Land Acquisition Officer Vs. Shivabai & Ors  INSC 393 (4 April 1997)
RAMASWAMY, G.B. PATTANAIK
O R D
E R Delay condoned.
appeal by special leave arises from the judgment made by the Division Bench of
the High Court of Andhra Pradesh on April 15, 1994 in A.S. No.1052/92.
under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short, the `Act') was
published on August 19,
1965, acquiring large
tracts of land comprised in several villages for submersion due to Sriram Sagar
Project. The land in question to an extent of 206 acres 16 gunthas of the land
is situated in the village Nallur in Nizamabad District. Possession thereof was
taken on November 22,
completion of the enquiry under Section 11, the award came to be made on the
same date. The compensation at the rate of Rs.430/- per acre for the dry lands
and at the rate of Rs.430/- per acre for dry black cotton lands was awarded and
paid. A writ petition was filed in 1986 by two persons, i.e. respondent Nos. 1
and 2, claiming that they had filed an application Nos.1 and 2, claiming that
they had filed an application under protest, but reference under Section 8 was
not made. The learned single judge directed an enquiry whether notice under
Section 12(2) and the award were served on the claimants as per the law then
existing; if notice was not served, to take necessary action of reference. In
writ appeal, it was confirmed. Thereafter, reference was made in O.P.
No.198/90. application, I.A. No.285/91, was filed seeking remission of the
reference on the ground that it was obtained fraudulently with the connivance
of the Land Acquisition Officer and was barred by limitation. The Additional
District Judge by order dated October 23, 1991
dismissed the application. An I.A. was filed for impleading other persons,
respondent Nos.3 to 103, and the application was allowed by the District Judge.
On the basis thereof, the reference was answered by enhancing the compensation
ranging between Rs.3,000/- to Rs.2,000/- per acre. On appeal, the Division
Bench in the impugned judgment has confirmed the enhanced compensation. Thus
this appeal, by special leave.
the matter had come up before us, we issued notice to the counsel for the State
to produce the Acquittance Registers. Pursuant thereto, the Acquittance
Registers have been produced which establish that on the day when the award
came to be passed, the claimants were present and the amount was received by
them without protest on November 25, 1965 and two of them, who were not present
on that day, received the compensation two days thereafter, namely, November
27, 1965. Under these circumstances, the question arises:
the reference application came to be made within two months from the date of
the award? The proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 18 speaks thus:
The application shall state the grounds on which objection to the award is
that every such application shall be made,- (a) if the person making it was
present or represented before the Collector at the time when he made his award,
within six weeks from the date of the Collector's award;
other cases, within six weeks of the receipt of the notice from the Collector
under Section 12, sub-section (2), or within six months from the date of the
Collector's award, whichever period shall first expire." Thus it could be
seen that when the parties were present at the time when the award came to be
made, the notice under clause (b) of proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 18
was not necessary. As a consequence, within six weeks from the date of the
award an application is required to be made for reference under Section 18. If
the amount is received without protest, by operation of second proviso to
sub-section (2) of Section 31, such person who has received the amount without
protest is not entitled to seek a reference under section 18.
C. Sitaramiah, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondents, contends
that on the Division Bench's directing to make an enquiry into the matter, the
Land Acquisition Officer himself has referred the matter. Unless there is proof
of service of the notice of the award under sub-section (2) of Section 12, the
limitation does not start. We are unable to agree with the learned counsel. It
is now settled law that it is not necessary that the award or its copy should
12(2) of the Act. If the parties are not present on the date the award came to
be passed, then Collector/Land Acquisition Officer shall give immediate notice
of his award. The imitation begins to run from the date of the notice as per
proviso to Section 18(2). The date of the award and the date of the receipt of
the compensation was incidentally the same date. Under these circumstances, it
must be presumed that they were present on the date when the award was made and
the compensation was received without any protest. Under these circumstances. they
are not entitled to seek any reference.
doubt they had filed the writ petition in the High Court for seeking reference.
But the High Court's order was only for making reference on verification and to
find out correct factual position. The officer himself was in collusion with
the claimants and without making any enquiry he made the reference.
Subsequently, some persons were impleaded to the reference. That itself
indicates that all was not going well. It is now settled position in law that
the claimants who receive the compensation under protest and who make
application under Section 18(1), alone are entitled to seek a reference: third parties,
who have been impleaded, have no right to claim higher compensation by
circumventing the process of reference under Section 18. Under these
circumstances, the reference itself is without any Jurisdiction and barred by
limitation. Thereby, the award of the reference court is clearly illegal. On
appeal, the High Court has not considered all these perspectives and found it
convenient to rely on another judgment to uphold the award of the civil court.
appeal is accordingly allowed. The Judgment and award of the reference court as
well as that of the High Court stand set aside. No costs.