Savakar & Others Vs Assistant Commnr. & Land Acquisition Officer &
J U D G M E N T
these civil appeals, the dispute is primarily over the quantum of the market
value of the land acquired by the Government of Karnataka (hereinafter `the
to a notification issued under Section 4 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act,
published in the Karnataka Gazette on 16.05.1991 an extent of 76 acres and 10
guntas of land situated in Gadag were acquired for Karnataka Housing Board (hereinafter
`the Board'). The Land Acquisition Officer determined the market value at Rs.35,000/-
per acre and passed an award to that effect on 5th March, 1994. Assailing the said
quantum, the landowners filed a reference. The Reference Court on a detailed
consideration of the matter and after examining 22 witnesses and scrutinizing
about 35 documents, which were made exhibits, fixed the market value of the
acquired land at Rs.14,500/- per gunta, apart from granting other statutory
operative portion of the order of the Reference Court is set out below:
a. " Reference in
L.A.C. No. 12/95 to 20/95 are accepted in part.
b. Market value in respect
of the acquired lands is determined at Rs.14,500/- per gunta.
c. The claimants are entitled
to additional market value at 12% p.a. on the market value from the date of
preliminary notification to the date of the award of the L. A. O. or the date
of dispossession whichever is earlier.
d. The claimants are
entitled to solatium at 30% on enhanced market value.
e. The claimants are
entitled to the interest at 9% p.a. on the enhanced compensation from the date of
dispossession for a period of one year and further interest at 15% p.a. on the enhanced
compensation after expiry of above stated one year till the date of payment.
f. The original Judgment
is kept in L.A.C. No. 12/95 and copies are ordered to be kept in L.A.C. No.
13/95 to 20/95. (Dictated to the stenographer, typed by her, corrected by me
and then pronounced in open Court) Gadag Dated. 25.01.2000 (B. M. ANGADI) Civil
Judge, Senior Division, Gadag."
coming to the aforesaid findings, the Reference Court made it clear that the Land
Acquisition Officer had not at all considered the non-agricultural potentiality
of the acquired land, even though the land was within the municipal limits. The
Reference Court also relied on a map which was prepared by PW-1 showing the
civil amenities in the vicinity of the acquired land. The Reference Court also
relied on sale deeds Ext. P-8 to P-17.
aggrieved by the order of the Reference Court dated 25.1.2000, the claimants filed
a Miscellaneous First Appeal before the High Court under Section 54 of the Land
Acquisition Act. The High Court framed two questions:
i. Whether the finding
of the Reference Court that the fixation of market value by LAO is inadequate,
is correct? ii. Whether the market value fixed by the Reference Court at
Rs.14,500/- per gunta is erroneous and requires interference?
a lengthy discussion, the High Court held that the determination by the
Reference Court on the basis of sale transactions (Ext. P-8 to P-17) is based
on two premises. According to the High Court, the two premises were:
i. The auction sales
(disclosed by Ex. P 8 to Ex. P 17) reflect the proper market value in the area.
ii. The sites sold under Ex. P 9 to P 17 are in close proximity to the acquired
land; that is sites 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 covered by sale deeds (Ex. P 9 to Ex. P
14) are within a distance of 60 mtrs. and sites 1, 9, 12 and 13 covered by sale
deeds (Ex. P 8, P 15, P 16 and P 17) are at a distance of about 500 mtrs. from
the acquired land.
High Court held both the premises to be incorrect and did not uphold the
decision of the Reference Court. However, the High Court noted that the Board, the
beneficiary of the acquisition, had filed an application under Order XLI Rule
27 of the Code of Civil Procedure, for leading of further evidence stating
therein that some of the landowners had given consent to passing of an award at
the rate of Rs.73,000/- per acre. However, those records could not be produced
as they were burnt by fire. Under those circumstances, the Housing Board sought
an opportunity to let in further evidence. It appears that the claimants also filed
an application under Order XLI Rule 27 of the Code of Civil Procedure for
filing further evidence. In view of such petitions being filed, the High Court
came to an opinion that the ends of justice require that the parties should be given
an opportunity to let in fresh evidence. The High Court, thereafter, quashed the
judgment under appeal and remanded the matter to the Reference Court with a
direction to the parties to lead additional evidence.
Court is rather constrained to observe that it is difficult to appreciate the
reasoning given by the High Court to remand the appeals after entering into
detailed findings running into more than 50 pages.
the matter is pending before this Court since 2002. The acquisition is of the
year 1991. Therefore, about 20 years have elapsed since the initiation of acquisition
proceedings and the matter has been kept pending in this Court for about 9
years. In between attempts were made for settling the controversy on the basis
of an offer made by the landowners. The said offer was recorded by this Court in
its order dated 15th November, 2007: "Learned senior counsel for the landowners
has made a statement that his clients are prepared to accept a deduction of 70%
as was found by the High Court. The Housing board may consider the offer and file
an affidavit regarding the price which they are agreeable to pay to the land
owners as compensation."
on 29th July, 2010 another offer was made by the landowners whereby they had agreed
to a reduction of 75% of the market value fixed by the Reference Court. But
that was also not accepted by the Board. The order dated 29th July, 2010 is set
out: "After the arguments were heard for some time, the Court again
suggested the parties to work out an amicable settlement of the rate on which
deduction could be made from the price of the sale transactions (Exhibit 8 to
17) for the purpose of fixation of market value. Mr. S. Balakrishnan, learned
senior counsel appearing for the Karnataka Housing Board very graciously
submitted that he will again impress upon the authorities to agree to a
deduction of 75% instead of 70% as suggested by the learned counsel for the
appellants on an earlier occasion. On the request of the learned senior counsel,
the cases are adjourned to 12.08.2010."
the facts and circumstances of this case and the long passage of time that has intervened,
this Court is of the opinion that the 8 ends of justice will not be served if the
impugned order of the High Court of remitting the controversy to the Reference
Court at this stage is allowed.
Court is, therefore, of the opinion that the matter should be decided once and
for all, having regard to the peculiar circumstances of this case and the time
that has lapsed between the initiation of acquisition proceeding in 1991 and non-payment
of the compensation to the landowners till date. Several substitution applications
are on record to show that many of the original landowners have expired in the course
of these proceedings.
all these facts and the increasing value of the land and the decreasing value
of money, this Court, in exercise of its jurisdiction under Article 142 of the Constitution,
is of the view that the proposal of the landowners of agreeing to 75% deduction
on the market value fixed by the Reference Court would meet the ends of justice.
This Court, therefore, disposes of these appeals by directing the Housing Board
to pay to the appellants the amount of compensation as fixed by the Reference Court
after imposing a deduction of 75%. The appellants would also be entitled to all
the statutory benefits on the aforesaid amount.
payment shall be made by the Karnataka Housing Board within a period of three
months from date, failing which it will have to pay an additional interest of
9% from the date of expiry of the period of three months till the date of actual
payment. The appeals are, thus, disposed of. No costs.
(ASOK KUMAR GANGULY)