K. SESHACHALAM Vs. DISTRICT COLLECTOR, GUNTUR AND ANOTHER
HIGH COURT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
District Collector, Guntur And Another
Referred Judgements :-
SWAMINATHAN V. LATCHMANAN
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(1.)This is an application for the issue of a writ of mandamus directing the 1st respendent to make a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. The petitioner's land was acquired by the Government and the petitioner filed his objection on 27th April, 1947. An award under Section 11 was passed on 14th June, 1947. According to the terms of Section 12 (2) of the Land Acquisition Act, the Collector should give immediate notice of the award to such of the persons interested as were not present personally or by their representatives when the award was made. A notice appears to have been despatched on 11th July, 1947. In paragraph 5 of the counter-affidavit, it is admitted that the notice was returned unserved. The petitioner who had no knowledge of the award wrote to the Collector for information. He received intimation about the passing of the award by the communication of the Collector dated 31st March, 1951, in L. Dis. No. 5321 of 1951. He requested the Collector to make a reference under Section 18 of the Act but the Collector refused to make a reference on the ground that it was barred by limitation. The petitioner has consequently filed this writ for the issue of a mandamus.
(2.)The facts as disclosed in the affidavit clearly establish that the statutory notice required under Section 12 (2) of the Act was not served on the petitioner. It also appears that he had no knowledge till the receipt of the Collector's communication dated 31st March, 1951. So, the only question that has to be determined is, whether his claim for a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act is barred by limitation. The proviso to Section 18 (2) of the Act runs in the following terms :
"Provided that every such application shall be made :
(a) If the person making it was present or represented before the Collector at the time when he made his award, within six weeks from the date of the Collector's award;
(b) in other cases, within six weeks of the receipt of the notice from the Collector under Section 12, Sub-Section (2) or within six months from the date of the Collector's award whichever period shall first expire."
Clause (a) to the proviso does apply to the facts of the case. The first part of Clause (b) is also inapplicable as the notice under Section 12 (2) was served on the petitioner. The only point to be decided is, whether the petitioner is barred as he did file the application within six months from the date of the Collector's award. A literal reading of the second part of Clause (b) no doubt creates difficulty. It states that the application should be filed within six months from the date of the Collector's award. This clause has been construed by two learned Judges of the Madras High Court i.e., Krishnaswami Nayudu J., and Rajagopala Ayyangar J., as meaning within six months from the date of the knowledge of the passing of the Collector's award. The decision of Krishnaswami Nayudu J., on this point does not appear to have been reported, though it was published in the issue of the Indian Express, dated 5th August, 1951. Mr. Justice Rajagopala Ayyangar has elaborately discussed this question in Lakshmana Rao v. Revenue Divisional Officer, Ranipet. He followed three bench decisions of the Madras High Court dealing with three different Acts employing similar language. It was pointed out by Venkatasubba Rao J., in Swaminathan v. Latchmanan, ILR 53 Mad 491 at p 496 : (A.I.R. 1930 Madras 490 at p. 491,, that
"the very word 'order' by necessary implication means, in law, that the party affected has had reasonable notice of it."
Following those decisions, I hold that the reasonable construction to be put on the language of the section is to construe it as six months from the date of knowledge of the passing of the award. It is appropriate that the legislature makes the section clear in the light of these decisions.
(3.)Sri D. V. Reddi Pantulu, on behalf of the respondents contended that the petitioner must have made enquiries as to the passing of the award and that it is unlikely that he had no knowledge of the passing of the award for nearly four years. As there is nothing on record to show that he had any knowledge, I am not willing to accept his contention. The writ was filed after correspondence passed between the petitioner and the Collector. It seems to be an eminently a fit case for the issue of a writ of mandamus under Article 226 of the Constitution. I therefore issue a writ directing the Collector to make a reference to the proper Court under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. The writ is therefore allowed with costs. Advocate's fee Rs. 100.
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