MOHAMED GHOUSE Vs. REVENUE DIVISIONAL OFFICER
HIGH COURT OF MADRAS
REVENUE DIVISIONAL OFFICER
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T.RAMAPRASADA RAO, J. -
(1.) THESE two appeals are connected. A.S. No. 365 of 1966 is by the claimant against the award of the learned Subordinate Judge of Vellore, who after enquiry, granted compensation for the lands compulsorily acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, which compensation, according to the appellant, is insufficient. A.S. No. 436 of 1966 is by the State who mainly questions the right of the Court below for having entertained the claim as regards compensation because there was a statutory bar under Section 25(2) of the Act which prevented the Court below from enquiring into it. It, therefore, follows that if the preliminary objection raised by the State in A.S. No. 436 of 1966 has to be accepted, it may not be necessary for us to deal with the merits of A.S. No. 365 of 1966. In the light of this, we intend proceeding to consider the objections raised by the State in A.S. No. 436 of 1966 and thereafter, if necessary, advert to A.S. No. 365 of 1966.
(2.) AN extent of 1.99 acres of lands in Shanaukuppam Village, Vellore, belonging to the respondent was acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act for laying the second railway track between Latheri and Vinnamangalam Stations. The notification under Section 4(1) of the Act was made on 4th July, 1962. It appears from the record that the Land Acquisition Officer, issued the usual notices including that under Section 9 of the Act and called upon the respondent -claimant to state his objections and inter alia the quantum of compensation required by him. We are not, however, asserting that the prescribed notice under Section 9 was issued in the instant case, for, there is no material before us to find that way. On the assumption, however, that the notice issued by the Land Acquisition Officer were in accordance with the statutory requirements as provided for in the Land Acquisition Act, we are proceeding to deal with the preliminary objection raised by the learned Government Pleader before us.
(3.) AFTER receiving the notice, it appears that the claimant's son presented himself before the Land Acquisition Officer. But as it transprises, no specific claim was made by the representative of the claimant before the Land Acquisition Officer. That no such specific claim was made is not in dispute. The Land Acquisition Officer, however, proceeded with the enquiry and granted a compensation, which it is not necessary for us at this stage to state. Not being satisfied with the compensation so awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer, the claimant sought for a reference under Section 18 of the Act and accordingly a reference was made. The Court entertained the said claim in the ordinary course and at the time when the claim was being enquired into in the normal way, an objection was taken by the State that the claimant was not entitled to any more compensation than that awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer, because of the statutory interdict in Section 25(2) of the Land Acquisition Act. The claimant's objection which gained favour with the Court below was that in the absence of a specific pleading to that effect by the State after a reference under Section 18 was made to Court, it was not open to the State to make such an objection and pursue the same. We find from the order of the Court below that it was of the view that in the absence of any pleading to that effect by the State, it was not competent to raise the question as above at that stage. Incidentally, the learned Subordinate Judge also considered whether there was any statutory duty on the part of the Land Acquisition Officer to inform the claimant before him, who appeared after service of notices under Section 9 of the Act, informing them that they should make a specific claim by way of compensation as representing the price of the lands compulsorily acquired and warning them that in the absence of such a claim, no more compensation can be granted by the Court in further proceedings thereafter. The learned Subordinate Judge was in two minds on this question and he referred to certain decisions of our Court. But ultimately he was of the view that on a closer reading of Section 9(2) of the Act, the statute cast an obligation on the part of the Land Acquisition Officer to require the claimant to state the amount of compensation to him. Reliance is placed upon the last sentence in Section 9(2) of the Act. Therefore, the Court below, whilst negativing the right of the State to raise the preliminary objection on the ground of absence of pleading, also accepted the contention of the claimant that in the absence of any question put by the Land Acquisition Officer in the course of the enquiry as to the quantum of compensation required by the claimant, there was no impediment for the Court to grant higher compensation. It was on these two grounds that he negatived the objection of the State under Section 25(2) of the Act.
In appeal No. 436 of 1966, the learned Government Pleader reiterates that the interdict under Section 25(2) is formidable and the view of the Court below that in the absence of a pleading, the objection cannot be projected, is unsound and not maintainable. He also contends that there is no statutory duty on the part of the Land Acquisition Officer to inform the claimant other things being equal and the requirements of the statute being otherwise satisfied, that he should make a specific claim as regards the quantum of compensation required by him.;
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