SAILAJA KANTA MITRA Vs. STATE OF WEST BENGAL
HIGH COURT OF CALCUTTA
SAILAJA KANTA MITRA
STATE OF WEST BENGAL
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Bagchi, J. -
(1.) The two appeals and seventeen revisional applications arise out of the awards passed by Arbitrator, Shri P. N. Lahiry, appointed under Clause (b) of Sub-section (1) of Section 19 of the Defence of India Act (XXXV of 1939) read with Sub-section (4) of Section 1 of the said Act and with the relevant Government of India, Defence Department Notification No. 1365 Order Rule 42 dated the 19th September, 1942.
(2.) A group of 52 cases were referred to at the instance of the appellant. Sailaja Kanta Mitra and others by Special Land Acquisition Collector, Burdwan regarding the question of valuation as a basis for fair compensation to be determined by an Arbitrator, appointed under the Defence of India Act, 1939 in regard to lands acquired, situated in Mouza Kot;t Chandipur and others, P. S. Ausgram, District Burdwan. All those cases related to the same category of lands, viz., paddy lands, that were requisitioned for a Military purpose viz., the installation of a Reserve Base at Panagar in September, 1943. Initially vast areas comprising not only Kota Chandipur but also several contiguous Mouzas were requisitioned. Portions were de-requisitioned subsequently. By a Notification, published in the Calcutta Gazette, dated 2nd May, 1946, an area of 768 acres approximately was finally acquired by the Bengal Government in exercise of the powers conferred by Rule 75-A of the D. I. Rules. By an amended Notification, dated 24-7-46 (Published in the Calcutta Gazette of 18-7-46) the Central Government became substituted for the Bengal Government as the acquiring authority. The lands involved in all these cases are comprised in the area of 768 acres. Since requisition of the lands in dispute was in September, 1943 crop compensation was paid to the respective owners on a diminishing scale for a period of three years preceding the final acquisition- The rates per annum per acre were Rs. 174/- in 1950 B.S. (1943-44), Rs. 144/- in 1351 B.S. (1944-45) and Rs. 98/- in 1352 B. S. (1945-46). After the final acquisition in 1946, the Collector offered compensation to the claimants before the Arbitrator at the rate of Rs. 300/- per acre. This assessment was made in 1950 and it purported to proceed on the basis of the market value which obtained in September 1943 i.e., the date of initial requisition. The 1943 basis was adopted on the authority of Section 19 of the D. I. Act, as amended by Ordinance XLV of 1945. The Government offer of Rs. 300/- per acre on the 1943 basis was not acceptable to the referring claimants. They filed applications before the Collector soliciting a reference to the Arbitrator. The contention of the referring claimants was that the assessment of compensation should have been made on the basis of the market value prevailing at the date of acquisition in 1946 and the amounts of crop compensation paid for the lands upto 1352 B. S. (1945-46) should have been taken into consideration for the purpose. According to the referring claimants the proper compensation of the lands could not be less than Rs. 930/-per acre. The references were received by the Arbitrator in August, 1951. Thereafter the referring claimants filed statements of claim under Section 19(1) (d) of the D. I. Act demanding fair amount of compensation at the rate of Rs. 2,690/-per acre. They have also claimed an additional allowance of 15 per cent and interest at 6 per cent per annum from 2-5-46. It was alleged by the referring claimants that through inadvertence the rate per bigha was noted as the rate per acre in the petitions filed before the Collector.
(3.) In their written statements filed in all the cases, Government adhered to their original position viz., Rs. 300/-per acre as representing the fair compensation.;
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