CHANDULAL PITAMBERDAS Vs. SPL L A OFFICER EASTERN RLY
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
SPECIAL LAND ACQUISITION OFFICER,EASTERN RAILWAY AHMEDABAD
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(1.) These Civil Revision Applications are filed against the decision of the Taxing Officer of this Court holding that in the appeals filed against the judgment and decree of the Civil Court on a reference under sec. 18 of the Land Acquisition Act the applicants-appellants shall pay Court-fees not only on the additional amount claimed at the excess market rate but also on the amount of 15 per cent. solatium to be awarded on the said market rate. Sub-sec. (1) of sec.7 of the Bombay Court-fees Act 1959 is the relevant provision of law with reference to which the question raised has to be answered. 7 (1) The amount of fee payable under this Act on a memorandum of appeal against an order relating to compensation under any Act for the time being in force for the acquisition of land for public purposes shall be computed according to the difference between the amount awarded and the amount claimed by the appellant. This provision of law requires the appellant to pay Court-fees on the difference between the amount awarded by the first Court and the amount claimed by the appellant in the appeal. It is clear that the answer to the contention raised depends on what is the amplitude and connotation of the words amount awarded and the amount claimed by the appellant. On behalf of the applicants it is submitted that the order of the Taxing Officer is erroneous on the grounds that (1) the solatium is a statutory right conferred by the Land Acquisition Act and the Court has to grant the solatium on the amount of compensation allowed irrespective of the fact as to whether the same is claimed or not (2) the petitioner may or may not claim solatium and if the petitioner does not specifically claim solatium then the petitioner cannot be required to pay Court-fees on the solatium on the ground that in any case solatium at the rate of 15 per cent. will be granted to the petitioner on the amount of compensation allowed by the Court and (3) that how much solatium will be given by the Court is uncertain and therefore no Court-fees can be paid on the amount of solatium. It was further urged that the words amount awarded should be interpreted to ordinarily mean the amount of compensation awarded under sub-sec. (1) of sec. 23 of the Land Acquisition Act. These words cannot be interpreted to also include the amount of 15 per cent. of solatium to be added to the market value under sub-sec. (2) of the said section nor would it include the amount of interest or costs awarded. In this revision application, the question raised is only in respect of the additional amount of 15 per cent. on the market value to be awarded and not with regard either to interest or costs. As regards these last two items the question now stands settled that no Court-fees is to be paid on either of them. I will have occasion to refer to the relevant decision on this subject a little later as reliance is placed thereon by the applicants. I shall however first examine the question regarding solatium on its own merits.
(2.) It will be expedient to reproduce sec. 23 of the Land Acquisition Act verbatim. 23 Matters to be considered in determining compensation. (1) In determining the amount of compensation to be awarded for land acquired under this Act the Court shall take into consideration - first the market value of the land at the date of the publication of the notification under sec. 4 sub-sec. (1); secondly the damage sustained by the person interested by reason of the taking of any standing crops 4 or Trees which may be on the land at the time of the Collectors taking possession thereof; thirdly the damage (if any) sustained by the person interested at the time of the Collectors taking possession of the land by reason of severing such land from his other land; fourthly the damage (if any) sustained by the person interested at the time of the Collectors taking possession of the land by reason of the acquisition injuriously affecting his other property movable or immovable in any other manner or his earnings; fifthly if in consequence of the acquisition of the land by the Collector the person interested is compelled to change his residence or place of business the reasonable expenses (if any) incidental to such change; and sixthly the damage (if any) bona fide resulting from diminution of the profits of the land between the time of the publication of the declaration under sec. 6 and the time of the Collectors taking possession of the land. (2) In addition to the market value of the land as above provided the Court shall in every case award a sum of fifteen per centum on such market value in consideration of the compulsory nature of the acquisition. The heading of sec. 23 states what matters shall be taken into account in determining compensation and then the section stands divided into two sub-secs. (1) and (2). Therefore, in determining compensation matters contained in both the sub-sections have to be taken into consideration. Sub-sec. 2 provides for giving of solatium of 15 per cent. on the market value that is determined under sub-sec. (1). But the more important fact to be noted is the use of the expression shall in every case award a sum of fifteen per centum on such market value in sub-sec. (2). These words read in conjunction with the other expression used in sub-sec. (1) In determining the amount of compensation to be awarded for the land acquired under this Act clearly indicate the legislative intent that the sum of 15 per cent. over the market value is also to be a part of the amount to be awarded as compensation for the land that is acquired under the Act. No discretion is left to the deciding authority as regards the quantum of the solatium to be awarded nor any discretion is vested to give it or not to give it and the sum of 15 per cent. over and above, the market value determined under sub-sec. (1) has to be given. One cannot therefore avoid arriving at the conclusion that the solatium is a part of the amount of compensation to be awarded for the land acquired.
(3.) Before I proceed to consider the contention raised that the expression amount claimed should not be interpreted to include the amount of 15 per cent. of solatium to be given it is important to note that both the expressions in question i. e. the amount awarded and the amount claimed are related to the expression compensation which is also to be found in sec. 7(1) of the Court-fees Act and therefore the said two expressions have to be read in context with that expression compensation. Having regard to the context in which these two expressions in question are used it leaves no manner of doubt that the amount awarded is the amount of compensation ordered to be given by the Court against which judgment the appeal is directed and similarly the amount claimed is the amount of compensation that is claimed in the appeal. The Court-fee is therefore to be computed on the difference between the amount of compensation awarded and the amount of compensation claimed in the appeal.;
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