Officer & Asstt. Commnr. & ANR. Vs. Shivappa Mallappa Jigalur &
Ors.  INSC 460 (7 July 2010)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NOS.
4988-5047, 5048-5051, 5052 & 5053 OF 2010 (Arising out of SLP (C)
Nos.25319-25378 of 2004, 23075-23078/2005, 12386/2006 & 1801/2007) LAND
ACQN. OFFICER & ASSTT.COMMNR. & ANR. ...Appellants VERSUS SHIVAPPA
MALLAPPA JIGALUR & ORS. ...Respondents WITH CIVIL APPEAL NOS.5054, 5055,
5056, 5057, 5058, 5059, 5060, 5061, 5062, 5063, 5064, 5065, 5066, 5067, 5068
& 5069 OF 2010 (Arising out of SLP(C) Nos. 18518/2005, 18522/2005,
18523/2005, 18521/2005, 18519/2005, 18525/2005, 18526/2005, 18524/2005,
18528/2005, 20027/2005, 20029/2005, 19786/2005, 19787/2005, 19788/2005,
23003/2005, 22773/2005) WITH (SLP.......(CC) Nos.4641 of 2005, 4646 of 2005 and
SLP (CC) No.5375 of 2005) WITH (SLP .......(CC) Nos.5505, 5521, 5831, 5835,
5853, 5841, 5899 and 5923 of 2005) 2 WITH (SLP (C) No.9504/2005, SLP (C)
No.25015/2005, SLP.....(CC) No.5402/2005, SLP (C) No.241/2006,
SLP(C)No.20021/2005, SLP(C)No.20023/2005, SLP(C) No.20022/2005, SLP (C)
In all the cases in this large group, arising from land
acquisition proceedings, the State of Karnataka is directed to pay interest on
the amounts of solatium. The liability to pay interest on solatium stands
settled by the Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Sunder vs. Union of
India, (2001) 7 SCC 211. But Mr. Sanjay R. Hegde, learned Standing Counsel for
the State of Karnataka, the appellant in all the appeals, submitted that the
question of applicability of the decision in Sunder was explained and clarified
in another Constitution Bench decision of this Court (delivered after the
filing of these appeals) in Gurpreet Singh vs. Union of India, (2006) 8 SCC
457. Relying upon paragraph 54 of the judgment in Gurpreet Singh, Mr. Hegde
submitted that in cases where full payments were made in terms of the decree
and the execution proceedings were consequently closed, the proceedings could
not be re-opened and directions given for payment of interest on the basis of
the decision in Sunder;
any direction for payment of interest on solatium could only be for the period
subsequent to the date of decision in Sunder (September 19, 2001). In other
words, in cases where the full amounts of solatium were paid before September
19, 2001, there would be no question of payment of any interest. He, therefore,
submitted that all the cases should be remitted to the respective courts below
to re- examine the claim of the landowners/claimants in light of the decision
in Gurpreet Singh.
We see no reason to adopt the course suggested by Mr. Hegde. The
facts of the cases before us are quite simple and it can be easily ascertained
which of these cases, if any, are hit by the decision in Gurpreet Singh.
Besides, all the cases are fairly old. An order of remand would simply start a
fresh round of appeals and further appeals, and would keep the land-holders/claimants
embroiled in litigation for an extended period. If we can, we would not like
the landowners/claimants to suffer any longer. If any landowner/claimant has a
lawful claim, he must get it;
the matter must end here and now.
On the basis of the respective facts, the appeals in this group
can be divided into four sub-groups. And now we propose to deal with each
Before proceeding further, it may be stated that some cases
belonging to different sub-groups enumerated herein below were earlier disposed
of in piecemeal manner by order passed on March 25, 2010. Since all the cases
in the different sub-groups are now being dealt within a consolidated manner,
we recall the earlier order passed on March 25, 2010.
4 A CIVIL APPEAL NOS.5054, 5055, 5056, 5057, 5058, 5059, 5060,
5061, 5062, 5063, 5064, 5065, 5066, 5067, 5068 & 5069 OF 2010 (Arising out
of Special Leave Petition (C) Nos. 18518/2005, 18522/2005, 18523/2005,
18521/2005, 18519/2005, 18525/2005, 18526/2005, 18524/2005, 18528/2005,
20027/2005, 20029/2005, 19786/2005, 19787/2005, 19788/2005, 23003/2005,
22773/2005) 5. There are sixteen cases in this sub-group with identical facts.
Mr. Hegde, learned counsel appears on behalf of the appellant, the
Special Land Acquisition Officer and Ms. Kiran Suri, learned counsel represents
the respondents-landowners in all the appeals in this sub-group.
The facts of the case, relevant for the present are very simple
and brief and may be stated thus. The possession of the land coming under
acquisition was taken over by the State on August 14, 1989 even before the
issuance of the preliminary notification that came on January 3, 1992. The Land
Acquisition Officer gave his award on October 13, 1993 fixing compensation at
the rate of Rs.20,000/- per acre. On reference made under Section 18 of the
Act, the civil court, by judgment and order dated November 27, 1998 enhanced
the compensation to Rs.60,000/- per acre. It also awarded solatium @ 30%,
additional market value @ 12% from the date of dispossession till the date of
the award and interest @ 9% for the first year and 15% from the second year
onwards till the date of realisation. Both the Special Land Acquisition Officer
and the landowners/claimants filed their respective appeals against the order
of the civil court. The appeal preferred by the 5 Special Land Acquisition
Officer was dismissed but the appeals of the landowners/claimants (MFAs in the
High Court of Karnataka) came to be admitted. While the landowners appeals were
pending before the Karnataka High Court, a Constitution Bench of this Court
pronounced the judgment in Sunder which settled the issue regarding the
liability of payment of interest on the amount of solatium. Later on, the
appeals filed by the landowners were allowed by the Karnataka High Court by
judgment and order dated March 31, 2003. The High Court further enhanced the
rate of compensation from Rs.60,000/- per acre fixed by the civil court to
Rs.78,000/- per acre and in the operative portion (paragraph 14 of the
judgment) directed as follows:- "Accordingly, we allow all these appeals
in part. The appellants/land owners are entitled to compensation of Rs.78,000/-
per acre, along with the statutory benefits. The awards passed by the Reference
Court under appeals accordingly shall stand modified. In the circumstances of
the case, there shall be no order as to costs."
Following the judgment of the High Court, the landowners once
again went before the execution court for realisation of the additional amounts
in terms of the High Court order. A copy of the execution petition along with
the order sheet of the execution proceeding is produced before us, that leave
no room for doubt that though payments in terms of the decree passed by the
civil court were made earlier, execution proceedings commenced afresh directly
in pursuance of the judgment and order passed by the High Court in the
landowners'/claimants' appeals and the decree/award modified on that basis.
In light of the above facts, we now examine the objection raised
by Mr. Hegde relying upon the observations and directions made in paragraph 54
of the 6 Constitution bench decision in Gurpreet Singh. Paragraph 54 of the
decision is as follows:
One other question also was sought to be raised and answered by this Bench
though not referred to it. Considering that the question arises in various
cases pending in Courts all over the country, we permitted counsel to address
us on that question. That question is whether in the light of the decision in
Sunder vs. Union of India (2001) 7 SCC 211, the awardee/decree-holder would be
entitled to claim interest on solatium in execution though it is not
specifically granted by the decree. It is well settled that an execution court
cannot go behind the decree. If, therefore, the claim for interest on solatium
had been made and the same has been negatived either expressly or by necessary
implication by the judgment or decree of the reference court or of the
appellate court, the execution court will have necessarily to reject the claim
for interest on solatium based on Sunder on the ground that the execution court
cannot go behind the decree. But if the award of the reference court or that of
the appellate court does not specifically refer to the question of interest on
solatium or in cases where claim had not been made and rejected either
expressly or impliedly by the reference court or the appellate court, and
merely interest on compensation is awarded, then it would be open to the
execution court to apply the ratio of Sunder and say that the compensation
awarded includes solatium and in such an event interest on the amount could be
directed to be deposited in execution. Otherwise, not. We also clarify that
such interest on solatium can be claimed only in pending executions and not in
closed executions and the execution court will be entitled to permit its
recovery from the date of the judgment in Sunder (19-9-01) and not for any
prior period. We also clarify that this will not entail any reappropriation or
fresh appropriation by the decree-holder. This we have indicated by way of
clarification also in exercise of our power under Articles 141 and 142 of the
Constitution of India with a view to avoid multiplicity of litigation on this
Relying upon the portion shown in italics in the above quoted
passage, Mr. Hegde argued that in these cases the amount of solatium as
determined by the civil court was paid long before September 19, 2001, following
which the execution proceeding was closed and hence, no liability of any
interest on the 7 amount of solatium could be fastened upon the State in light
of the decision in Gurpreet Singh.
We are unable to accept the submission and in our view the decision
in Gurpreet Singh has no application to the facts of the present cases. In
paragraph 54 of the decision in Gurpreet Singh's case, the Court was
considering the scope of execution proceedings and the limitations of the
execution court. The three lines relied upon by Mr. Hegde must be read and
understood in the context of what is said earlier. The Court clearly said that
the execution court could not go beyond the decree. In the event, the claim of
interest was rejected expressly or by necessary implication in the decree, it
would not be permissible for the execution court to grant interest relying upon
the decision in Sunder. But, even then the Court went on to clarify that if the
award of the reference court or the appellate court was silent on the issue of
solatium and interest then it would be open to the execution court to apply the
ratio of Sunder and say that the compensation awarded would include solatium
and in such an event interest on the amount could be directed to be deposited
in execution. The decision in Gurpreet Singh, thus, actually enlarged the scope
of execution proceeding, in a certain way, on the basis of the decision in
Sunder. Coming now to the passage specially relied upon by Mr. Hegde, we do not
have the slightest doubt that the reference to "closed executions"
mean cases in which the main proceeding arising from the landowner's claim for
enhanced compensation remains pending before the civil court or at the
appellate stage. It may sometimes happen, as illustrated by this case that the
award of the Collector or the decree of the civil court is put to execution and
payments 8 are made in terms of the award or the decree of the civil court and
in that sense the award or the decree is satisfied. Nevertheless, an appeal against
the award or the decree of the civil court may still remain pending either
before the High Court or even before this Court. In appeal, the superior court
may enhance the compensation which would lead to enhancement of solatium and
consequently the interest on the additional amounts of compensation and
solatium. In such a situation, the landowner/claimant would be bound to go back
to the execution court for realisation of the additional amounts in terms of
the modified decree. In such cases, the execution proceedings cannot be deemed
to be closed and neither was it the intent of the observations in paragraph 54
of the decision in Gurpreet Singh. Coming now to the stipulation that any
interest on solatium can only be granted for the period subsequent to September
19, 2001, the date of the decision in Sunder, it is evident that this again, is
a limitation on the power of the execution court. The direction is actually
referable to those cases in which the award of the reference court or the
appellate court being silent, it is left open to the execution court to give
direction for the deposit of interest on solatium. In such cases, the reference
court can ask for interest only for the period subsequent to September 19,
2001. The direction in no way circumscribes the power of the court dealing with
the main proceeding relating to enhancement of the compensation. The matter can
be looked at from another angle. The appeal being the continuation of the
original proceeding, in the facts of the cases in this sub-group, there can be
no question of accrual of interest only after the date of the decision in
Sunder. At this stage, it may be recalled that the civil court had awarded
solatium @ 30% and 9 interest @ 9% for the first year and @ 15% from second
year onwards till the date of realisation. The State's appeal against the
judgment of the civil court was dismissed. Thus, the direction for payment of
solatium with interest at the rates indicated had become final. The High Court
enhanced the rate of compensation.
would inevitably lead to an increase in the amount of solatium and consequently
in the amount of interest on the unpaid amount of solatium. Thus, looked at
from any point of view, the question of payment of interest subsequent to
September 19, 2001 does not arise.
For the reasons discussed above, we see no merit in these appeals.
The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed but with no order as to costs.
For any grievance with regard to calculation of the amounts of
solatium or interest, it will be open to the appellant, the Special Land
Acquisition Officer to raise his objections, if otherwise permissible in law.
...........CC Nos.4641 of 2005, 4646 of 2005 and SLP CC Nos.5375 of 2005.
These three Special Leave Petitions were filed beyond the period
of limitation. In SLP.....(CC) No.4641 of 2005, there is delay of 158 days, in
SLP.... (CC) No.4646 of 2005, there is delay of 219 days and in SLP......(CC)
No.5375 of 2005, there is delay of 187 days.
Mr. Patil, learned Senior Counsel, appearing for the
respondents-landowners stated that after filing the SLPs, the State had made
payment of interest on the amount of solatium to the respondents-landowners. In
SLP.....(CC) No.4641 of 1 2005, the amount of interest paid to the land
owner/respondent was Rs.41,236/-, in SLP.....(CC) No.4646 of 2005, Rs.50,752/-
and in SLP.....(CC) No. 5375 of 2005 it was Rs.41,236/-. Interest was paid,
however, up to the year 2002 and not up to September 11, 2005 when the actual
payment was made. Hence, according to the respondent-landowners, the amount of
interest for the period 2002 to September 11, 2005 still remains unpaid. The
amounts that remain unpaid are much smaller than the amounts that were paid to
the landowners/claimants, as indicated above.
Mr. Patil further stated that these three SLPs before us are out
of a batch of 20 similar cases. Learned counsel gave us a tabular chart giving
the details of all the 20 cases that were disposed of by the High Court under
different MFA Nos. In this Chart, the present SLPs figure at serial nos. 11, 15
and 13. He further informed us that the SLPs arising from the cases at serial
nos. 10 and 16 were earlier dismissed by this Court, one [SLP.....(CC)
No.1611/2005] on the ground of limitation alone and other [SLP.....(CC)
No.3929/2005] both on the ground of delay and on merits.
In the aforesaid facts and circumstances, we see no reason to
interfere in these matters. The Special Leave Petitions are dismissed, both on
grounds of delay and on merits with the direction to the petitioner to pay to
the respective respondents/land owners the balance amounts of interest on
solatium for the period from 2002 to 11.9.2005.
The observations and directions of the High Court in regard to any
1 differences in calculation remain undisturbed.
Nos.5505, 5521, 5831, 5835, 5853, 5841, 5899 and 5923 of 2005.
In view of the order passed in SLP......(CC) Nos.4641 of 2005 etc.
etc., these Special Leave Petitions are also dismissed both on the grounds of
delay and on merits. The observations and directions of the High Court in
regard to any differences in calculation remain undisturbed.
C SLP (C)
No.9504/2005, SLP (C) No.25015/2005, SLP.....(CC) No.5402/2005, SLP (C)
No.241/2006, SLP (C) No.20021/2005, SLP (C) No.20023/2005, SLP (C)
No.20022/2005, SLP (C) No.20024/2005 22. SLP (C) No. 9504/2005 is within time.
Delay condoned in rest of the matters.
In view of the orders passed in the cases in the preceding
sub-groups, all these Special Leave Petitions are to be dismissed subject to
the observation that in case of any grievance in regard to calculations, it
will be open to the petitioner/the Special Land Acquisition Officer to raise
his objections, if otherwise permissible in law.
It may also be added that accrual of interest will cease on the
date the full amount of solatium is paid along with the interest accrued on it.
D CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 4988-5047, 5048-5051, 5052 & 5053 OF 2010
(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.25319-25378 of 2004, 23075-23078/2005, 12386/2006
We finally come to sub-group, to which at least the submission of
Mr. Hegde, based on the decision in Gurpreet Singh seems to fully apply.
The facts of the cases in this sub-group are as brief and simple
as in the earlier sub-groups. In the Collector's award made on August 20, 1997,
the market value of the acquired lands was fixed @ Rs.21,500/- per acre (Kharab
land @ Rs.400/acre). Against the award of the Collector, 20 references came to
be made under section 18 of the Act at the instance of the aggrieved
20 reference cases were decided by a common judgment and order dated November
30, 1998 passed by Civil Judge and Additional CJM, Koppal, in LAC No.44 of 1998
and analogous cases. The civil court enhanced the market value of the subject
lands from Rs.21,500/- per acre to Rs.50,000/- per acre. It also held the
claimants entitled to solatium at 30% of the market value along with the
additional market value at 12% per annum from the date of taking possession of
the land on January 12, 1994 to the date of the award on August 20, 1997. It
further held the claimants entitled to interest @ 9% per annum from the date of
taking possession of the land on January 12, 1994 for the first year and after
that from January 12, 1995 @ 15% till the date of full and final payment of the
compensation. What is relevant for the present, however, is that the civil
court expressly rejected the landowners' claim for interest on solatium
observing as follows:
Claimants are not entitled for interest on solatium and additional market value
in view of the case law reported in 1996 (2) SCC 71 (Premnath Kapoor and
another vs. National Fertilizers Corporation of India Ltd., and others.)."
Apparently no one took the decision of the civil court any further and the
matter was allowed to rest at that stage.
On September 19, 2001 came the decision of the Constitution Bench
of this court in Sunder and then an appeal (MFA No.837 of 2002) was filed
against the judgment and order passed by the Civil Court on November 30, 1998.
The appeal, when it was filed, was barred by limitation by 1072 days. It is
also not denied that long before the filing of the appeal or even before the
judgment in Sunder came on September 19, 2001, the claimants had received all
the payments in terms of the judgment and award given by the civil court.
A single judge of the High Court dismissed the appeal by order
dated March 20, 2002 observing as follows:
The only ground urged by the appellants in their appeals is that the Hon'ble
Supreme Court distinguishing its earlier judgment in the case of PREMNATH
KAPOOR & ANR. VS. NATIONAL FERTILISER CORPORATION OF INDIA LTD., & Ors.
Reported in 1996 (2) SCC 72, has held in Sunder vs. Union of India reported in
2001 (6) SCALE 405, that a claimant is entitled to compensation under the Land
Acquisition Act shall also be entitle to get interest on the aggregate amounts
including solatium. In the said decision a Constitutional Bench of the Supreme
Court has decided the question referred to the Bench as to whether the State is
liable to pay interest on solatium under Sec.23(2) of the Land Acquisition Act
and the said question has been answered in the affirmative.
Therefore, it appears that the appellants who never intended to challenge the
awards were made to file the appeals after the above judgment of the Hon'ble
Supreme Court. Thus no ground is made out by the appellants for condonation of
such exorbitant delay. The appellants could have sought review of the order
before the reference Court in view of the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme
Taking advantage of the remark that in view of the decision in
Sunder, the 1 landowners/claimants might have moved the reference court in
review, as many as 36 review petitions came to be filed before the civil court.
All those review petitions were dismissed by the Civil Judge (Senior Division),
Koppal by order dated January 2, 2003 passed in Misc. Case No.30/202 and
analogous cases. The Civil Judge found that the case set up for condonation of
the huge delay was palpably false and further that the review petitions were
not maintainable and there were no reasonable grounds to review its judgment
and award dated November 30, 1998.
Against the order of the civil court, the landowners/claimants
came in revision before the High Court. A very large number of revisions (59 in
all) were clubbed together for hearing before a division bench of the Karnataka
revisions were finally allowed by judgment and order dated June 1, 2004 in
Civil Revision Petition No.650 of 2003 and other analogous cases. The High
Court did not allow either the long (and unexplained) delay or the earlier
rejection of the claimants' appeal by a single judge of the court against the
judgment of the civil court in section 18 references, or the fact that the
claimants had received all payments in terms of the court's order long before
the decision in Sunder was given by this court, stand in their way in claiming
interest on the amounts of solatium and additional market value. The long and
erudite judgment passed by the High Court is full of kind sentiments for the
revision petitioners whose lands were compulsorily acquired by the Government
and is also supported by good legal reasoning. The High Court decision was
given long before the Constitution Bench decision of this Court in Gurpreet
Singh. But when it comes up for 1 consideration before us in this appeal the
decision in Gurpreet Singh is very much there. We do not know how we would have
responded to the judgment of the High Court, had it come before us, without the
intervening decision of this Court in Gurpeet Singh. But the Constitution Bench
decision is as much binding on us, as on the High Court. And, when tested
against the decision in Gurpreet Singh, the High Court judgment coming under
appeal appears to be plainly untenable. The High Court decision seeks to do
exactly what is held impermissible in Gurpreet Singh. From the facts noted above,
it is manifest and clear that on September 19, 2001 when the decision in Sunder
was rendered, the land acquisition proceedings (including the execution
proceedings) were over and closed. The reference court had given its decision
and the modified award was fully satisfied; all payments in terms of the award
of the reference court were made to the landowners/claimants.
decision in Sunder, an appeal was filed against the judgment and award given by
the reference court. That effort remained unsuccessful. Then a review petition
was filed before the reference court and the matter was finally brought to the
High Court in revision against the order passed by the reference court. It is,
thus, patent that a concluded and closed proceeding was sought to be revived by
the device of filing a review petition and then filing a revision against the
order dismissing the review petition. This was plainly impermissible in view of
the decision of this court in paragraph 54, in Gurpreet Singh.
On behalf of the respondents-landowners/claimants, it was sought
to be argued that the decision in Gurpreet Singh imposed limitations on the
power of the execution court but it did not restrict the power of the High
Court in exercise of its 1 revisional jurisdiction. We are unable to accept the
submission. The order passed by the civil court, dismissing the review petition
was wholly in accordance with the view taken by this court in Gurpreet Singh.
The High Court order, reversing the order of the civil court and allowing the
claim of the respondents led to a result disapproved by this court.
Thus, when looked at from any angle, the High Court decision
coming under appeal is untenable. We are, therefore, constrained to interfere
in the matter and set aside the judgment of the division bench of the Karnataka
High Court coming under appeal.
The appeals in this sub-group are allowed but with no order as to
...................................J. (AFTAB ALAM)
...................................J. (SWATANTER KUMAR)
July 7, 2010.