Singh & Ors Vs. Union of India & Ors  Insc 36 (29 January 2003)
S.B. Sinha & Ar. Lakshmanan
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 636, 637, 638 OF 2003 (Arising out of S.L.P. (Civil)
Nos.17079 of 2000, 533 of 2001 & SLP (Civil)CC 4700 of 2001) S.B. SINHA, J
of Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 in a proceeding under the
Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 (hereinafter
referred to as 'the 1952 Act') is in question in these appeals, which arise out
of judgments and orders passed by Punjab & Haryana High Court in L.P.A. No.
971 of 1999, C.W.P. No. 183 of 1994, L.P.A. No. 914 of 1999 and L.P.A. No. 42
factual matrix of the matter may be adverted to from the Civil Appeal arising
out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.533 of 2001. The lands of the
appellants were requisitioned under the Defence of India Act, 1971 for
establishment of Military cantonment in the year 1972. They were later on
acquired in terms of Section 23(1) of the Defence of India Act. An award of
compensation was pronounced on 6th March, 1975
in the following terms :-
Area assessed on flat Rs.16,000/- per acre
Mustan Rs.10,800/- "
Coir Mumkin/Bajar Rs.4,500/- "
It is not in dispute that the appellants in relation to the amount of
compensation awarded by the respondents herein for acquiring their properties
entered into agreements in the prescribed form under the provisions of the 1952
Act, which was made operative for the residual matters flowing from the
proceedings of acquisition of lands upon repeal of the Defence of India Act,
the non-inclusion of interest in the said award they filed a writ petition
before the High Court which was marked as C.W.P. No.4983 of 1976 which were
allowed. A special leave petition filed by the respondents herein before this
Court marked as Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.74 of 1998 questioning the
said order of the High Court was dismissed on 4th September, 1984. Another writ petition was filed by the Appellant
claiming solatium before the High Court which was marked as C.W.P. No.1813 of
1978 and the same was also allowed. It is, however, not in dispute that several
other land owners did not accept the said award and made a reference which was
referred to an arbitration of the Additional District Judge. By an award dated
20.11.1987 in the case of one Nihal Singh, the said Arbitrator awarded higher
compensation together with solatium and interest. Compensation awarded to said Nihal
Singh by the Arbitrator was at the following rates :-
Land situated on either side of National Highway leading from Rs.16.80/sq.yd Bhatinda to Bana upto depth of
Land upto depth of 500 mts.
Municipal limits/fencing of Cantonment from boundry Rs.16/- per sq.yd 3rd phase
of Urban Estate of Bhatinda Town.
the rest of acquired land Rs.8.50 " " The said Nihal Singh had also
been paid solatium @ 30% and interest @ 9% per annum for one year after
acquisition and thereafter @ 15% per annum till realisation.
appellants herein having regard to the said award filed application under
Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act for redetermination of compensation. It
is not in dispute that a Full Bench of the Punjab & Haryana High Court in Hari
Krishan Khosla (decd.) and others vs. Union of India and Another. [AIR 1975 Punjab & Haryana 74] had held that
even where an acquisition is made under the Defence of India Act, provisions of
Section 28A of Land Acquisition Act would be applicable. Presumably, relying on
or on the basis of the said decision, the Special Land Acquisition Collector,
before whom the said purported application under Section 28A was filed,
enhanced the compensation by an order dated 30th May, 1988.
said award indisputably was not implemented.
Court in Union of India vs. Hari Krishan Khosla (Dead) by L.Rs. [(1993) Supp.2
SCC 149], however, held that the provisions of Land Acquisition Act are not
applicable in respect of an acquisition made under the 1952 Act.
the respondent herein filed a writ petition questioning the said award on the
ground that as the provisions of Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act were
not applicable in relation to acquisition under the Defence of India Act or the
1952 Act, the said award dated 30th May, 1988
was illegal and without jurisdiction. Before the High Court, the appellants
herein, inter alia, raised a question of maintainability of the writ petition
on the ground delay and latches on the part of the respondents, as allegedly
the writ petition had been filed after a period of five years. By reason of a
judgment and order dated 1.4.1999, a learned Single Judge of the High Court
upon setting aside the order of the Special Land Acquisition Collector dated
30.5.1988 allowed the writ petition where-against the appellants preferred an
intra-court appeal which also came to be dismissed by reason of the impugned
judgment dated 27th January, 2000.
O.P. Sharma, learned Senior Counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants in
the Civil Appeals arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) Nos. 11687 and
17079 of 2000 and SLP (Civil) ..(CC 4700 of 2001) would contend that no doubt
this Court in Union of India vs. Gurbachan Singh and others [(1995) 1 SCC 292]
and Union of India and Another vs. Babu Singh and others [(1996) 1 SCC 477]
following its decision in Hari Krishan Khosla's case (supra) has held that in
relation to an acquisition under the provisions of the 1952 Act, Section 28A of
the Land Acquisition Act would not be maintainable but therein this Court did
not take into consideration the question that if the provisions for grant of solatium
and interest in terms of Sections 23A(1) and 23(2) of Land Acquisition Act
would apply in relation to acquisition under the 1952 Act, there is absolutely
no reason as to why a proceeding under Section 28A would not be maintainable.
Learned counsel in support of his argument placed strong reliance on a
Seven-Judge Bench of this Court in Nagpur Improvement Trust and Another vs. Vithal
Rao and Others [(1973) 1 SCC 500], U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad vs. Jainul
Islam and Another [(1998) 2 SCC 467] and a recent judgment of this Court in Nagpur
Improvement Trust etc. vs. Vasantrao and Others etc. [(2002) 7 SCC 657].
P.S. Narasimhma, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants in Civil
Appeal arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.533 of 2001, would
submit that although Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act per se is not applicable
to a proceeding under the 1952 Act, the said provisions should be read into
therein. The learned counsel drew our attention to the said provisions of
Section 28A of the Act and submitted that in a case where the parties entered
into an agreement in terms of clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section (8) of
the 1952 Act, there is no reason as to why the parties cannot enter into
another agreement having regard to the fact that the Arbitrator has awarded
enhanced compensation for acquisition of similarly situated lands. The learned
counsel drawing our attention to the provisions of sub-section (3) of Section 8
of the 1952 Act would submit that compensation required to be paid even under
the 1952 Act being on the market value of the land, and, thus, the criteria for
determination of compensation being the same, the provisions of the Land
Acquisition Act should be held to be applicable being implicitly embodied
therein. In support of the said contention, strong reliance was placed on Haji
Mohammad Ekramul Haq vs. The State of West Bengal [AIR 1959 SC 488].
1952 Act was enacted to provide for the requisitioning and acquisition of
immovable property for the purposes of the Union.
The history of the said legislation and the purport and object thereof need not
be noticed by us in view of the question involved herein. Section 3 of the said
Act provides for power of the Central Government to requisition immovable
property. Section 4 empowers the competent authority to take possession of the
requisitioned property. Section 5 which provides for rights over requisitioned
property reads thus:- "Rights over requisitioned property.-
All property requisitioned under section 3, shall be used for such purposes as
may be mentioned in the notice of requisition.
any premises are requisitioned under section 3, the competent authority may
order the landlord to execute such repairs as may be necessary and are usually
made by landlords in that locality and as may be specified in the notice,
within such reasonable time as may be mentioned therein, and if the landlord
fails to execute any repairs in pursuance of such order, the competent
authority may cause the repairs specified in the order to be executed at the
expense of the landlord and the cost thereof may, without prejudice to any
other mode of recovery, be deducted from the compensation payable to the
landlord." A requisitioned property can be released from requisition in
terms of Section 6. Section 7 confers power upon the Central Government to
acquire the requisitioned property. The principles and method of determining
compensation are laid down in Section 8 of the said Act which reads as under :-
Principles and method of determining compensation.-
Where any property is requisitioned or acquired under this Act, there shall be
paid compensation the amount of which shall be determined in the manner and in
accordance with the principles hereinafter set out, that is to say, -
the amount of compensation can be fixed by agreement, it shall be paid in
accordance with such agreement;
no such agreement can be reached, the Central Government shall appoint as
arbitrator a person who is, or has been, or is qualified for appointment as, a
Judge of a High Court;
the Central Government may, in any particular case, nominate a person having
expert knowledge as to the nature of the property requisitioned or acquired to
assist the arbitrator and where such nomination is made, the person to be
compensated may also nominate an assessor for the same purpose;
the commencement of the proceedings before the arbitrator, the Central
Government and the person to be compensated shall state what in their
respective opinion is a fair amount of compensation;
the arbitrator shall, after hearing the dispute, make an award determining the
award of compensation which appears to him to be just and specifying the person
or persons to whom such compensation shall be paid; and in making the award, he
shall have regard to the circumstances of each case and the provisions of
sub-sections (2) and (3), so far as they are applicable;
where there is any dispute as to the person or persons who are entitled to the
compensation, the arbitrator shall decide such dispute and if the arbitrator
finds that more persons than one are entitled to compensation, he shall
apportion the amount thereof amongst such persons;
in the Arbitration Act, 1940 shall apply to arbitrations under this section.
(2A) and (2B) of Section 8 of the 1952 Act lay down the mode and manner for
determination of compensation on requisitioning of the property.
(3) of Section 8 thereof reads as under:
The compensation payable for the acquisition of any property under section 7
shall be the price which the requisitioned property would have fetched in the
open market. If it had remained in the same condition as it was at the time of
requisitioning and been sold on the date of acquisition." The acquisition
of the lands of the appellants as also the award and the writ petitions, as
noticed hereinbefore, have been made and disposed of prior to coming into force
of Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act.
1952 Act is a self-contained Code. The 1952 Act not only lays down a criteria
for determination of compensation but also provides for the mode and manner
thereof. The procedures for determining the award of compensation are not the
provisions of the Land Acquisition Act are, ex-facie not applicable for
determination of compensation under the 1952 Act. The provisions of the Land
Acquisition Act and the 1952 Act are, thus, not in para-materia. Section 23 of
the Land Acquisition Act 1894, on the other hand, lays down the factors which
are required to be taken into consideration in determining the amount of
compensation. The mode and manner in which the compensation payable for
acquisition of land under the 1952 Act and Land Acquisition Act, 1894 are,
thus, distinct and different. We fail to see as to how the provisions of
Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act can be made applicable in relation to a
proceeding under the 1952 Act.
the criteria for determination of compensation in terms of sub-section (3) of
Section 8 must be viewed with the limitations contained therein. In any event
the market value of a property may also be determined from the stand-point of a
willing purchaser of the land ready and willing to offer the consideration therefor
to a buyer. The owner of a land normally would opt for the best offer. Once he
has agreed to a price; so far as he is concerned the same ordinarily should be
presumed to be the best offer which he could get.
be true that in Haji Mohammad Ekrmul Haq's case (supra) this Court observed
that even in the matter of payment of compensation under the 1952 Act, the
criteria laid down under the Land Acquisition Act would be applicable. However,
Section 8 of the 1952 Act underwent amendments and the provisions of the 1952
Act having not only laid down a complete machinery but also the mode and manner
of determining compensation, the said decision of this Court cannot be said to
have any application in the instant case.
Court in Gurbachan Singh's case (supra) and Babu Singh's case (supra), in view
of the aforementioned distinction following the judgment of this Court in Hari Krishan
Khosla's case (supra) clearly laid down the law that Section 28A of the Land
Acquisition Act cannot be applied in relation to an acquisition proceeding
under the 1952 Act.
placed by the learned Counsel appearing on behalf of the Petitioner in Hukam Chand
and Others v. State of Haryana and others reported in (1996) 5 SCC 164 is mis-placed.
Therein the questions raised herein did not fall for consideration. In the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894, a provision exists for reference whereas in terms of the
provisions of 1952 Act, only in the event the owner of the land does not accept
the amount of compensation offered to him, the dispute in relation thereto may
be referred to an arbitrator. We may note that although in these cases the
dispute as regards amount of compensation was not referred to arbitrator, but
the appellants herein filed writ petitions claiming solatium and interest.
They, thus, did take the matter to a Competent Court of Law and the said
proceeding had a direct bearing on the amount of compensation received by them.
In the event it be held that the provisions of Section 28A of the Land
Acquisition Act is maintainable in a proceeding under the 1952 Act, not only
there would be an enhancement in the quantum of compensation but also
corresponding enhancement in solatium and interest, which, in view of the
orders passed in the writ petitions, would be impermissible.
Union of India and Others v. Dhanwati Devi and others reported in (1996) 6 SCC
44 a three judge bench of this Court held:
The question, therefore, emerges whether it is necessary for the State
Legislature to expressly specify that interest or solatium shall not be payable
for the lands or property acquired under Section 7(1) of the Act. Sub silentio
is eloquent. It would further be seen that Section 8 of the Central Act equally
does not provide for payment of solatium and interest. The Act was passed in
the year 1968 while the Central Act was passed in 1952. It would, therefore, be
reasonable to conclude that the State Legislature was cognizant of the express
provisions for payment of interest and solatium available in the Acquisition
Act. The Act omitted similar provisions for payment of interest and solatium as
part or component of compensation, obviously to fall in line with the Central
Act." The Bench agreed with the reasonings in Hari Krishan Khosla case
ratio of Dhanwanti Devi case applies in the instant case.
decision of this Court in Nagpur Improvement Trust (supra) may not be of much
assistance in the instant case inasmuch as therein it was noticed that the U.P.
Avas Evam Vikas Parishad Adhiniyam, 1965, Nagpur Improvement Trust Act, 1936 as
also the Punjab Town Improvement Act, 1922 which fell for consideration therein
had a common scheme and pattern as the State legislations relate to Town
Planning and Development and in terms of which, each one of them as regards
acquisition of land, the Land Acquisition Act, 1984 was made applicable with
certain modifications as contained in the Schedules appended thereto. In that
view of the matter, the Bench followed the earlier decision of this Court in
U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad (supra) [wherein one of us (Hon'ble the Chief
Justice) was a member]. Therein Hari Krishan Khosla (supra) was held to be not
applicable as provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, as amended by the 1984
Act relating to determination and payment of compensation, were held to be
applicable to acquisition of land for the purposes of the Adhiniyam.
present advised and furthermore in view in the factual matrix involved in the
present appeals, we do not intend to enter into the question as to whether the
said decisions have correctly been rendered or not.
the admitted case of the appellants that they entered into with the respondents
agreements as regards the amount of compensation payable for acquisition of
their lands in the prescribed form in terms of clause (a) of sub- section (1)
of Section 8. What was only questioned by them in the writ proceedings was
non-payment of solatium and interest. The High Court in the said writ
proceedings indisputably came to the conclusion that even solatium and interest
was payable. The correctness or otherwise of the said decisions is not in
once it is held that Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act is not applicable
in relation to lands of the appellants the only question which survives for
consideration is as to whether the appellants have any legal right to force the
respondents herein to enter into a fresh agreement relying on or on the awards
passed by the arbitrator in 1987.
answer to the said question, in our considered opinion, must be rendered in the
negative. It has rightly been accepted at the bar that in the event a reference
is made to an Arbitrator by the owner of the lands, Section 28A of the Land
Acquisition Act would not be applicable.
parties herein entered into agreements in terms of clause (a) of sub-section
(1) of Section 8 and, thus, the same falls within the realm of a contract, and
parties thereto would ordinarily be bound thereby unless the same is vitiated
by fraud, misrepresentation etc.
the matter is concluded by a contract, a novation of contract would also fall
within the realm of contract only. If the contention of Mr. Narasimha is
accepted, a contract can be reopened only with the agreement of both the
parties. The parties must be ad-idem therefor.
person whose lands were acquired, thus, having entered into an agreement cannot
be said to have any legal right which can be enforced in a court of law so as
to enable him to obtain an order from the Court directing the Union of India to
reopen the agreement; only because by reason of a subsequent award an enhanced
amount of compensation has been paid for similar class of lands. If a right to
get the amount of compensation re- determined is held to be implicit in the
Act, the same for all intent and purport would amount to invoking the
provisions of Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act indirectly which cannot
be done directly. It is a well-settled principle of law that what cannot be
done directly cannot be done indirectly.
enforceable right to re-open a proceeding, which has attained finality, must
exist in the Statute itself.
right to get the amount of compensation re-determined must expressly be
provided by the statute. Such a right being a substantive one cannot be sought
to be found out by implication nor can the same be read therewith.
appellants, thus, cannot invoke a right by reading the same into a statute
although admittedly there exists none.
a well-settled principle of law that the court cannot read anything into the
statutory provision which is plain and unambiguous. The court has to find out
legislative intent only from the language employed in the statutes.
and conjectures cannot be restricted to for interpretation of statutes. [See
Union of India and others vs. Filip Tiago De Gama of Vedem Vasco De Gama, (AIR
1990 SC 981].
Court in Bhavnagar Unversity v. Palitana Sugar Mill
Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. [2002 (9) SCALE 102], has observed :- "Scope of the
legislation on the intention of the legislature cannot be enlarged when the
language of the provision is plain and unambiguous. In other words statutory
enactments must ordinarily be construed according to its plain meaning and no
words shall be added, altered or modified unless it is plainly necessary to do
so to prevent a provision from being unintelligible, absurd, unreasonable,
unworkable or totally irreconcilable with the rest of the statute" [See
also M/s Unique Butyle Tube Industries Pvt. Ltd. vs. U.P. Financial Corporation
& Ors. (2002 (9) SCALE 778].
the views we have taken, we are of the opinion that it is not necessary to go
into the larger question raised by the learned counsel for the parties in these
of Mr. Narasimha to the effect that the Collector himself having made an award
by order dated 30th
May, 1988 the Central
Government could not have filed a writ petition, is stated to be rejected. The
contention of the Central Government, respondent herein, in the writ petition
was that as the provision of Section 28A of the Land Acquisition Act being not
applicable, the Special Land Acquisition Collector acted illegally and without
jurisdiction in reopening the matter and passing a supplementary award. Such a
contention was raised on the basis of a decision of this Court.
the Special Land Acquisition Collector is a creature of the statute. He,
therefore, was bound to act within the four-corners thereof. If he has passed
an order invoking a provision of law which was not applicable, he committed
jurisdictional error and the order impugned before the High Court by the
respondents was a nullity. We, therefore, cannot accept the contention of the
appellants that the respondent was not a person aggrieved and thus could not
have maintained the writ petition.
submitted that the respondents having filed a writ petition after a period of
eight years, the same ought not to have entertained. Primarily a question of
delay and latches is a matter which is required to be considered by the writ
court. Once the writ court has exercised its jurisdiction despite delay and
latches on the part of the respondents, it is not for us at this stage to set
aside the order of the High Court on that ground alone particularly when we
find that the impugned judgment is legally sustainable.
the foregoing reasons, we do not find any merit in these appeals which are
accordingly dismissed but in the facts and circumstances of the case, there
shall be no order as to costs.