Authority Vs. S.S. Aggarwal and others
Union of India Vs. S.S.
Aggarwal and others
S.S. Aggarwal and
others etc. etc. Vs. Union of India and another
J U D G M E N T
G.S. Singhvi, J.
1. Leave granted in
SLP(C) Nos. 18056-18057 of 2003.
2. These appeals are directed
against judgment dated 21.2.2003 of the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court
whereby the appeals preferred by two groups of persons i.e., S.S. Aggarwal and
others and Om Prakash and others under Section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act,
1894 (for short, "the Act") were allowed and market value of the acquired
land fixed by Additional District Judge, Delhi (hereinafter described as, `the Reference
Court') was enhanced from Rs.102/- to Rs.7,390/- per square yard.
3. By notification dated
6.1.1995 issued under Section 4(1) read with Section 17(1) of the Act, the
Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi proposed the acquisition of
27 bighas 5 biswas land situated at village Jasola. After 4 days, the
declaration was issued under Section 6 of the Act.
4. In response to the
notice issued under Section 9 of the Act, the landowners filed three claim
petitions through the same Advocate, namely, Ch. Sawrup Singh. One of the petitions
was filed by Kishan Lal and 13 others. The other was filed by S.K. Sarogi and
another and the third was filed by Mangla Ram and 3 others. They pleaded that
keeping in view the prevailing market rates, they be paid compensation at least
at the rate of Rs.4,000/- per square yard. In support of their claim, the
landowners relied upon the allotments made by the Delhi Development Authority (for
short, `the DDA') at a concessional rate of Rs.2,200/- per square yard.5. During
the pendency of the matter before the Land Acquisition Collector, Delhi, Mangla
Ram and 3 others executed Assignment Deed dated 21.9.1995 in favour of Om
Prakash, Phire Ram and Vinod Kumar (all sons of Ch. Swarup Singh, Advocate, who
was representing the landowners before the Land Acquisition Collector).
The relevant portions
of the assignment deed are extracted below: "WHEREAS, the Vendors are the actual
owners of the Acquired Land Total Measuring 8 Bighas and 5 Biswas, in Khasra No.
133 situated in Revenue Estate of Village Jasola, Tehsil Mehrauli, New Delhi. That
the above said land has been notified under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act,
1894, on 6.1.1995, and declaration under Section 6 and notification under 17(1)
of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, has also been issued on 10th Jan. 1993 but the
compensation in respect of said land has not been passed by Govt. to the
Vendors so far. AND WHEREAS, the possession of the said land has also been
taken by the Govt. on 22nd February, 1995.AND WHEREAS, the Vendors have willingly
agreed to sell transfer the said compensation right of the said land measuring
8 bighas 5 biswas, in Khasra No. 133, of village Jasola, Tehsil Mehrauli, New Delhi,
whatsoever to be settled
by the Land Acquisition Collector in award or by the court in reference or in
revisions or appeals of the same in High Courts with all rights to recover and receive
the same from the concerned authorities/deptts. for a sum of Rs.4,80,000/- [Rs.
Four lacs and eighty thousand only] and the Vendees have agreed to purchase the
same for said amount. The entire consideration amount of Rs. 4,80,000/- [Rs
Four lacs and eighty thousand only], has already been received in advance by the
Vendors from the Vendees [the receipt whereof, the Vendors admit and
acknowledge] in full and final settlement.
NOW THIS ASSIGMENT DEED
WITNESSETH AS UNDER:
the Vendors do hereby sell, transfer, convey and assign the compensation
rights, whatsoever to be settled by the Land Acquisition Collector inAward or by
the courts in reference perceptions, revisions as sale etc. of the same to be
filed in Delhi High Court and other higher courts with rights to receive and recover
the same from the concerned authorities/Deptts. with each and every rights which
vest in their names as towards the above said award of the Land Acquisition
Collector and in reference, revisions, appeals etc. upto the Vendees.
the Vendors admit that they have no right left with the compensation right to
be settled in above said award or in reference, revisions or appeals etc. and the
same has become property of the Vendees, with the rights to receive and recover
the Vendors admit that the Vendees are fully entitled to substitute themselves before
Land Acquisition Collector in Award/reference as mentioned above and to conduct
the same. The vendors have handed over and delivered the notices and other acquisition
documents and all other relevant papers/documents to the Vendees.
the Vendors have assured the Vendees that they have not entered into any agreement
with anyone else for the said transfer of the said compensation right to be settled
in award by the Land Acquisition Collector and references, revisions, appeals,
etc. and they further admit and declare that if found and proved otherwise, then
the Vendors shall be liable and responsible to make good the losses suffered by
the Vendees and to repay the said received amount with costs and damages to the
Vendees. The Vendees then shall be entitled to recover the said amount from the
Vendors, their properties both moveable and immovable.
the Vendors declare that the Deed which is executed by the Vendors in favour of
the Vendees for that they are fully entitled to execute the same without consent
of any other person/s are entitled owners of the same, they transferred their rights,
titles and interests and claims in the same for ever in favour of the said Vendees.
The heirs and successors of the Vendors will have no right to challenge
other landowners appear to have executed a similar assignment deed in favour of
S.S. Aggarwal and 5 others, who are appellants in the appeal arising out of
the assignees were very much aware that claims filed by the landowners were pending
before the Land Acquisition Collector and in terms of paragraph 3 of the assignment
deeds, they could apply for substitution, all of them deliberately kept quiet and
did not produce assignment deeds before the Land Acquisition Collector, who ultimately
passed award dated 11.10.1995 and fixed market value of the acquired land at
the rate of Rs.98/- per square yard.
announcement of the award, S.S. Aggarwal and 5 others filed an application
under Section 18 of the Act for re-fixation of market value of the acquired
land at the rate of Rs.10,000/- per square yard by asserting that they fall in
the category of interested persons. Similar application was filed by Om Prakash
and two others. The Collector did not make any inquiry on the issue of locus of
S.S. Aggarwal and others to claim compensation and referred the matter to the
Court. The Reference Court too did not inquire about the entitlement of S.S. Aggarwal
and others to claim compensation and disposed of the reference by fixing market
value of the acquired land at the rate of Rs.1,02,000/- per bigha.
dissatisfied with the determination made by the Reference Court, S.S. Aggarwal
and 5 others filed an appeal under Section 54 of the 7Act and claimed that even
though they were entitled to enhanced compensation at the rate of Rs.2,00,000/-
per bigha, but due to paucity of funds, they were limiting their claim to
Rs.3,000/- per square yard. Similar appeal was filed by Om Prakash and 2
four and a half years of filing the appeals, S.S. Aggarwal and 5 others filed C.M.
No.1340 of 2002 under Order VI Rule 17 read with Section 151 CPC for amendment
of the memo of appeal so as to enable them to claim compensation at the rate of
Rs.7,000/- per square yard. Simultaneously, they deposited court fee of
Rs.4,98,000/- by assuming that the High Court will necessarily accept their
prayer for amendment. Notice of the application was given to the counsel
representing the Union of India on 5.9.2002, but no order was passed granting or
refusing the prayer for amendment.
The appeals were
finally disposed of by the Division Bench of the High Court vide judgment dated
21.2.2003 and market value of the acquired land was fixed at Rs.7,390/- per
square yard. By an order of the same date, the Division Bench of the High Court
allowed C.M. No.1340 of 2002 in the following terms: "By this application amendment
has been sought to the memorandum of appeal. Such like applications have been decided
in a number of cases by this Court.
Amendment to the memorandum
of appeal to claim higher amount of compensation has been sought on the ground that
while filing appeal, due to paucity of funds, the appellants could not claim
proper amount of compensation though in the reference higher amount of
compensation had been claimed by them. Considering the facts and circumstances of
the case and the principle that a claimant must be paid fair amount of compensation
in case his property is acquired for public purpose by the State and relying
upon the ratio of the decisions of the Supreme Court in Harcharan Vs. State of
Haryana AIR 1983 SC 43; Bhag Singh & Ors. Vs. Union Territory of Chandigarh
(1985) 3 SCC 737; Scheduled Caste Co-operative Land Owing Society Ltd. Bhatinda
vs. Union of India and Others (1991) 1 SCC 174; Chand Kaur & Others Vs.
Union of India (1994) 4 SCC 663; Gokal vs. State of Haryana AIR 1992 S.C. 150
and Buta Singh (Dead) by L.Rs. Vs. Union of India (1995) 5 SCC 284 the prayer
made in the application is allowed subject to the condition of the appellant making
good the deficiency in court fee within a period of four weeks, if not already
Gita Luthra, learned senior counsel appearing for the Union of India assailed the
impugned judgment mainly on the ground that the High Court committed serious error
by entertaining the amendment application filed after a long time gap of four and
a half years. She relied upon the judgments of this Court in Buta Singh v.
Union of India (1995) 5 SCC 284 and Union of India v. Pramod Gupta (2005) 12
SCC 1 and argued that the High Court should not have granted the prayer for
amendment because the applicants had not given any tangible explanation for the
long delay of four and a half years.
Ms. Luthra further argued
that the High Court was not justified in disposing of the appeals without first
deciding the amendment application and giving an opportunity to the acquiring authority
and the ultimate beneficiary i.e. the DDA to contest the prayer made by S.S.
Aggarwal and others for fixation of market value at the rate of Rs.7,000/- per
square yard. Learned senior counsel then argued that the assignment deeds
executed by the landowners constituted the best piece of evidence for
determination of market value but the assignees deliberately withheld the same
from the Land Acquisition Officer, the Reference Court and the High Court and this,
by itself, should be treated as a ground for remitting the matter to the Reference
Court. Ms. Luthra further argued that the High Court committed serious error by
awarding compensation over and above what was claimed in the amendment
application and that too without taking into consideration the fact that Om
Prakash and others had not even filed an application for amendment of the memo
Amarendra Sharan, learned senior counsel appearing for the DDA argued that the
impugned judgment is liable to be set aside because the assignees had deliberately
kept the Land Acquisition Collector, the Reference Court and the High Court in dark
about the assignment deeds under which they claim to have purchased the right
to get compensation by paying a meager sum of Rs.58/- per square yard to the landowners.
Shri Sharan referred to Sections 23 and 28 of the Contract Act and argued that
the assignment deeds are liable to be treated as void because the same are not only
opposed to public policy,
But have the effect of
defeating the objects of the Delhi Lands (Restrictions on Transfer) Act, 1972, which
prohibit transfer of land after issue of notification under Section 4(1). In
support of this argument, Shri Amarendra Sharan relied upon the judgments of
this Court in Rattan Chand Hira Chand v. Askar Nawaz Jung (1991) 3 SCC 67, Murlidhar
Dayandeo Kesekar v. Vishwanath Pandu Barde (1995) Supp. 2 SCC 549, Central
Inland Water Transport Corporation v. Brojo Nath Ganguly (1986) 3 SCC 156 and Jayamma
v. Maria Bai (2004) 7 SCC 459. Shri Sharan lastly submitted that the landowners
are entitled to just and reasonable compensation as of right and the assignees
cannot take advantage of their better financial position to unduly enrich
themselves by getting huge compensation.
Dhruv Mehta, learned senior counsel appearing for S.S. Aggarwal and other
assignees argued that the DDA does not have the locus to question the
assignment deeds by invoking Article 14 of the Constitution and Sections 23 and
28 of the Contract Act because it was not a party before the Reference Court. Shri
Mehta emphasised that the assignment deeds are 1registered documents which were
executed by the landowners with full knowledge of the consequence of assignment
and it is not open to the Union of India and the DDA to indirectly question the
transaction involving transfer of the right to receive compensation. Shri Mehta
relied upon the judgments in Dawson v. Great Northern and City Railway Company
(1905) 1 KB 260, Sunrise Associates v. Government of NCT of Delhi (2006) 5 SCC 603
and unreported judgment of the Delhi High Court in Appeal No.140 of 1972-Laxmi Narayan
v. Union of India and another decided on 24.11.1977 and argued that the right
to receive compensation is in the nature of property right and the same can be
assigned by the owner of the property. Shri Mehta strongly supported the order
passed by the High Court granting leave for amendment of the claim by pointing out
that the landowners had claimed compensation at the rate of Rs.4,000/- and in
the applications filed under Section 18, the assignees had clearly indicated
that market value of the acquired land is at least Rs.10,000/- but due to
paucity of funds, they had restricted the claim to Rs.3,000/- per square yard.
have considered the respective submissions in the back drop of the fact that
even though in terms of the assignment deeds, S.S. Aggarwal and others became
entitled to seek substitution before the Land Acquisition Collector, they neither
sought impleadment in the award proceedings nor produced the assignment deeds
to show that the landowners had transferred the right to receive compensation.
senior counsel appearing for the assignees could not offer any tangible explanation
as to why his clients chose to keep the Land Acquisition Collector, the
Reference Court and the High Court in dark about the execution of the
assignment deeds by the landowners. Therefore, it is reasonable to presume that
they had done so deliberately and the only possible reason for this could be to
avoid a proper scrutiny by the Land Acquisition Collector and two judicial forums
about their entitlement to receive compensation at a rate higher than Rs.58/-
per square yard paid to the landowners. If the assignment deeds had been
produced before the Land Acquisition Collector or the Reference Court, either
of them could have held an inquiry and given an opportunity to the landowners
and/or assignees to explain the position. By withholding the assignment deeds, the
assignees succeeded in avoiding proper scrutiny of their claim for compensation
at the hands of the Land Acquisition Collector, the Reference Court and the
the aforesaid scenario, it will be just and proper to set aside the impugned judgment
and remit the case to the Reference Court for fresh determination of the amount
of compensation payable to the landowner and/or assignee after giving them reasonable
opportunity of adducing evidence in support of their respective cases.
also find merit in the submission of Ms. Gita Luthra that the High Court
committed serious error by entertaining and allowing the amendment application
filed by S.S. Aggarwal and others. What has surprised us is that the High Court
first decided the appeals filed by the assignees and then disposed of the
amendment application and that too without going through the records. If this
was not so, there was no occasion for the High Court to incorporate the condition
of making good the deficiency in court fee. By this process, the Union of India
and the DDA were deprived of an important opportunity to make a request to the High
Court to remit the case to the Reference Court or at least allow them to adduce
evidence on the issue of correct market value of the acquired land. Another
grave error committed by the High Court in this regard was that it allowed the amendment
application without even adverting to the issue of unexplained delay of 4 and
Union of India v. Pramod Gupta (supra), this Court considered the legality and propriety
of granting prayer for amendment in a case somewhat similar to the present one
and observed: "Delay and laches on the part of the parties to the
proceedings would also be a relevant factor for allowing or disallowing an application
for amendment of the pleadings. The High Court neither assigned sufficient or cogent
reasons nor applied its mind as regards the relevant factors while allowing the
said application for amendment. It has also not been taken into consideration that
the application for amendment of pleadings might not have been maintainable in
view of statutory interdict contained in sub-section (2) of Section 25 of the Act,
if the same was applicable. In Anoop Singh whereupon reliance has been placed by
Mr Salve, the Division Bench of this Court did not have any occasion to consider
that decisions of this Court in Krishi Utpadan Mandi Samiti v. Kanhaiya Lal and
B.V. Reddy which, it will bear repetition to state, are authorities for the
proposition that once it is held that Section 25(2) of the Act would be attracted
in a given case, the parties are estopped and precluded from claiming any amount
higher than that claimed in their claim petition before the Collector. An
observation made to the effect that an application under Order 6 Rule 17 would be
maintainable having regard to Section 53 of the Act, with utmost respect, does not
constitute a binding precedent. No ratio has been laid down therein and the observations
made therein are without any discussion.
Furthermore no reason
has been assigned in support of the said proposition of law. In Harcharan also
this Court did not address the question as to whether Order 6 Rule 17 would be
applicable in relation to the original claim petition or memo of appeal. It may
be true that not only the memorandum of appeal but also the reference was amended.
Mr Rao pointed out that the necessary amendments have been carried out in the
application for reference or memorandum of appeal. In terms of Order 6 Rule 18
of the Code of Civil Procedure, such amendments are required to be carried out
in the pleadings by a party which has obtained leave to amend his pleadings
within the time granted therefore and if no time was specified then within
fourteen days from the date of passing of the order.
The consequence of failure
to amend the pleadings within the period specified therein as laid down in
Order 6 Rule 18 of the Code is that the party shall not be permitted to amend its
pleadings thereafter unless the time is extended by the court. It is not in
dispute that such an order extending the time specified in Order 6 Rule 18 has
not been passed."
the result, the appeals are disposed of in the following terms:
impugned judgment as also the one passed by the Reference Court are set aside.
matter is remitted to the Reference Court for fresh determination of the compensation
payable to the landowners and/or assignees. While doing so, the Reference Court
should first decide the issue of locus of the assignees to claim compensation. If
it is held that the assignees are entitled to step into the shoes of the
landowners, then the Reference Court shall consider the value of the land mentioned
in the assignment deeds and decide what compensation should be paid for the
Reference Court shall give opportunity to the parties to lead additional
evidence in support of their respective cases.
view of the law laid down in Delhi Development Authority v. Bhola Nath Sharma (2011)
2 SCC 54, the DDA shall be entitled to participate in the proceedings of the
Reference Court and raise objections against the claim made by the assignees
for payment of compensation. The DDA shall also be entitled to raise all other
legally permissible objections to contest the claim of the assignees.
the case is sufficiently old, we direct the Reference Court to decide the matter
within a maximum period of one year from the date of receipt/production of copy
of this judgment.
[Asok Kumar Ganguly]