Nelson Sailo, J. -
(1.) Heard Mr. C. Lalramzauva, the learned senior counsel assisted by Mr. A.R. Malhotra for the writ petitioners. Also heard Ms. Zairemsangpuii, the learned CGC appearing for the respondent Nos. 1 and 2 and Mrs. Linda L. Fambawl, the learned Government Advocate appearing for the respondent Nos. 3 to 6.
(2.) Since the facts of the case and the controversy involved was already taken into account by this Court on 10.10.2017, it would be gainful to abstract the relevant portion of the Order dated 10.10.2017 as below:-
"The petitioners are claiming payment of rental compensation for occupation of their lands by the Armed Forces for the period from January 1987 to August 2008, which is to be paid by the Defence Ministry, Government of India.
3. The petitioners case in brief is that their lands had been forcibly occupied by the Armed Forces without payment of rent. Accordingly, the petitioners filed WP(C) No. 67/2010 praying for payment of rent for occupation of their lands from April 1966. WP(C) No. 67/2010 was disposed of vide Order dated 09.06.2011 as follows:-
"12. Since a consensus has been arrived at in between the parties to the proceedings for constitution of a Joint Verification Committee for the verification of the lands of the petitioners (in all the writ petitions) and consequent assessment and computation of the rental compensation, a direction is issued to the answering respondents (in all the writ petitions) to constitute a Joint Verification Committee with the following members:
(1) The Director (N.E.-II), Ministry of Home Affairs or his representative.
(2) Defence Estate Officer, Guwahati Circle, Ministry of Defence or his representative.
(3) Secretary to the Government of Mizoram, Department of Land Revenue and Settlement or his representative.
(4) Deputy Commissioner of the District concerned.
(5) The Commandant of the Army unit/Paramilitary Forces occupying the land or his representative, if any.
(6) The petitioners and their representative(s)".
13. The Joint Team so to be constituted shall verify the lands of the petitioners to be under the occupation of Army/Paramilitary Forces and shall furnish all details to appropriate authorities for assessment/computation of the rental compensation and payment thereto. The exercise of conducting joint spot verification shall be completed within a period of 6 (six) months from the date of the receipt of the copy of the judgment and order and 2 (two) months thereafter for computation/assessment of the rental compensation and payment of the same to the petitioners, if their lands are found in occupation of the Army and Paramilitary Forces by next 3 (three) months".
4. In pursuance to the Order dated 09.06.2011 passed in WP(C) No. 67/2010, a joint spot verification was conducted and a joint spot verification report dated 15.11.2011 was issued, wherein it stated as follows:- "A spot verification further revealed that the plots of lands belonging to the petitioners in WP(C) No. 67/2010 actually fell within the lands covered by the blue print sketch map". The joint spot verification report basically proved the fact that the petitioners' lands had been occupied by the Army from 1966 till it was dehired in the year 2008.
5. Consequent to the joint spot verification report dated 15.11.2011, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Aizawl submitted the assessment/computation of rental charges payable to the petitioners and the same was forwarded by the Additional Deputy Commissioner (G) to the Under Secretary to the Government of Mizoram, Revenue Department vide letter dated 27.04.2012. Thereafter, the respondent No. 4 requested the Deputy Commissioner's office to split the rental charges payable to the petitioners in three parts, as the rental charges for the period from 1966 till December 1986 was to be paid by the Home Ministry. The period from January 1987 till August 2008 was to be paid by the Ministry of Defence and the subsequent period from September 2008 to June 2011 was to be paid by the State Government.
6. The State Government was to pay the rental charges from September 2008 to June 2011 to the petitioners in view of the fact that, though the lands of the petitioners were dehired by the Army w.e.f. 09.09.2008, the State Government had not handed over possession of the vacant lands to the petitioners till July, 2011.
7. In view of the request made by the respondent No. 4 for splitting the rental charges into three parts, the Office of the Deputy Commissioner split the assessment of the rental compensation payable to the petitioners in three parts i.e., from April 1966 to December 1986, January 1987 to August 2008 and September 2008 to June 2011.
8. The assessment of rental compensation was sent to all the respondents for payment of rental charges to the petitioners. As no rental charges was forth-coming to the petitioners, the petitioners filed Contempt Case (C) No. 2/2014. During the proceedings of the contempt case, the Ministry of Home deposited the rental charges for the period from April 1966 to December 1986 with the State Government. The same was disbursed to the petitioners. Thereafter, the Ministry of Defence took the stand in the contempt proceedings that they had already made payment of rental charges to the State Government for the area which they had occupied, which was under the blue print sketch map and the non- disbursement of the rental charges to the petitioners was the liability of the State Government. They thus took the stand that no further payment was to be made by the Ministry of Defence as rental charges to the land holders including the petitioners.
9. Contempt Case (C) No. 2/2014 was thereafter disposed of vide Order dated 08.12.2015 as follows:-
"6. From the materials available on record, more particularly the "Joint Spot Verification Report" date 15/16.11.2011 it is apparent that there is no dispute as regard the entitlement of the petitioners to receive compensation on the aforesaid account. Dispute, if any, is pertaining to the question as to whether the amount of compensation already disbursed by the respondent Nos. 4 & 5 covers the claims of the petitioners herein or whether such amount is yet to be disbursed by the respondent Nos. 4 & 5 to the respondent Nos. 6, 7, 8, 10 & 11. It is quite natural that unless the amount is paid by the respondent Nos. 4 & 5 to the State authorities, they would not be able to disburse the same to the petitioners. On the other hand, the stand taken by the respondent Nos. 4 & 5 raises a bona fide dispute as regard to their further obligation to make payment in the matter. In my considered opinion, the aforesaid dispute has to be determined judicially by relying upon the documentary evidence on record which cannot be done in the instant contempt proceeding.
7. It is settled law that the Court in exercise of contempt jurisdiction cannot issue further direction nor can it take upon itself, the power to decide disputed questions of fact which ought to have been the subject matter of the original proceeding. Hence, the dispute raised by the respondents is clearly beyond the scope and ambit of this contempt proceeding. The dispute raised by the respondents would, however, give rise to a fresh cause of action for the petitioner to approach this Court seeking adequate relief.
8. In view of what has been mentioned above, it cannot be held that the present is a case of willful and/or deliberate violation of the direction passed by this Court, inasmuch as, there was no specific direction to the respondents to make payment of a particular amount to the petitioners by any particular respondent.
9. In view of the above, this contempt proceeding stand closed. It is, however, made clear that since there is no dispute regarding entitlement of the petitioners to receive rental compensation from the aforementioned respondents hence, the petitioners would be at liberty to institute a fresh proceeding for realization of the amount due and payable to them with such other consequential benefit as may be permissible under the law.
10. This petition stands disposed of accordingly".
10. The petitioners have thus filed the present writ petition stating that the joint verification report having clear established the fact that the petitioners lands were within the blue print area occupied by the Armed Forces, the Ministry of Defence had to pay the petitioners the rental charges for the period of occupation of their lands. The petitioner's counsel also submits that the Ministry of Home Affairs have paid rental charges for the period from April 1966 to December 1986. The State Government has also paid the petitioners the rental charges for the period from September 2008 to June 2011. Accordingly, the Ministry of Defence could not be allowed to wriggle out from their liability.
11. The learned CGC also submits that the Ministry of Defence is liable for payment of rent from September 1986 to 09.09.2008 only. Ms. Zairemsangpuii, learned CGC submits that though the lands of the petitioners fall within the occupied/blue print area occupied by the Armed Forces, there is a clear observation made in the joint verification report on behalf of the Union of India that the rent due for the entire area in Bawngkawn has already been paid by the Central Government to the State Government. She also submits that the Ministry of Defence has already paid the rent for the occupation of the private lands in Bawngkawn for the period from January 1987 to December 2007 to the State Government and rent for the period from 01.01.2008 to 09.09.2008 still remains to be paid.
12. The CGC submits that out of the 34.704 acres of land occupied by the Army at Bawngkawn, 6.991 acres was under private land holdings, while the balance 27.713 acres of land was Government land. The learned CGC thus submits that as rental charges has been paid on the land measuring 6.991 acres at Bawngkawn, no further rental charges can be paid by the Ministry of Defence, as it is not the case of the petitioners or the State respondents, that the private land holdings at Bawngkawn are beyond 6.991 acres.
13. The learned CGC also submits that as the payment of rent is sanctioned for the total area and not individual wise, the Ministry of Defence had made payment for the total area of private holdings covering an area of 6.991 acres by way of three payments, which are as under:-
14. Mrs. Linda L. Fambawl, counsel for the State respondents submits that the 1992-93 Board Proceedings recorded that the total area under the occupation of the Army (Blue Print) at Bawngkawn Brigade was 34.704 acres. That out of the total area, 27.713 acres of land was government free land and that an area of 6.991 acres belonged to private land owners, for which rent has to be paid. That a joint spot verification was conducted on 15.11.2011 and the Report showed that the lands of the present petitioners, with an area of 4067.5 sq m, fell within the Blue Print area. That although the DEO had stated that rent for private Land holdings in the Bawngkawn area was paid in three phases for the period of 1986 to 2007, with a total area 6.991 acres, amounting to Rs. 28,32,028/-, Rs. 50,72,217.69/- and 12,68,054.42 respectively, the actual payee receipt of the three phase payment and the record of the DEO did not tally. She submits that the APR of the three phase payment shows that there are 51 (fifty-one) beneficiaries in the Bawngkawn area who received rental compensation for an area of 304527.96 sq.ft. However, the names of the present petitioners were not included in the APR.
15. I have perused the Actual Pay Receipts (APR) with regard to the rental charges paid to the private land owners in respect of the lands occupied by the Army in Bawngkawn for the period from 01.09.1986 to 31.12.2007. The payment of rent has been given in three phases to the land owners. The petitioners names are not included in the APRs.
16. The joint verification report and the affidavit submitted by the Central Government and the State Government clearly point to the fact that the petitioners' lands are within the area occupied by the Armed Forces. The Ministry of Defence have been consistently taking the stand that they have paid rental charges area wise, for an area of 6.991 acres. However, the additional affidavit dated 07.04.2017 submitted by the State respondents is to the effect that the land of the present petitioners covers an area of 4067.5 sq. m. within the blue print area. The additional affidavit however does not clarify as to whether the land of the present petitioners, covering an area of 4067.5 sq. m., is included within the 6.991 acres of private holdings recorded earlier, or whether the said 4067.5 sq. m. is over and above the 6.991 acres. The APRs annexed to the additional affidavit filed by the State respondents on 07.04.2017 shows the area of the private land holders. However, the calculation is not in acres and in this regard, the State respondents will have to calculate the area of the private land holders as per the APRs mentioned in the additional affidavit dated 07.04.2017. The area of the private land holders as given in the APR will clarify whether the private land holdings come to 6.991 acres and whether the petitioners' lands are over and above the 6.991 acres.
17. In this regard, the learned Government Advocate submits that she will submit an additional affidavit clarifying the same within a period of two weeks. Accordingly, on the prayer of the learned Govt. Advocate, two weeks time is granted to allow the State respondents to file an additional affidavit.
18. List the matter after 2 (two) weeks."
(3.) Thereafter, the learned Government Advocate has filed an additional affidavit of the State respondents in terms of the Order dated 10.10.2017 on 28.02.2018. By the said affidavit, the State respondents have contended that the land of the petitioners are not included in the 6.991 acres of the private lands, as recorded by the Board proceedings on 1992 and 1993. However, the joint verification report dated 15.11.2011 indicates that their lands are within the Blue Print area i.e., the area occupied by the Army. The first APR for the period of 1986 to 1997 do not provide the details of land holdings but contains only the amount sanctioned and that the sanction was for an area of 6.991 acres. The second and third APR's contains the details of the land and the amount sanctioned and they are the same. Although there is a slight variation in the area of the land, the amount sanctioned and the disbursement tally with each other. Therefore, the variation of the area of the land is only negligible. It is further contended that an error apparently appeared in the report of the Board proceedings of 1992 to 1993, wherein the Government free land was indicated as 27.713 acres and that the lands of the petitioners were perhaps within this area. It was therefore, considered that the lands of the petitioners were within the Army occupied area but not within the 6.991 acres said to be the Army occupied area.;