PER G. B. PATTANAIK, J. : - -
(1.)In this bunch of cases, the provisions of Section 28 -A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act'), crop up for consideration. Two learned Judges of this Court, in course of hearing of Civil Appeal No. 9477 of 1994 (Union of India and Anr. v. Smt. Hansoli Devi and Ors.), formulated two questions to be answered by a Larger Bench. The said questions are:
"1.(a) Whether dismissal of an application seeking reference under Section 18 on the ground of delay amounts to "not filing an application" within the meaning of Section 28 -A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894?
(b) Whether a person whose application under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 is dismissed on the ground of delay or any other technical ground is entitled to maintain an application under Section 28 -A of the Land Acquisition Act.?
2. Whether a person who has received the compensation without protest pursuant to the award of the land acquisition collector and has not filed an application seeking reference under Section 18 is "a person aggrieved" within the meaning of Section 28 -A -
(2.)According to the learned judges, the three - Judge bench decision of this Court in Jose Antonio Cruz Dos R. Rodriguese and Anr. v. Land Acquisition Collector and Another1 requires reconsideration. At the outset, it may be stated that the constitution bench in Pradip Chandra Parija and Ors. v. Pramod Chandra Patnaik and Ors.2, held that judicial discipline and propriety demands that a bench of two learned judges should follow a decision of a bench of three learned judges. But if a bench of two learned judges concludes that an earlier judgment of three learned judges is so very incorrect that in no circumstances can it be followed, the proper course for it to adopt is, to refer the matter before it to a bench of three learned judges setting out the reasons why it could not agree with the earlier judgment and then the bench of three learned judges also comes to the conclusion that the earlier judgment of a bench of three learned judges is incorrect, then a reference could be made to a bench of five learned judges. In view of the aforesaid constitution bench decision, the very reference itself made by the two learned judges was improper and we would have sent the matters to a bench of three learned judges for consideration. But since the questions involved are pending in many cases in different High Courts and certain doubts have arisen with regard to the interpretation to the provisions of Section 28 -A of the Act, we thought it appropriate to answer the two questions referred. Section 28 -A of the Land Acquisition Act reads thus :
"28 -A. Redetermination of the amount of compensation on the basis of the award of the court - (1) Where in an award under this part, the court allows to the applicant any amount of compensation in excess of the amount awarded by the collector under Section 11, the persons interested in all the other land covered by the same notification under Section 4, sub -section (1) and who are also aggrieved by the award of the collector may, notwithstanding that they had not made an application to the collector under Section 18, by written application to the collector within three months from the date of the award of the court require that the amount of compensation payable to them may be redetermined on the basis of the amount of compensation awarded by the court :
Provided that in computing the period of three months within which an application to the collector shall be made under this sub -section, the day on which the award was pronounced and the time requisite for obtaining a copy of the award shall be excluded.
(2) The collector shall, on receipt of an application under sub -section (1), conduct an inquiry after giving notice to all the persons interested and giving them a reasonable opportunity of being heard, and make an award determining the amount of compensation payable to the applicants.
(3) Any person who has not accepted the award under sub -section (2) may, by written application to the collector, require that the matter be referred by the collector for the determination of the court and the provisions of Sections 18 to 28 shall, so far as may be, apply to such reference as they apply to a reference under Section 18.
(3.)The aforesaid provision was inserted by way of an amendment by Act 68 of 1984, which came into force w.e.f. 24.9.1984. Prior to the present reference in Jose Antonio Cruz Dos R. Rodriguese and Anr. v. Land Acquisition Collector and Anr.1 two learned judges of this Court had referred the following two questions for being answered by a larger bench of five Judges. The said questions being :
"1. Whether the award of the court, i.e. civil court made under Section 26 on reference under Section 18 would also include judgment and decree of the appellate court under Section 54?
2. Whether each successive award or judgment and decree (if answer on question No. 1 is positive) would give cause of action to file application under Section 28 -A; if so construed, does not such a construction violate the language used in Section 28 -A when Parliament advisedly did not use such expressions -