Higher Secondary School Vs. Special Tahsildar, Tamil Nadu  INSC 192 (9
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 321 OF
2002 Stanes Higher Secondary School .. Appellant Versus Special Tahsildar,
(Land Acquisition) Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu .. Respondent
We have heard learned counsel for the parties.
The brief facts which are necessary to dispose of this appeal are
recapitulated as under:-
The land belonging to the appellant-School measuring 1 acre 7229
sq.ft. was acquired by the respondent by a 2 notification under Section 4 (1)
of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, [for short, `the Act']. The land which was
being used as the play ground of the school children was acquired for the
purpose of expansion of a road for Ladies' Super Market. The possession of the
land was taken on 21st November, 1975. The lands are situated in the heart of
Coimbatore City and very close to the National Highway No. 47.
The Land Acquisition Officer, by his award dated 31st December,
1981 fixed compensation at the rate of Rs.4/- per sq.ft. and awarded a sum of
Rs.2,91,258/- towards cost of the lands and 15% solatium.
The appellant-School aggrieved by the said award, made a Reference
to the Sub-Court, Coimbatore under Section 18 of the Act. The appellant claimed
compensation at the rate of Rs.30/- per sq.ft. The Sub-Court, Coimbatore,
however, by a comprehensive judgment fixed the compensation at the rate of 3
Rs.20/- per sq.ft. along with solatium of 15 per cent. The Court also awarded
interest at the rate of 4 per cent per annum from the date the possession was
taken till payment was made.
The respondent herein preferred an appeal being A.S. No. 218 of
1992 before the High Court of Madras. The High Court allowed the appeal and
modified the decree reducing the compensation to Rs.10/- per sq.ft. Further,
the High Court fixed the interest at the rate of 9 per cent and solatium at 30
per cent of the market value. The appellant-School, aggrieved by the impugned
judgment of the Madras High Court, preferred this appeal by way of special
It may be pertinent to mention that Section 25 of the Act was
amended with effect from 24th September, 1984.
The un-amended Section 25, as it existed prior to 24th September,
1984, stated as under:
"Section 25. Rules as to amount of compensation:
the applicant has made a claim to compensation, pursuant to any notice given
under Section 9, the amount awarded to him by the court shall not exceed the
amount so claimed or be less than the amount awarded by the Collector under
the applicant has refused to make such claim or has omitted without sufficient
reason (to be allowed by the Judge) to make such claim, the amount awarded by
the court shall in no case exceed the amount awarded by the Collector.
the applicant has omitted for a sufficient reason (to be allowed by the Judge)
to make such claim, the amount awarded to him by the court shall not be less
than, and may exceed, the amount awarded by the Collector."
amended Section 25 reads as under:
25. Amount of compensation awarded by Court not to be lower than the amount
awarded by the Collector.
amount of compensation awarded by the Court shall not be less than the amount
awarded by the Collector under Section 11."
This Court had an occasion to examine the controversy of almost
similar nature in Krishi Utpadan Mandi Samiti etc. v. Kanhaiya Lal & Others
etc. (2000) 7 SCC 756. In this 5 case, this Court relying on its earlier
judgment in Gobardhan Mahto v. State of Bihar (1979) 4 SCC 330, observed as
25 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 before its substitution by Act 68 of 1984,
mandated the court not to award compensation exceeding the amount so claimed by
the landowners and not to be less than the amount awarded by the Collector.
clearly limits awarding of compensation within the amount claimed. On the facts
of the present case it is not in dispute that the award itself was given on
27-12-1977 and even proceeding pursuant to referring order, was concluded on
28- 2-1981, i.e., much prior to the aforesaid amending Act. Thus, on the facts
of this case it is unamended Section 25 to be applicable and not the amended
section. In view of this the peripheral limitation on the court awarding the
compensation, would equally apply to the High Court exercising its power as the
first appellate court."
A three-judge bench of this Court in Land Acquisition Officer-cum-DSWO,
A.P. v. B.V. Reddy and Sons (2002) 3 SCC 463, has clearly laid down in para 6,
which reads as under:
is a well-settled principle of construction that a substantive provision cannot
be retrospective in nature unless the provision itself indicates the same. The
amended provision of Section 25 nowhere indicates that the same would have any retrospective
effect. Consequently, therefore, it 6 would apply to all acquisitions made
subsequent to 24-9-1984, the date on which Act 68 of 1984 came into
In the instant case, admittedly, both the notification and the
award were issued prior to 24th September, 1984. The parties are governed by an
unamended provision of law.
we do not find any infirmity in the impugned judgment of the High Court.
In the present appeal, the land meant for the play ground located
in the heart of Coimbatore city and very close to National Highway no. 47 was
acquired by the respondent. The amount of compensation has already been paid to
the appellant-School. Therefore, in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the
case, the judgment of the High Court is modified and in the interest of
justice, we deem it appropriate to direct the respondent not to recover the
amount of compensation already paid to the appellant-School.
The civil appeal is, accordingly, disposed of. In the facts and
circumstances of the case, we direct the parties to bear their own costs.
...............................................J. [ DALVEER