Sachida Nand Lal @
Sachida Nand Shah Vs. State of Bihar (Now Jharkhand)  INSC 1903 (7
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6442 OF 2000 SACHIDA
NAND LAL @ SACHIDA NAND SHAH ...
STATE OF BIHAR,
C.K. Thakker, J.
present appeal is filed against judgment and order dated June 22, 1999 passed
by a single Judge of the High Court of Patna (Ranchi Bench) in Appeal from
Original Decree Nos. 228 and 229 of 1989 and confirmed by the Division Bench on
March 01, 2000 in Letters Patent Appeal No. 362 of 1999.
stated the facts of the case are that on February 16, 1978, a notification
under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 2 1894 (hereinafter referred to
as `the Act') was issued for acquisition of land bearing Khata Nos. 277 and 107
situated in the town of Lohardaga of Ranchi for construction of agricultural
market-yard. According to the appellant, the Collector divided the land into
two categories; (i) category `ka' and (ii) category `kha'. The land situated up
to 150 feet from the road was categorized as `ka' whereas land situated beyond
150 feet from the road was categorized as `kha'. The Collector assessed the
value of the land of category `ka' at the rate of Rs.48,500/- per acre and
category `kha' at the rate of Rs.32,335/- per acre. It was, however, the
allegation of the appellant that the Deputy Secretary, Government of Bihar
illegally and without any reason or ground and without authority of law reduced
the rate to Rs.25,000/- and Rs. 16,000/- per acre for category `ka' and `kha'
Accordingly, an award
was passed on May 05, 1980 on that basis.
appellant being aggrieved by the award sought reference for enhancement of
compensation under Section 18 of the Act which was registered as Land
Acquisition Case No. 498 of 1981. Similar references were also sought by other
land owners. All the references came up for hearing before the Court of learned
Subordinate Judge, Ranchi and the learned Judge by judgment and order dated
July 06, 1987 partly allowed the reference. For the land of category `ka', the
Reference Court fixed compensation at the rate of Rs.48,000/- per acre and for
category `kha', it was fixed at the rate of Rs.24,250/- per acre. The Court
also awarded solatium at the rate of 30% and interest @ 6% with effect from
June 01, 1979.
appellant challenged the judgment and order passed by Reference Court by filing
First Appeal No. 229 of 1989 in the High Court of Patna, Ranchi Bench. The
learned Single Judge before whom the appeal came up for hearing partly allowed
it. So far as the land 4 of category `ka' is concerned, he enhanced
compensation from Rs.48,000/- per acre to Rs.66,000/- per acre. He, however,
declined to interfere with the rate of `kha' category of land and no
enhancement at all was granted to the said land, though the Reference Court had
observed in the order that category `kha' would get 50% amount of compensation
of the land of category `ka'.
the circumstances, the appellant- claimant approached the Division Bench of the
High Court by filing Letters Patent Appeal No.363 of 1999. The Division Bench
of the High Court disposed of the Letters Patent Appeal by a cryptic order
dated June 22, 1999 which read as under;
for the appellant.
We do not find any
merit in this Letters Patent Appeal which is accordingly dismissed."
above order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court in the Letters
Patent 5 Appeal is challenged by the appellant in the present appeal.
Initially when the matter was placed for admission hearing, the following order
was passed by this Court on August 28, 2000;
limited to the question, whether the High Court is right while enhancing the
rate of compensation of category `Ka' land to Rs. 66,000.00 per acre but
maintaining the category `Kha' land at Rs. 24,250.00. The case of the
petitioner is that the rate of the land of `Kha' should have been at least half
of the rate of the `Ka' property as held by the referring Court."
November 13, 2000, the petition was called out for hearing. Service of notice
was complete, but none appeared for the respondent and hence leave was granted.
It was thereafter placed for final hearing before the Court, but it was brought
to the notice of the Court that in the light of bifurcation of two states of
(i) Bihar and (ii) Jharkhand, the subject matter in the appeal related to the
State of 6 Jharkhand. Fresh notices were, therefore, issued and opportunity
was given to the State of Jharkhand to make submissions.
have heard the learned counsel for the parties.
learned counsel for the appellant contended that the Division Bench committed
an error of law in dismissing the Letters Patent Appeal without entering into
the merits of the matter. He also submitted that the Division Bench ought to
have allowed the appeal by enhancing the amount of compensation.
our opinion, however, the matter deserves to be allowed on the first ground and
it would not be appropriate for this Court to express any opinion on the second
question on merits of the matter.
already observed earlier, after the Reference Court decided the Reference,
Appeal from Original Decree was preferred by the claimant before the High
Court. It was heard by the learned Single Judge of the High Court.
7 Section 54 of the
Act provides for filing Appeals in proceedings before the Court. It reads as
proceedings before Court.--Subject to the provisions of the Code of Civil
Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), applicable to appeals from original decrees, and
notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment for the time being in
force, an appeal shall only lie in any proceedings under this Act to the High
Court from the award, or from any part of the award, of the Court and from any
decree of the High Court passed on such appeal as aforesaid an appeal shall lie
to the Supreme Court subject to the provisions contained in Section 110 of the
Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, and in Order XLIV thereof.
view of express provision as to filing of appeal under the Act as also the
provision relating to filing of Letters Patent as applicable to the High Court
of Patna, an order passed by a single Judge of the High Court can be challenged
by filing an intra- Court appeal before a Division Bench of the same Court. The
claimant was, therefore, justified in exercising the right of filing 8 Letters
Patent Appeal and accordingly, appeal was preferred before a Division Bench.
the appeal before the learned Single Judge was Appeal from Original Decree,
i.e. First Appeal, the Division Bench ought to have considered the correctness
or otherwise of the order passed by the learned Single Judge by exercising same
powers as exercised by the learned single Judge in the appeal from original
decree. The Letters Patent before the Division Bench was not in the nature of
appeal from an appellate decree, i.e. Second Appeal, but it was continuation of
appeal from original decree, i.e. First Appeal. In the circumstances, in our
opinion, the Division Bench committed an error of law in dismissing the appeal
in limine by a brief order quoted hereinabove without considering the merits.
law on the point is well-settled as regards the power of the Division Bench
while dealing with and deciding Letters Patent 9 Appeal from an order passed
by a single Judge in exercise of power as a Court of Appeal.
Asha Devi v. Dukhi Sao, AIR 1974 SC 2048, a similar question came up for
consideration before this Court. There, a First Appeal came up for hearing
before a Single Judge of the High Court and was disposed of. Against the said
order, a Letters Patent Appeals was filed. A preliminary objection was raised
on behalf of the respondents that since it was an appeal from a decree passed
by a Single Judge of the High Court in First Appeal, the appeal before the
Division Bench was in substance and in reality in the nature of Second Appeal
and questions of law only could be agitated in such Letters Patent Appeal.
the contention and holding that the scope of appeal before the Division Bench
was similar to one before a Single Judge, this Court stated;
"There is no
dispute that an appeal lies to a Division Bench of the High Court from the
judgment of a Single 10 Judge of that Court in appeal from a judgment and
decree of a court subject to the superintendence of the High Court. The only
question is whether the power of a Division Bench hearing a Letters Patent
appeal under Clause 10 of the Letters Patent of Patna High Court or under the
analogous provisions in the Letters Patent of other High Courts is limited only
to a question of law under Section 100 of the CPC or has it the same power
which the Single Judge has as a first Appellate Court in respect of both
questions of fact and of law. The limitations on the power of the Court imposed
by Sections 100 and 101 of the CPC cannot be made applicable to an Appellate
Court hearing a Letters Patent appeal from the judgment of a Single Judge of
that High Court in a first appeal from the judgment and decree of the court
subordinate to the High Court, for the simple reason that a Single Judge to the
High Court is not a Court subordinate, to the High Court".
above observations in Asha Devi make it explicitly clear that an intra-Court
appeal is required to be considered and decided by the Division Bench of the
High Court on the same footing as an appeal considered and decided by a single
Judge of the Court.
similar question again arose before this Court recently in Gaudiya Mission v.
Shobha Bose & Anr., JT 2008 (1) SC 384. There also, a single Judge of the
High Court of Allahabad decided the First Appeal against which Letters Patent
Appeal was filed before a Division Bench. There also, the Division Bench
without entering into questions of fact and law, dismissed the appeal as if it
was in the nature of Second Appeal. Setting aside the order passed by the
Single Judge, following the law laid down by this Court in Asha Devi and
remitting the matter to the Division Bench of the High Court for fresh disposal
in accordance with law, this Court held that the order passed by the Division
Bench was liable to be set aside and the matter was required to be decided on
all questions, i.e. on questions of fact as also on questions of law.
same principle applies in the present case also. The order passed by the
Division Bench of the High Court dismissing the 12 Letters Patent Appeal
cannot be said to be in accordance with law and the said order deserves to be
set aside. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed and the order passed by the
Division Bench is set aside. The appeal stands allowed and the matter is
remanded to Division Bench which will now hear the parties on merits and decide
the case in accordance with law by a reasoned judgment. On the facts and in the
circumstances of the case, however, there shall be no order as to costs.
parting with the matter, we may clarify that we have not expressed any opinion
on merits of the matter one way or the other.
All the observations
made by us hereinabove have been made only for the purpose of deciding the
present appeal. As and when the matter will be placed for hearing before the
Division Bench, the same will be decided strictly on its own merits without
being influenced by the above observations.
appeal is accordingly allowed.