P.N.Mookerjee, J. -
(1.) This appeal arises under the following circumstances: On March 12, 1942, the appellants premises No. 20, Dum Dum Road was requisitioned under the Defence of India Act (Rule 76) on and from March 16, 1942. On June 10, 1943, there was a further order of requisition in respect of the same premises with effect from June 11, 1943, and the monthly compensation for the above requisition or requisitions was fixed at Rs. 1,765/-. On November 12, 1946, the above property was derequisitioned. This was followed by a claim for terminal compensation, made by the appellant, in respect of damages, done to the above property by the Requisitioning Authority during the above period of requisition. The appellants' figure for the said claim was Rs. 4,37,106/-. The State's offer on the point was Rs. 44,355/-. The above claim was made on April 1, 1947, and the same was reiterated on March 23, 1954, As, however, the State did not agree to the appellants' above figure, there was the inevitable reference to arbitration. In September, 1957, the above property was acquired by the State Government under the Defence of India Act, read with Land Acquisition Act. Before this acquisition, however, an Arbitrator had already been appointed on June 19, 1957 in regard to the appellants' claim for terminal compensation and the reference was before him for determination of the appellants' said claim.
(2.) Eventually, the learned Arbitrator dismissed the appellants' claim by his judgment, dated March 11, 1961, on the preliminary ground that, as the property in question had already been acquired by the State, as aforesaid, the appellants were not entitled to get any terminal compensation, as claimed by them. Against this order, which, in substance, was a "nil" award in favour of the appellants, the present appeal was filed by them on June 19, 1961.
(3.) At the hearing of this appeal, a preliminary objection was taken on behalf of the State, which was the Requisitioning Authority, and, against whom, the claim for terminal compensation was made, on the ground that the instant appeal would not be maintainable as it is directed against a "nil" award and, as such, would be barred by the proviso to Rule 19 of the Defence of India Rules, regarding arbitration for settlement of compensation, payable under Section 19 of the Defence of India Act, 1939. Rule 19, including the above proviso, reads as follows:
"19. Any appeal against the award of the Arbitrator shall be preferred within six weeks of the receipt by the parties of the notice referred to in Rule 17: Provided that no appeal shall lie against an award made under these rules where the amount of compensation awarded does not exceed Rs. 5,000/- in lump or Rs. 250/- per mensem," Admittedly, in the instant case, the appellants' claim for terminal compensation was refused by the learned Arbitrator, though on the preliminary ground of non-maintainability of such claim. That, however, would not really alter the position and it must be treated as a case of "nil" award for purposes of the above proviso. Upon that view, the instant appeal would not be maintainable and it must be dismissed on the said preliminary ground of incompetency under the law.;