PEACE MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION ANANTAPUR Vs. COLLECTOR ANANTAPUR
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
PEACE MEMORIAL ASSOCIATION, ANANTAPUR BY ITS SECY.P.
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Gopalrao Ekbote, J. -
(1.) This is a petition Under Art. 226 of the Constitution for the issue of a writ of Mandamus directing, the 1st respondent to make a reference under Section 18 OR the Land Acquisition Act (hereinafter called the Act), to the appropriate Court. The facts relevant for the purpose of this enquiry are that the Government acquired Acs. 1.5 cents of land in connection with the expansion of the Industrial Training institute. The petitioner who claimed himself to be the owner of a portion of that land demanded compensation at the rate of Rs. 500 per cent the land acquistion Officer however by his award dated 5-1-1960 awarded compensation at the rate of Rs. 100.00 per cent, that amount of compensation was issued by the Acquisition authority through a cheque in the name of the petitioner. The petitioner received the cheque on 16-11-1960. The petitioner however received that amount under protest and endorsed on the receipt; "The dispute may kindly be referred to the court of law". In spite of this request the grievance of the petitioner is that the Collector has not made any reference under Section 18 of the Act, to the civil court. It is now sought in this petition mat the respondent should be compelled to reter the dispute to the civil court. The short question which arises for decision is whether the endorsement which the petitioner has made on the receipt requesting the Collector to reter the dispute to the Court of law complies with the requirements of Section 18 of the Act. Section 18 as far as it is relevant for the purpose of this enquiry is in the following terms: "18. (1) Any person interested who has not accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, re-quite that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court, whether his objection be to tha measurement of the land, the amount of condensation, the persons to whom it is payable, or the appointment of the compensation amongst the persons interested. (2) The application shall state the grounds on which objection to the Award is taken." From a reading of the abovesaid provision it becomes manifestly clear that to enable the Collector to make a reference there must be in the first instance an application in writing requesting for a jeference by the party who is interested in such a reference. The application must pray for reference to the court in respect of all or anyone of the matters mentioned in Section 18 namely, whether the objections relate to measurement ot land, the amount of compensation, the persons to whom it is payable and the apportionment of me amount amongst the persons interested. The last thing which Section 18 requires is that the application has to be made within the period of limitation specified In the proviso to Section 18. It cannot be in doubt that the above factors are conditions precedent to the exercise of jurisdiction by the civil court to whom reference is to be made. It is also not in doubt that importance will be attached not to the form but to the substance ot the application made. If the written application substantially complies with the requirements of that section, it cannot be said that tne Collector can refuse to refer. It must be remembered that while making a rere-fence the Collector does not act merely as an agent or the Government. He acts like any other statutory autho-rity functioning with the powers conferred on him under the Act. It follows that he has to act judicially in making the reference. It is no doubt true that if the application does not comply with the requirements of Section 18, no may withhold the reference. But it is not open to mm to decide an application under Section 18 on merits or objections raised therein and refuse to refer the matter to the civil court. All that he can do is to decide whether the formalities or the requirements laid down in Section 18 of the Act have been complied with or not. It the Collec-tor either refuses to enquire into the question whether the formalities have been complied with or not, or unautnonsedly refuse to refer the matter, or if he is wrong in the view he has taken as to the maintainability of the petition and on that ground refuses to make a, reference, it is always open to the person aggrieved to approach this Court in order to compel the Collector to make a reference under Section 18 of the Act. That being the true positjon of law, as I understand it, what I have to find out is whether the request made by the petitioner substantially complies with the provisions of the Act. It is not in dispute that the petitioner before me had put in his claim before the Acquisition Officer in fletail. His only complaint was that the quantum of compensation has not been adequately fixes. He was demanding at the rate of Rs. 500.00 per cent, while he was granted ony at the rate of Rs. 100 - per cent, in his request which he made by an endorsement on the receipt, it is stated that he received the amount under protest, which necessarily implies that he was not satisfied with the quantum of compensation fixed by the Acquisition Officer and it is only for that purpose that he waited the reference to be made. The ground on which reference was sought therefore was clear in his request. It is not necessary under the section for him to give details of the grounds on the basis of which he wants the Collector to make a reference. It is enough if the written application discloses the ground which he wants to agitate before the civil court, in this case no party is in doubt about quantum of compensation as he was not satisfied with it. That is why he received the amount under protest.
(2.) The next factor which according to the section is required is that the application must be filed within limitation. Undoubtedly the request made by him was well within the limitation. I can see therefore no ground for the Collector to either sleep over the matter or refuse to make any reference. In my judgment the abovesaid request fulfils all the requirements of Section 18 and it cannot be said that the formalities prescribed in section is are not followed in making that request. I am fortified in my conclusion by thw following two decisions: a) Krishnsmal v. Collector of Colmbatore, AIR 1927 Mad 282 b) Provident Investment Co. v. Land Acquisition officer, AIR 1935 Bom 319.
(3.) The result therefore is that the writ petition is allowed. The writ will Issue. The Collector as defined in the Act, i. e., L. A. Officer, the 2nd responded is directed to make a proper reference to the appropriate civil court. In the circumstances of the case I make no order as to costs.;
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