Pattanaik, J. -
(1.)These appeals are directed against the judgment of Andhra Pradesh High Court in Letters Patent Appeals Nos. 351 and 352 of 1989. The land in question measuring 3.42 acres was acquired for construction of houses for Tribals and Harijans by issuance of notification under S. 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, published on 9-6-1976. A second Notification was issued under said S. 4 to acquire an extent of 1.06 acres by publication of Notification dated 27-12-1976. The Land Acquisition Officer determined the market value of the acquired land @ Rs. 11,000/- per acre by his award 31-2-1977. Before the Land Acquisition Officer, the land owners had claimed compensation @ Rs. 25,000/- to Rs. 30,000/- per acre. On a reference being made under S. 18 of the Act, the Civil Court determined the market value of the acquired land at Rs. 75,000/- per acre, but granted compensation @ Rs. 30,000/- per acre in view of S. 25 of the Act, as it stood prior to its amendment in the year 1984 and as the owners had claimed @ Rs. 30,000/- per acre. On appeal being carried, the learned single Judge also came to the conclusion that the market value of the land would be Rs. 75,000/- per acre, but did not enhance the compensation in view of the unamended provisions of S. 25 of the Act and in view of the fact that the owners had claimed only Rs. 30,000/- per acre before the Land Acquisition Officer. The matter being carried to the Division Bench in Letters Patent Appeal, the Division Bench came to the conclusion that S. 25 being procedural in nature and the amendment having been made while the appeal was pending, the amended provisions of S. 25 of the Land Acquisition Act would apply and since under the amended provisions, there is no bar for awarding compensation more than the amount claimed by the claimants and the only embargo being that the amount shall not be awarded less than the amount awarded by the Collector under S. 11, the Court would be justified in enhancing the compensation if the market value is determined at a higher rate. On the question of determination of market value, the Division Bench, taking into consideration Exhibits B-3, B-4 and B-7, came to hold that the market value of the acquired land would be Rs. one lakh per acre. The appeals having been allowed with aforesaid conclusions, the State is in appeal before this Court.
(2.)Mr. Guntur Prabhakar, the learned counsel appearing for the appellant contended that the Division Bench of the High Court committed serious error in holding that S. 25 is procedural in nature and thereby applying the amended provisions of S. 25 of the Act. According to him, the provisions of S. 25 mandates the parameters within which the Court is required to determine the amount of compensation and the act of awarding of compensation or curtailing, restricting or adding to such right can never be held to be procedural in nature. According to the learned counsel the language itself reveals that it is substantive in nature and it has been so held by this Court in the case of Krishi Utpadan Mandi Samiti vs. Kanhaiya Lal and others, Vol. (2000) 7 SCc 756. That being the position, the substantive right of the party would be governed by the unamended provisions of S. 25 of the Act. Consequently, it is urged that the claimants having claimed only Rs. 30,000/- per acre, the Court will not be entitled to grant compensation beyond the amount claimed. According to Mr. Prabhakar, the Division Bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court committed serious error of law, which has vitiated the ultimate conclusion.
(3.)Mr. P. P. Rao, the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the claimants-respondents on the other hand contended that the lawyer for the claimants without any authority from the claimants, made the application, even before the notice had been served on the claimants and in such an application, mentioned the claim at the rate of Rs. 30,000/- per acre and such a claim cannot be held to be a claim made by the claimants, within the ambit of the unamended provisions of S. 25(1) of the Act. Mr. Rao further contended that the very fact, the Parliament amended S. 25 of the Act and took away the earlier embargo with regard to the quantum of compensation, limiting the same to the amount claimed by the claimants is indicative of the legislative intent. That being the position and the Court having determined the market value of the acquired land at Rs. one lakh per acre, there is no justification to deny that amount to the claimants, since under Art. 31 of the Constitution, no person can be deprived of his property, save by the authority of law. Mr. Rao further submitted that the unamended provisions of S. 25 is ultra vires and such a prayer has been made in the writ petition filed by the claimants under Art. 32 of the Constitution. Mr. Rao lastly submitted that in the peculiar facts of this case, even if this Court may declare the law and point out the error in the Division Bench judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, yet ends of justice would not require interference with the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court in exercise of powers under Article 136 of the Constitution. In support of this contention, reliance was placed on the decision of this Court in Tahera Khatoon vs. Salambin Mohammad, (1999) 2 SCC 635.