State of West Bengal
Vs. Anil Naskar  INSC 1801 (21 October 2008)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1505 OF 2003 STATE OF
WEST BENGAL ... APPELLANT(S) :VERSUS:
CIVIL APPEAL NOs.
1509, 1511, 1512, 1513, 1514, 1515, 1516, 1517, 1518, 1519, 1520, 1521, 1522,
1523, 1524, 1525, 1526, 1527, 1528, 1529, 1530, 1531, 1532, 1533, 1534, 1535,
1536, 1537, 1538, 1539, 1540, 1541, 1542, 1543, 1544, 1555, 1556, 1557, 1558,
1559, 1560, 1561, 1562, 1563, 1564, 1565, 1566, 1567, 1568, 1569, 1570, 1571,
1572, 1573, 1574, 1575, 1576, 1577 and 1578 of 2003 ORDER These appeals, which
are 60 in number, preferred by the State of West Bengal and the West Bengal
Housing Board, a body constituted and incorporated under the West Bengal
Housing Board Act, 1972, are before us aggrieved by and dissatisfied with the
judgment and order dated 21.12.2001 passed by a Division Bench of the Calcutta
High Court, refusing to interfere with an award dated 25.8.1992 passed by the
Special Land Acquisition Judge, Alipore.
The basic fact of the
matter is not in dispute.
On the request made
by the West Bengal Housing Board, a notification 2 under Section 3(1) of the
West Bengal Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1948 ("Act" for
short) was issued on 3.12.1963, pursuant whereto possession of the lands was
taken on 29.12.1979. The owners of the lands were said to have been paid rental
compensation in terms of the provisions of the said Act, for the period
29.12.1979 to 28.8.1988.
On or before
28.2.1985, notice under Section 4(1A) of the Act was issued declaring the
intention of the State to acquire a vast tract of land.
Eventually, an award
was passed by the Land Acquisition Collector on or about 31.10.1988 awarding a
total sum of Rs.1.42 crores. Although a large number of land owners were
satisfied therewith, 31 land owners filed applications before the Collector for
reference thereof in terms of Section 18 of the Act.
learned Judge of the Reference Court did not issue any notice to the West
Bengal Housing Board and in its absence, the parties adduced their respective
By an award dated
25.8.1992, the Reference Judge awarded a sum of Rs.59,41,337/- on the following
(Agricultural land) @ Rs. 4726/- per Katha Danga + Bagan + Bastu + Chunkhola
(non-agricultural land) @ Rs. 5907/- per Katha. Tank + Doba (pond) @ Rs. 2362/-
Aggrieved by and
dissatisfied with the said award passed by the Reference 3 Judge, the State of
West Bengal preferred 31 appeals before the High Court and by reason of the
impugned judgment dated 21.12.2001, the said appeals have been dismissed.
Both the State of
West Bengal as also the West Bengal Housing Board have contended before us that
only on 10.1.2002, the latter came to know of the said judgment of the High
Court when they were asked to deposit all the costs and expenditure incidental
to and arising therefrom as the said expenses were required to be borne by it,
as per the order of the High Court.
The West Bengal
Housing Board, thereafter, upon obtaining leave of this Court, have preferred
appeals. Special leave petitions were also filed by the State of West Bengal.
Mr. A. Sharan,
learned Additional Solicitor General for India and Mr. Tapas Ray, learned
senior counsel appearing on behalf of the State of West Bengal and the West
Bengal Housing Board, inter alia, raised the following contentions:
(1) The Reference
Court failed to discharge its duties of issuing notice to the requisitioning
authority, namely, the Board and thus it has been denied a reasonable
opportunity to place its case before the Reference Court;
(2) The lands in
question being low lands, consisting of Shali, Tank, Chunkhola and Bastu, the
Reference Judge and, consequently, the High Court, 4 committed a serious error
in so far as they relied upon the exemplars involving large areas of land,
whereas the land holders owned only small parcel of lands;
(3) Both the High
Court as also the Reference Court failed to take into consideration that the
State had to expend a huge amount for the development of the area viz. a sum of
Rs.2,82,32,532.00 which was required to be deducted from the amount of
(4) The High Court
wrongly opined that as only a sum of Rs. 10 per sq. ft. has been awarded to the
land owners, no interference with the award of the Reference Judge was called
(5) The High Court by
exercising its jurisdiction under Article 54 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894
should have considered the appeals on the merit of the matter and, thus, should
not have dismissed the same, almost summarily.
Bhattacharya, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents, on the
other hand, supported the impugned judgments.
Section 50 of the
Land Acquisition Act provides that where the provisions of the Act are put in
force for the purpose of acquiring land, inter alia, at the cost of any fund
controlled or managed by a local authority, the charges for any incidental to
such acquisition shall be defrayed from the said fund. Sub-section (2) of
Section 50 lays down that in any proceeding held before the Court or Collector,
in such 5 cases, the local authority may appear and adduce evidence for the
purpose of determining the amount of compensation.
(2) of Section 50 of the Land Acquisition Act provides for an enabling
provision, the question in regard to interpretation thereof has come before
this Court on a number of occasions.
In U.P. Awas Evam
Vikas Parishad v. Gyan Devi, (1995) 2 SCC 326, a Constitution Bench of this
"24. To sum up,
our conclusions are :
50(2) of the L.A. Act confers on a local authority for whom land is being
acquired a right to appear in the acquisition proceedings before the Collector
and the reference court and adduce evidence for the purpose of determining the
amount of compensation.
said right carries with it the right to be given adequate notice by the
Collector as well as the reference court before whom acquisition proceedings
are pending on the date on which the matter of determination of compensation
will be taken up.
proviso to Section 50(2) only precludes a local authority from seeking a
reference but it does not deprive the local authority which feels aggrieved by
the determination of the amount of compensation by the Collector or by the
reference court to invoke the remedy under Article 226 of the Constitution as
well as the remedies available under the L.A. Act.
the event of denial of the right conferred by Section 50(2) on account of
failure of the Collector to serve notice of the acquisition proceedings, the
local authority can invoke the jurisdiction of the High Court under Article 226
of the Constitution.
when notice has been served on the local authority the remedy under Article 226
of the Constitution would be available to the local authority on grounds on
which judicial review is permissible under Article 226.
local authority is a proper party in the proceedings before the reference court
and is entitled to be impleaded as a party in those proceedings wherein it can
defend the determination of the amount of compensation by the Collector and
oppose enhancement of the said amount and also adduce evidence in that regard.
the event of enhancement of the amount of compensation by the reference court
if the Government does not file an appeal, the local authority can file an
appeal against the award in the High Court after obtaining leave of the court.
an appeal by the person having an interest in land seeking enhancement of the
amount of compensation awarded by the reference court, the local authority
should be impleaded as a party and is entitled to be served notice of the said
appeal. This would apply to an appeal in the High Court as well as in this
a company for whom land is being acquired has the same right as a local authority
under Section 50(2), whatever has been said with regard to a local authority
would apply to a company too.
matters which stand finally concluded will, however, not 7 be reopened."
Yet again, in Kanak
& Anr. v. U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad & Ors., (2003) 7 SCC 693, a
Division Bench of this Court, following the aforesaid Constitution Bench
"37. Where an
appeal has not been filed by the State, it was held that such an appeal would
be maintainable with the leave of the Court. However, in Gyan Devi this Court
did not have any occasion to consider a provision like the one contained in
Section 381 of the Mahapalika Adhiniyam and, thus, the observations of the
Court therein would not be relevant for the purpose of the present case. The
High Court, having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case cannot be
said to have committed any illegality in allowing the writ petition.
38. However, having
said so, in our opinion, the High Court should have remitted the matter back to
the Reference Court with a direction that the respondent Parishad may be
impleaded as a party so as to enable it to cross-examine the witnesses examined
on behalf of the claimants and examine its own witnesses and bring on record
such other materials as it may deem fit and proper. It goes without saying, it
would also be open to the claimants to adduce evidence to the contra."
Similar view was
taken by this Court again in NTPC Ltd. v. State of Bihar & Ors., (2004) 12
SCC 96, stating :
"6. The question
which arises for consideration is whether the appellants have a right to be
impleaded in all references. This 8 question is no longer res integra. The law
is settled by a Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of U.P. Awas Evam
Vikas Parishad v. Gyan Devi. In that case, after considering various provisions
of the Land Acquisition Act, it has been held that the body on whose behalf the
land is acquired is not just a necessary party but is also a proper party
before the Reference Court. It has been held that not giving them notice either
at the stage of fixing compensation by the Collector or by the Reference Court
affects their rights. It has been held that they must be impleaded as a party
in the reference proceedings."
It is not in dispute
that the learned Reference Judge has failed and/or neglected to perform its
statutory duty. It is also a matter of some concern that even the State of West
Bengal did not bring the same to the notice of the learned Reference Judge or
the High Court.
Be that as it may,
having regard to the fact that the Reference Court did not issue any notice to
the West Bengal Housing Board and as some arguable points have been raised by
the learned counsel for the appellants before us, in our opinion, interest of
justice will be sub served if the impugned judgments are set aside and the
matters are remitted to the learned Reference Judge for consideration thereof
afresh. It is directed accordingly.
We place on record
that although the learned counsel for the parties have addressed us, also on
the merit of the matters and pointed out that both the Reference Judge as also
the High Court had failed to consider the legal principles 9 governing the
grant of compensation, in view of the order proposed to be passed by us, we do
not intend to enter there into.
We, however, direct
that the West Bengal Housing Board shall file its written statements before the
learned Reference Judge within three weeks from date. It shall also file all
other necessary documents which are in its power and possession, within four
weeks from date.
If the parties intend
to adduce any other or further evidence, they may be permitted to do so where for
a list of witnesses may be filed before the Court within six weeks from date.
The Reference Judge
is hereby directed to dispose of the matter as expeditiously as possible as and
not later than three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.
We may place on
record that it is stated before us that the appellants have deposited about 50%
of the enhanced amount before the learned Reference Court and the said amount
has been disbursed amongst the land owners.
The appeals are
disposed of with aforementioned observations and directions.
The costs of the
appeals before the High Court as also before this Court shall abide by the
ultimate result of the matter before the Reference Court.