Decided on January 31,2003



- (1.) CAN the Collector grant interest under S. 34 of the land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act') on the enhanced amount awarded on re-determination of compensation under S. 28a of the act, especially when the original award of the Collector is prior to the amendment of the Act No. 68 of 1984, is the main issue to be decided in this appeal.
(2.) BEFORE answering the question, I may consider the facts of the case. An extent of 10. 5923 hectares of land in Tikkodi village of koyilandy Taluk was acquired for the construction of Buffer storage godown of food Corporation of India (second respondent herein ). The above land was owned by several persons including the appellant. Possession was taken on 29. 6. 1978. Award No. 8 of 1978 was passed by the Land Acquisition Officer on 30. 12. 1978 assessing land value at the rate of Rs. 960-50 per cent uniformly to all claimants for the entire extent of land. Appellant/ claimant did not apply for reference under S. 18 of the Act. But, some of the adjacent land owners applied for reference under S. 18 and one of the reference is numbered as L. A. R. No. 388 of 1981. Civil Court in that case enhanced the land value at the rate of rs. 1,250/- per cent by award dated 28. 2. 1986. Appellant/claimant and some other neighbours whose properties were also acquired by the same notification for the same purpose and covered. by award No. 8 of 1978 applied for re-determination of compensation under S. 28a of the Act. The Collector accordingly redetermined the compensation. On the enhanced compensation, 30% solatium under S. 23 (2) of the act was also granted. But, no interest under S. 34 was granted on the enhanced compensation. Additional compensation under S. 23 (1a) was not claimed or granted. Reasons for denying interest is stated as follows: 'the Government in their letter No. 68066/81//92/80 dated 5. 5. 1993 received on 9. 11. 1993 has directed that S. 28a of L. A. Act does not stipulate payment of interest in cases even if the court allows interest on the similar cases which are taken on the basis for redetermination of compensation and hence there is no need to pay interest while passing the award redetermining compensation under S. 23a of the Land Acquisition Act. Therefore the award is prepared fixing the compensation excluding interest. " As far as the appellant in concerned, value was redetermined as follows: Common supplementary award No. 2 of 1994 was thus passed on 4. 3. 1994 under S. 28a of the Act with respect to lands acquired by the same award, wherever application under S. 28a was filed in time. Appellant and some of the claimants applied for reference under S. 28a (3) read with S. 18 of the Act with regard to the question of awarding interest. Reference court by common judgment in L. A. R. No. 67 of 1994 and other connected cases rejected the claim on the ground that appellants are not entitled to benefits granted by amendment Act No. 68 of 1984 and the Collector erroneously granted enhanced under S. 28a and granted solatium under S. 23 (2 ). What is granted by the Collector cannot be reduced in a reference; but applicants are not entitled to interest under S. 28 or 34 of the Act. Hence, reference application was dismissed by common judgment.
(3.) NOW, applicability of S. 28a and consequential matters are well settled by Apex Court judgments. In Babua Ram and Ors. v. State of u. P. and Anr. (1995 (2) SCC 689) and Union of India and Ors. v. Kamail Singh and Ors. ( (1995) 2 SCC 728), it was held that S. 28a as inserted by Act 68 of 1984 is prospective. But, right to file an application under S. 28a will accrue when an award under S. 26 is passed in respect of property covered by same notification. That is, if award of the reference court is passed after the date of amendment, that is, after 24. 9. 1984, S. 28a will apply. In other words, if the reference court passes the award under S. 26 before 24. 9. 1984, claimants cannot file an application under S. 28a but if the award of the reference court is after 24. 9. 1984, interested person can file an application under S. 28a within three months from the date of the award of the reference court under s. 26. However, in the decisions cited above, it was held that limitation to file application will stand from the first award of the civil court. That part of the ruling in the above mentioned judgments was overruled in Union of India and Anr. v. Pradeep Kumari and Ors. ( (1995) 2 SCC 736 ). In Union of India and Anr. v. Pradeep Kumari and Ors. ( (1995) 2 SCC 736 = AIR 1995 SC 2259), it was held that: "s. 28a is, therefore, in the nature of a beneficent provision intended to remove inequality and to give relief to the inarticulate and poor people who are not able to take advantage of right of reference to the civil Court under S. 18 of the Act. In relation to beneficent legislation, the law is well-settled that while construing the provisions of such a legislation the Court should adopt. a construction which advances the policy of the legislation to extend the benefit rather than a construction which has the effect of curtailing the benefit conferred by it. The provisions of S. 28a should, therefore, be construed keeping in view the object underlying the said provision. " Apex Court also held that if the following conditions are satisfied, S. 28a will be applicable. " (i) An award has been made by the court under Part iii after the coming into force of S. 28 A; (ii) By the said award the amount of compensation in excess of the amount awarded by the Collector under S. 11 has been allowed to the applicant in that reference; (iii) The person moving the application under S. 28a is interested in other land covered by the same notification under S. 4 (1) to which the said award relates; (iv) The person moving the application did not make an application to the Col lector under S. 18; (v) The application is moved within three months from the date of the award on the basis of which the redetermination of amount of compensation is sought; and (vi) Only one application can be moved, under S. 28 A for redetermination of compensation by an applicant. ";

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