(1.) THIS civil revision under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure is directed against the order of the District Judge, Jabalpur, passed on 17-11-1966 in M. J. C. No. 31 of 1966.
(2.) THE applicant made an application to the District Judge stating that the non-applicant, the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Board, while exercising its statutory powers of laying a transmission line in pursuance to a sanctioned scheme has damaged his property for which he is entitled to compensation. He prayed that the same may be determined under section 16 (3) of the Telegraph Act read with section 42 of the Electricity (Supply) Act. On a preliminary objection raised by the Board, the learned District Judge has held that he has no jurisdiction to entertain the application as, in his opinion, section 42 of the Electricity (Supply) Act does not bring into play section 16 (3) of the Telegraph Act and the remedy, if any, in such a case is by a civil suit.
Kumari P. Surey, the learned counsel for the applicant contends that section 42 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, on its proper construction, brings in by reference the entire Part III [which includes section 16 (3) of the Telegraph Act] and the District Judge by refusing to entertain the application for determination of compensation has failed to exercise a jurisdiction vested in him by law. Shri B. L. Seth, the learned counsel for the Board, on the other hand, supports the reasoning and order of the District Judge.
To appreciate the rival contentions, it is necessary first to read seotion 42 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, which is as under:-
"42. Powers to Board for placing wires, poles, etc.-Notwithstanding anything contained in sections 12 to 16 and 18 and 19 of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, but without prejudice to the requirements of section 17 of that Act where provision in such behalf is made in a sanctioned scheme, the Board shall have, for the placing of any wires, poles, wall-brackets, stays apparatus and appliances for the transmission and distribution of electricity, or for the transmission of telegraphic or telephonic communications necessary for the proper co-ordination of the works of the Board, all the powers which the telegraph authority possesses under Part III of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 with regard to a telegraph established or maintained by the Government or to be so established or maintained: Provided that where a sanctioned scheme does not make such provision as aforesaid, all the provisions of sections 12 to 19 of the first mentioned Act shall apply to the works of the Board."
(3.) PART III of the Telegraph Act, 1885 to which reference is made in section 42 of the Electricity (Supply) Act, 1948, may now be examined. This part contains sections 10 to 19-B under the heading- 'Power to place telegraph lines and posts'. Leaving aside the provisions which apply to property vested in local authorities, the scheme of these sections briefly stated is as follows. Section 10 enables the telegraph authority to "place and maintain a telegraph line under, over, along or across, and posts in or upon, any immovable property". This enabling power is restricted by four provisos appended to the section. The proviso in clause (d), which enjoins the authority to do as little damage as possible and lays upon it the duty to pay full compensation for any damage caused in the exercise of its powers, is worded as follows:-
"Section 10 (d) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.-'In the exercise of the powers conferred by this section, the telegraph authority shall do as little damage as possible, and, when it has exercised those powers in respect of any property other than that referred to in clause (c), shall pay full compensation to all persons interested for any damage sustained by them by reason of the exercise of those powers.' "
Section 11 confers the power on the telegraph authority to enter on property in order to repair or remove telegraph lines or posts. Section 16 (1) provides that if the telegraph authority is resisted or obstructed in exercise of its powers mentioned in section 29, presumably by private owners of property, the District Magistrate may, in his discretion, decide that the authority shall be permitted to exercise those powers. Any person disobeying the order of the District Magistrate is by force of section 16 (2) deemed to have committed an offence under section 188 of the Penal Code. In case of disputes as to sufficiency of compensation payable under section 10 (d), (quoted above), either of the disputing parties can apply to the District Judge under section 16 (3) which reads:
"If any dispute arises concerning the sufficiency of the compensation to be paid under section 10, clause (d), it shall, on application for that purpose by either of the disputing parties to the District Judge within whose jurisdiction the property is situate, be determined by him."
Section 16 (5) makes the determination of the District Judge final. Section 17 contemplates that the person on whose property telegraph lines or posts have been laid may for the beneficial use of his property require the telegraph authority to remove them to another part of the property or to alter them to meet the needs of the owner and any dispute in respect of this matter is to be settled by the District Magistrate. Section 18 provides that if trees interrupt the telegraphic communications they nay be removed on orders of a Magistrate who will also make an award of compensation in favour of persons interested in the trees. Section 19-A provides that if any person in exercise of his legal rights over his property is likely to damage telegraph lines or posts or interferes with telegraphic communications he must give prior notice to the telegraph authority and in the absence of notice a Magistrate on an application of telegraph authority can order him to abstain from dealing with his property for a period of one month.
A reading of these sections and others in Part III of the Telegraph Act goes to show that they are inter-connected with each other in the sense that they while conferring power on the telegraph authority to lay telegraph lines and posts in or upon any immovable property belonging to private owners provide for incidental rights and obligations of the respective parties and machinery for speedily resolving of such disputes as may arise in that connection. The sections form part of one scheme and are therefore collected in Part III of the Act which opens with a compendious Heading-"Power to place telegraph lines and posts.";