NARAYANAN BHATTATHIRIPAD Vs. STATE
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
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(1.) This is an appeal by the plaintiff, whose claim for compensation against the State in respect of certain alleged tortious acts, was negatived by the lower court. According to the plaintiff the said acts caused damages to him to the extent of Rs. 5,600/-. He is the owner of extensive paddy lands at Chengamanad Pakuthy in Kunnathunad Taluk. There is a stream known by that name of Kaithakattu Chira comprised in Sy. Nos. 332/1 and 355/1 of this Pakuthy. There are extensive paddy lands to the north, east and south of this Chira. Out of such paddy lands lying to the east of this Chira, an extent of 100 acres belongs to the plaintiff. The Cochin - Shoranur Railway line passes through this property. The level of the plaintiffs lands is very much higher than the bed level of the stream. The Chira used to serve as the only outlet for the excess water that may be collected in this paddy land. The plaintiff claims to have acquired a right of easement to use the Chira for the purpose of draining such water. Early in the year 1122, the State constructed a dam across the Chira at its lower level some distance to the west of the plaintiffs paddy land, for the purpose of collecting water to be used for irrigating the adjoining lands to enable the owners thereof to raise a second crop of paddy every year. In the month of Thulam of that year the rainfall was unusually heavy with the result that the whole of the excess water collected in the dam could not be easily let out through the sluice provided in the dam. The excess water spread over the paddy lands higher up the dam and the paddy crop in the plaintiffs lands was kept submerged for a number of days. In spite of the complaints preferred by the plaintiff, the authorities concerned are stated to have taken no steps to avert such a damage to the plaintiffs crops. He has further alleged that the land remained wet and spongy for a longer period than usual and thus prevented him to raise gingelly and chama cultivations during that year. On the basis of the average yield from this property the plaintiff has calculated the loss sustained by him in the year 1122 to be 1000 paras of paddy, 50,000 bundles of straw, 200 paras of gingelly seeds and 500 paras of chama. These items have been valued at Rs. 1,500, 1,750, 1,600 and 750 respectively, making a total of Rs. 5,600/-. This loss is attributed to the act of the State in putting up the dam across the Kaithakattu Chira and thus infringing his time-honoured right to have the excess water from his paddy lands drained off through the chira.
(2.) In resisting the plaintiffs claim for compensation the State denied the right of easement claimed by the plaintiff as also the allegation that the plaintiff had sustained damages under the different items mentioned above on account of any unlawful act on the part of the State. The State also maintained that the dam in question was constructed at the request of the land-owners of the locality, prominent among them being the plaintiff himself to enable them to raise an additional crop of paddy from their lands at a time when there was an acute shortage of the staple commodity of paddy. It was also stated that the plaintiff had taken an active part in the construction of the dam and that himself and other landlords in that locality had actually been benefited by the dam. According to the State the lands in that locality would not have been flooded in the year 1122 had it not been for the unusually heavy rains of that year and that even the flood brought about by such natural causes had been relieved against in a short time by taking necessary steps to drain away the water from the paddy lands and thereby averting any loss to the cultivators. A plea of estoppel was also raised against the plaintiffs claim for compensation.
(3.) The Trial Court held that the plaintiffs claim is unsustainable and accordingly dismissed the suit. Hence this appeal.;
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