(1.) THIS order shall dispose of Civil Revisions Nos. 242, 248, 249 and 250 of 1969 also. All these revisions arise out of proceedings in the lower court following references made under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. By section 3 of the Land Acquisition (Madhya Pradesh Amendment)Act, 1959 (5 of 1959), the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, in its application to the bhopal area, was amended as follows :
(1) After clause (g) of section 3 of the Act of 1894, a new clause was added defining 'bhopal area'.
(2) A new section, section 17-A, was inserted in the Land Acquisition act, 1894. giving to the Government the power to issue a direction to the collector that it is urgently necessary to acquire immediate possession of any building site situated in Bhopal area, and providing that upon the issue of such a direction the provisions of section 17 would, in all respects, apply in the case of such site as they apply in the case of waste or arable land.
(3) A new proviso was added to the first clause of section 23 (1 ). The proviso runs thus : -'provided that when the market value of any land situate in Bhopal area, in respect of which the date of publication of the notification aforesaid is after the commencement of the Land Acquisition (Madhya Pradesh amendment) Act, 1957 (21 of 1958), is in excess of its market value as on the 1st day of October, 1955, the market value thereof shall be deemed to blots market value as on the 1st day of October, 1955. '
(4) A new sub-section (3) was inserted to section 23 enjoining the Court to award a further sum not exceeding twenty-five percent of the market value of the land acquired and an additional sum provided under sub-section (2), as the Court may think fit, 'in consideration of the appreciation in the price of the land concerned by reason of the location of the Capital at bhopal, regard being had to the situation of such land. ' it was urged in the lower Court that the amendment, limiting, as it did, the compensation payable for land to be acquired thereafter to the market value of that land on October 1, 1955 together with a certain percentage of such value not exceeding 25 per centum irrespective of the distance of time between that date and the date of acquisition was unconstitutional. It was also argued that the contrary view taken by a Division Bench of this Court in Satish Kumar v. State of M. P. (1961 M. P. L J 881.) must be regarded as overruled by Vajravelu v. The special ,deputy collector (A I R 1965 S. C 1017.) By similar orders passed in these five cases on January 2, 1969, the lower Court overruled the two contentions. Being aggrieved, the claimants have made these applications invoking the jurisdiction of this Court under section 115 of the Code of Civil Procedure to get those orders revised
(2.) THE first question for consideration is whether such a plea can be raised in proceedings grounded on a reference under section 18 of the Land acquisition Act. 1894. Sub-section (1) of that sec ion reads:
" (1) Any person interested who has hot accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, require that the matter be referred by the Collector tor the determination of the court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the persons to whom it is payable, or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested " Long ago, a Division Bench of the Calcutta High Court st ted :
"the object of the reference under section 18 of the Act is to secure the judicial ascertainment of the value of the property acquired, and other matters strictly incidental thereto, and not to determine whether the whole proceeding before the Collector was bad, and the award was illusory as a fraud upon the Act and an evasion thereof by merely nominal compliance with its provisions ' raghunath Das v Collector of Dacca (11 Cal. L. J. 612 p. 615.) In Pramatha Nath v. Secretary of State (A I R 1930 P. C. 64.)their Lordships referred section 18 (1) of the Act and observed : "the section clearly specifies four different grounds of objection, viz: (1) to the measurement of the land; (2) to the amount of compensation; (3) to the persons to whom it is payable and (4) to the apportionment. The distinctions between objection to area and to amount of compensation are also borne out by other sections of the Act; see Sections 9, 11, 19 (d) and 20 (c ). The appellant's objection was manifestly only to the amount of compensation and was correctly so described by the Collector in making the references. By section 20, the function of the court upon a reference being made is 'to determine the objection' and only persons 'interested in the objection' are to be summoned before it, and by Section 21 the scope of the enquiry is to be: 'restricted to a consideration of the interests of the persons affected by the objection'. Their Lordships have no doubt that the jurisdiction of the Courts under this Act is a special one and is strictly limited by the terms of these sections. It only arises when a specific objection has been taken to the Collector's award, and it is confined to a consideration of that objection. Once therefore it is ascertained that the only objection taken is to the amount of compensation, that alone is the 'matter' referred and the Court has no power to determine or consider anything beyond it. " (Page 65 ). In State of Bihar v Kundan Singh (AIR 1964 S. C. 350.)their Lordships stated :
"section 18 (1) provides that any person interested who has not accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the Court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the compensation, the persons to whom it is payable, or the apportionment of the compensation among the persons interested. It is thus clear that the scope of the enquiry under section 18 (1) is specifically indicated by the section itself. The objections which the Court can consider on a reference made to it under section 18 may be either in respect of the measurement of the land, the amount of compensation, the persons to whom it is payable and the apportionment of the compensation among different persons. In dealing with the question about the amount of compensation, the Court may have to take into account the matters specified in section 23. As was observed by the Privy Council in Pramatha Nath Mullick v. Secretary of state (Supra), the section clearly specifies four different grounds of objection which can be the subject-matter of an enquiry in reference proceedings. " (Page 353 ). Although the arguments addressed to us on this point covered a wide ground and our attention was invited by analogy to references under the taxing statutes, it was, in the end, conceded by the counsel for the applicants that, in view of the authoritative pronouncements of the Privy Council and the Supreme Court, the jurisdiction of the Court acting under section 18 of the Land Acquisition act, 1894 was a special one and that it was strictly limited to a consideration of the four different grounds of objection therein mentioned.
(3.) IT was, however, argued by Shri Banerjee that the jurisdiction to consider an objection relating to compensation with reference to the matters specified in section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, necessarily implied jurisdiction to consider whether any amendment engrafted on that section was constitutional. He made the point that such consideration was, in effect, an ascertainment of the matters which could legally be taken into account in determining the compensation and was in that sense strictly within the rule laid down in Pramatha Nath v. Secretary of State (Supra) and State of Bihar v. Kundan Singh (Supra ). In support of this view, the counsel relied upon Jeejeebhoy v. Assistant Collector Thana (A I R 1965 S. C. 1096.) and Balammal v. State of Madras (A I R 1968 S. C. 1425.) wherein the constitutional validity of the relevant enactments was successfully challenged in appeals arising out of land acquisition references. The point whether such a question could be considered in land Acquisition references or appeals arising therefrom was neither raised nor decided. As at present advised, we are inclined to think that a question of this nature is outside the scope of the special jurisdiction under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Since we are not pronouncing any considered opinion on the question, we would here assume that, in the sense contended for, it can be raised but, as we would show immediately, there is, we think, no substance in the main ground urged before us in support of the invalidity of the Land Acquisition (Madhya Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1959.;