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Friday, August 23, 2013

Condonation of Delay does not arise under sec.28 A of Land acquisition act = whether limitation for filing the application for re-determination of the compensation under Section 28A of the Act would commence from the date of the award or from the date of knowledge of the court’s award on the basis of which such application is being filed. 6. Though, there is nothing on record to substantiate the appellants’ claim that they could acquire the knowledge of the Court’s award only on 17.7.2006 and immediately took steps to file application for re-determination under Section 28A of the Act. 7. The issue involved herein is no more res-integra. The appellants’ case before the High Court as well as before us has been that the limitation would commence from the date of acquisition of knowledge and not from the date of award. = For the purpose of filing application under Section 28A of the Act, counsel for the appellants applied for a certified copy of the Court award on 17.5.2006, and though the copy of the said award was ready for delivery on 29.5.2006, it was obtained by learned counsel for the appellants only on 3.6.2006. Application for re-determination of the amount of compensation was filed on 18.7.2006 by the appellants, on the basis of the said Court’s award. D. The Special Land Acquisition Collector vide order dated 22.9.2008, rejected the said application on the ground that the same was filed with a delay of 4 days.= The legal maxim “dura lex sed lex” which means “the law is hard but it is the law”, stands attracted in such a situation. It has consistently been held that, “inconvenience is not” a decisive factor to be considered while interpreting a statute. “A result flowing from a statutory provision is never an evil. A Court has no power to ignore that provision to relieve what it considers a distress resulting from its operation.” (See : The Martin Burn Ltd. v. The Corporation of Calcutta, AIR 1966 SC 529; and Rohitas Kumar & Ors. v. Om Prakash Sharma & Ors., AIR 2013 SC 30) In view of the above, we are of the candid view that none of the submissions advanced on behalf of the appellants is tenable. 14. As the matters are squarely covered by the above referred to judgments, these appeals are devoid of any merit. The cases do not warrant any interference. The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.

published in   http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40681
REPORTABLE
                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                    CIVIL APPEAL NOs. 6976-6980  of 2013




      Popat Bahiru Govardhane Etc.
      …Appellants




                                   Versus




      Special Land Acquisition Officer & Anr.
      …Respondents




                               J U D G M E N T




      Dr. B. S. CHAUHAN, J.




      1.    These appeals have been preferred against the judgment and order
      dated 25.1.2012 passed by the High Court of Judicature  at  Bombay  in
      Writ Petition Nos. 2140-44 of 2009, wherein the High Court has  upheld
      the  judgment  of  the  Land  Acquisition  Collector   rejecting   the
      application under Section  28A  of  the  Land  Acquisition  Act,  1894
      (hereinafter referred to as `the Act’) on the ground of limitation.

      2.    Facts and circumstances giving rise to these appeals are that:

      A.    The land of the appellants stood notified under Sections 4 and 6
      of the Act in 1994-95.  Award in respect of the  said  land  was  also
      made on 14.12.1995.

      B.    Appellants did not file applications under Section 18 of the Act
      rather some other “interested persons” whose land was also covered  by
      the same notification under Section 4 of the Act filed references  and
      one such reference, i.e.  L.A.R.  No.  314  of  1999  was  decided  on
      3.4.2006.

      C.    For the purpose of filing application under Section 28A  of  the
      Act, counsel for the appellants applied for a certified  copy  of  the
      Court award on 17.5.2006, and though the copy of the  said  award  was
      ready for delivery on 29.5.2006, it was obtained  by  learned  counsel
      for the appellants only on 3.6.2006. Application for  re-determination
      of  the  amount  of  compensation  was  filed  on  18.7.2006  by   the
      appellants, on the basis of the said Court’s award.

      D.     The  Special  Land  Acquisition  Collector  vide  order   dated
      22.9.2008, rejected the said application on the ground that  the  same
      was filed with a delay of 4 days.

      E.    Aggrieved, the appellants challenged the said order  before  the
      High Court.  The same stood dismissed vide impugned judgment and order
      dated 25.1.2012.

            Hence, these appeals.

      3.    Shri Gaurav Agarwal, learned counsel appearing on behalf of  the
      appellants  has submitted  that Section 28-A of the Act  was  inserted
      by amendment in 1987 and being a beneficial legislation it should   be
      interpreted liberally and period of limitation  should  be  considered
      and determined on all equitable grounds.  It  is  well-neigh  possible
      for any person to file an  appeal  without  having  knowledge  of  the
      order/award and therefore, the limitation should be counted  from  the
      date of acquisition of knowledge of the  Court  award.  More  so,  the
      delay was only of two days and certainly not of four days. In order to
      fortify his case Shri Gaurav Agarwal  has  placed  reliance  upon  the
      judgments of this Court in Bhagwan Das & Ors. v. State of U.P. & Ors.,
      AIR 2010 SC 1532; and Premji Nathu v. State of  Gujarat  &  Anr.,  AIR
      2012 SC 1624.

      4.    Ms. Madhavi Divan, learned counsel appearing on  behalf  of  the
      respondents,  has  opposed  the  appeal   contending   that   personal
      inconvenience or hardship of an individual cannot be  a  consideration
      for interpreting statutory provisions in  case  the  language  of  the
      statute is plain and unambiguous.  It  is  to  be  given  only  strict
      literal interpretation.  In the instant case, there is no ambiguity so
      far as the statutory provisions are concerned.  Therefore,  limitation
      is to be taken as prescribed under the statute.   In  support  of  her
      case Ms. Madhavi Divan has placed reliance upon the judgments of  this
      Court in Tota Ram v. State of U.P. & Ors., (1997) 6 SCC 280; Union  of
      India & Ors. etc. v. Mangatu Ram etc., AIR 1997 SC 2704; State of A.P.
      & Anr. v. Marri Venkaiah & Ors., AIR 2003 SC 2949; Des  Raj  (deceased
      by L.Rs.) & Anr. v. Union of India & Anr., AIR 2004 SC 5003; and State
      of Orissa & Ors. v. Chitrasen Bhoi, (2009) 17 SCC 74.

      5.    We have considered the rival submissions made by learned counsel
      for the parties and perused the records.

           The sole question for the consideration of the court is
whether
      limitation for filing the  application  for  re-determination  of  the
      compensation under Section 28A of the Act would commence from the date
      of the award or from the date of knowledge of the court’s award on the basis of which such application is being filed.

      6.     Though,  there  is  nothing  on  record  to  substantiate   the
      appellants’ claim that they could acquire the knowledge of the Court’s
      award only on 17.7.2006 and immediately took steps to file application
      for re-determination under Section 28A of the Act.

      7.     The  issue  involved  herein  is  no  more  res-integra.    
The appellants’  case before the High Court as well as before us has  been that the limitation would commence from the  date  of  acquisition  of knowledge and not from the date of award. 
Though, Shri Gaurav Agarwal,
      learned counsel for the appellants, has fairly conceded that there  is
      no occasion  for  this  Court  to  consider  the  application  of  the
      provisions of the Limitation Act, 1963 (hereinafter  called  the  ‘Act
      1963’) inasmuch as the provisions of Section 5 of the said Act.

      8.    Section 28A of the Act reads as under:

           “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.”
                                              (Emphasis added)


      9.    In Raja Harish Chandra Raj  Singh  v.  Deputy  Land  Acquisition
      Officer & Anr., AIR 1961 SC 1500, this Court dealt with the  issue  of
      limitation while dealing with an application under Section 18  of  the
      Act, and it was observed therein that unless a party had knowledge  of
      the  order,  the  question  of  approaching  the   appropriate   forum
      challenging the order, does not arise. Therefore, it is  the  date  of
      the knowledge  from  which  the  limitation  would  start.  The  Court
      observed :
           “.....The knowledge of the party affected by the  award,  either
           actual  or  constructive,  being  an  essential  requirement  of
           fairplay and natural justice the  expression…….In  our  opinion,
           therefore, it would be unreasonable……..where  the  rights  of  a
           person are affected by any order and  limitation  is  prescribed
           for the enforcement  of  the  remedy  by  the  person  aggrieved
           against the said order by reference to the making  of  the  said
           order, the making of  the  order  must  mean  either  actual  or
           constructive communication  of  the  said  order  to  the  party
           concerned…”



      10.   This Court in Union of India  &  Ors.  v.  Mangatu  Ram  &  Ors.
      (supra); and Tota Ram v. State of U.P. & Ors.  (supra), dealt with the
      issue involved herein and held that as the Land Acquisition  Collector
      is not a court and acts as a quasi judicial authority while making the
      award, the provisions of the Act 1963 would not apply and,  therefore,
      the application under Section 28A of the Act, has to be  filed  within
      the period of limitation as prescribed under Section 28A of  the  Act.
      The said provisions require that an application  for  re-determination
      is to be filed within 3 months from the  date  of  the  award  of  the
      court. The proviso further provides that the period of  limitation  is
      to be calculated excluding the date on which the award is made and the
      time requisite for obtaining the copy of the award.

      11.   In State of A.P. & Anr. v. Marri Venkaiah & Ors.  (Supra),  this
      Court reconsidered the aforesaid judgments including the  judgment  in
      Raja Harish Chandra Raj  Singh  (supra)  and  held  that  the  statute
      provides limitation of 3 months from the date of award  by  the  court
      excluding the time required for obtaining the copy from  the  date  of
      award.  It has no relevance so far  as  the  date  of  acquisition  of
      knowledge by the applicant is  concerned.   In  view  of  the  express
      language of the statute, the question of knowledge did not arise  and,
      therefore, the plea of the applicants  that  limitation  of  3  months
      would begin from the date of knowledge, was clearly unsustainable  and
      could not be accepted.  The Court also rejected the contention of  the
      applicants that a beneficial legislation should  be  given  a  liberal
      interpretation observing that whosoever wants to take advantage of the
      beneficial legislation has to be vigilant and has to take  appropriate
      action within  time  limit  prescribed  under  the  statute.  Such  an
      applicant must at least be vigilant in  making  efforts  to  find  out
      whether the other land owners have filed any reference application and
      if so, what is the result thereof.  If that is not done then  the  law
      cannot help him.   The ratio of the judgment in  Raja  Harish  Chandra
      Raj Singh (supra) was held to be non-applicable in case of Section 28-
      A of the Act.  The Court observed:

           “…….In that case, the Court interpreted the proviso  to  Section
           18 of the Act and held that clause (a) of the  proviso  was  not
           applicable in the  said  case  because  the  person  making  the
           application was not present or was not  represented  before  the
           Collector at the time when he made his  award.  The  Court  also
           held that notice from the Collector under Section 12(2) was also
           not issued, therefore, that part of clause (b)  of  the  proviso
           would not be applicable. The Court, therefore, referred  to  the
           second part of the proviso which provides that such  application
           can be made within six months from the date of  the  Collector’s
           award. In the context of the scheme of Section 18  of  the  Act,
           the Court held that the award by the Land Acquisition Officer is
           an offer of market price  by  the  State  for  purchase  of  the
           property. Hence,  for  the  said  offer,  knowledge,  actual  or
           constructive,  of  the  party  affected  by  the  award  was  an
           essential  requirement  of  fair  play  and   natural   justice.
           Therefore, the second part of the proviso  must  mean  the  date
           when either the award was communicated to the party or was known
           by him either actually or constructively.
                The  aforesaid  reasoning  would  not  be  applicable   for
           interpretation of Section 28-A because there is no  question  of
           issuing notice to such an applicant as he is not a party to  the
           reference proceeding before the court. The award passed  by  the
           court cannot be termed as an offer for market price for purchase
           of the land. There is no duty  cast  upon  the  court  to  issue
           notice to the landowners who have not initiated proceedings  for
           enhancement of compensation by  filing  reference  applications;
           maybe, that their lands are acquired by  a  common  notification
           issued under Section 4  of  the  Act.  As  against  this,  under
           Section 18 it is the duty  of  the  Collector  to  issue  notice
           either under Section 12(2) of the Act at the time of passing  of
           the award or in any  case  the  date  to  be  pronounced  before
           passing of the award and if this is not  done  then  the  period
           prescribed for filing application under Section 18 is six months
           from     the     date     of     the     Collector’s     award.”
           (Emphasis added)


      A similar view has been reiterated by this Court in  Des  Raj  (supra)
      and Chitrasen Bhoi (supra).

      12.   In view of above, there is no occasion for us  to  consider  the
      judgments cited at the bar on behalf of the appellants in  support  of
      its case. More so, the said judgments  have  been  delivered  by  this
      Court while dealing with the applications under Section 18 of the Act.
       If there are directly applicable precedents on the  issue,  the  same
      have to be followed rather than to search  for  a  new  interpretation
      unless  it  is  established  that  the   earlier   judgments   require
      reconsideration.  The suggestion of reconsideration  has  specifically
      been rejected by this Court in Marri Venkaiah (supra).

      13.   It is a settled legal proposition that  law  of  limitation  may
      harshly affect a particular party but it has to be  applied  with  all
      its rigour when the statute so prescribes. The Court has no  power  to
      extend the period of limitation on equitable grounds.   The  statutory
      provision may cause hardship or inconvenience to  a  particular  party
      but the Court has no choice but to enforce it giving  full  effect  to
      the same.  The legal maxim “dura lex sed lex” which means “the law  is
      hard but it is the law”, stands attracted in such a situation. It  has
      consistently been held that, “inconvenience is not” a decisive  factor
      to be considered while interpreting a statute.  “A result flowing from
      a statutory provision is never an evil. A Court has no power to ignore
      that provision to relieve what it considers a distress resulting  from
      its operation.”

       (See : The Martin Burn Ltd. v. The Corporation of Calcutta, AIR  1966
      SC 529; and Rohitas Kumar & Ors. v. Om Prakash Sharma & Ors., AIR 2013
      SC 30)

            In view of the above, we are of the candid view that none of the
      submissions advanced on behalf of the appellants is tenable.

      14.   As the matters are squarely covered by  the  above  referred  to
      judgments, these appeals are devoid of any merit.  The  cases  do  not
      warrant any interference. The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.




                                       ….………………..........J.            (DR.
                                       B.S. CHAUHAN)



      …...................................J.
                                              (S.A. BOBDE)

      NEW DELHI;

      August 22, 2013



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