Ghosh & Ors Vs. Land Acquisition Collector & Ors  Insc 636 (12 December 2003)
Babu & Ruma Pal.
out of SLP(C) No. 15758 of 2000] RAJENDRA BABU, J.:
case relates to acquisition of land measuring 3.37 acres in Mouja Pabiacheura
in Kailashahar, State of Tripura. The notification under Section
4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 [hereinafter, 'the Act'] was issued on 24th December 1968 and on 13th October, 1969, declaration under Section 6 of the Act was published. The
Land Acquisition Collector made his award in October 1974 awarding Rs.12,000/-
per acre for 'nal land' and Rs.9,000/- per acre for 'chara land'.
21.10.1974, the appellants filed an application for reference under Section 18
of the Act for enhancement of compensation. On reference, the learned L.A.
Judge passed an award enhancing compensation, allowing Rs.36,000/- per acre and
also granted 15% solatium, and interest under Section 23(2) of the Act in 1985.
appeal to the High Court, the claim for enhancement was dismissed. The High
Court also denied the appellants benefits under Section 23(2) of the Act by
relying on the decision of this Court in K.S. Paripoornan vs. State of Kerala,AIR 1995 SC 1012.
this Court, the main issues are as follows:
Was the High Court justified in not awarding enhanced compensation? (2) Are the
appellants entitled to solatium and interest @ 30% under Section 23(2) of the
Act? Compensation payable on a piece of land acquired under the Act is
determined by taking into account the market value of the land so acquired. The
most reliable way to determine the market value is to rely on the instances of
sale of portions of the same land as has been acquired or adjacent lands made
shortly before or the after the Section 4 notification .
the appellants had produced before the High Court a certified copy of an award
passed by the learned L.A. Judge in another acquisition proceedings. In this
case, the land was 150 ft. away from the lands involved in the present
those proceedings, the learned L.A. Judge had awarded Rs.1 lakh per acre as
compensation. This was sought to be relied on by the appellants. The High Court
chose not to rely on this document as no evidence was led to show that both
lands are similar in nature having similar potentiality.
determining the market value of land, it must be with reference to a piece of
land which is comparable to the present lands being acquired. It must be
similar in potentiality and nature. The document which the appellants seek to
rely on relates to land which was acquired for the purpose of Assam- Agartala Road. It was 3 feet higher than the
acquired land. Further, the two lands were not proved to be comparable in
nature and potentiality. Therefore, the High Court is right in not relying on
the said document and disallowing the claim for enhancement for compensation.
second issue relates to the payment of solatium @ 30% under Section 23(2) of
is 'money comfort' quantified by the statute and given as a conciliatory
measure for the compulsory acquisition of land of the citizen, by a welfare
state such as India ". Thus the statutory amount
of solatium is intended to compensate the owner for his disinclination to part
with his property.
main aspect that arises for consideration is the issue of the rate of solatium.
By an amendment in 1984, the rate was increased to 30% from the original 15% by
virtue of Section 30(2) of the Amending Act.
increase was given a limited retrospectivity, in the sense that, the Amending
Act, under Section 30(2) provided that the increased solatium is applicable to
those awards passed by the Collector or the Court between 30.4.1982 and
29.9.1984. Can it be said that the present case would be entitled to this
additional benefit? The award was made by the L.A. Collector way before the
said period i.e. in 1974. However, the reference Court passed its award after
the said period, i.e. in 1985. Therefore, the issue is whether the amendment
would apply to a case pending during the period of 2 years from 30.4.1982 to
precise issue has come up for consideration a number of times before this
Court. In Union of India v. Raghubir Singh, (1989) 2 SCC 754, it was held that
the benefit of enhanced solatium would apply only in cases where the award by
the Collector or Court is made between 30.4.1982 and 24.9.1984 or appeals
against such awards decided by the High Courts or this Court, whether rendered
before 24.9.1984 or after that date. This Court found that the language of the
Section ruled out the applicability of the benefit to all pending proceedings.
Union of India v. Filip Tiago De Gama, AIR 1990 SC 981, the issue was whether
the amendment would apply to an award made subsequent to 24.9.1984 even though
the acquisition proceedings had commenced prior to the date. This Court looked
at the intention behind giving retrospective effect to the amending Section. If
the literal interpretation is taken, it was held, it will result in an anomaly.
In order to avoid it, regard must be had to the purpose of Section 30(2).
Consequently, this Court awarded higher solatium even though the Reference Court made the award in 1985.
in K.S. Paripoornan's case [supra], this Court widened the restricted interpretation
given in Raghubir Singh's case. It held that the enhanced solatium would apply
even to a case pending at the time the Act came into force.
this train of thought, the benefit of enhanced solatium would extend to the
the period between 30.4.1982 and 29.9.1984, the reference was pending in the Reference Court.
court's award was passed in 1985. Following the above interpretation, the
appellants are thus entitled to enhanced solatium @ 30% and interest under Section
23(2) of the Act.
High Court in considering the case under Section 23(1-A) of the Act has
committed an error.
appellants are entitled to solatium under Section 23(2) of the Act and,
therefore, the reference by the High Court to Section 23(1-A) is irrelevant in
the present case.
learned counsel for respondents has contended that solatium is not applicable
because the West Bengal Land Development and Planning Act, 1948, under which
this present area falls, does not contemplate it. The provision of solatium is
mandatory and cannot be done away with. It has been held in a number of cases
that the deprivation of solatium by the West Bengal Land Development and
Planning Act is violative of Article 14 and Section 8(2) of the Act is held to
be invalid. (See : Monoranjan Routh v. State of W.B., AIR 1972 Cal 487 and Ramendranath
v. State of W.B., AIR 1975 Cal 325). Therefore, the contention that Section
8(2) of the Act excludes compensation by way of solatium does not hold good.
light of the above, the compensation @ 36,000/- per acre as awarded by the L.A.
Judge is upheld. The solatium is to be paid @ 30% under Section 23(2) of the
Act and an interest @ 9% per annum is also payable under Section 28 of the Act.
award made by the Reference
Court as affirmed by
the High Court shall stand modified accordingly and the appeal is allowed to
that extent. No orders as to costs.