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Sunday, February 7, 2016

If the land is otherwise comparable, merely because the witness was not factually correct on description, the evidence cannot be discarded.=whether the appellants are entitled for enhanced compensation in respect of their acquired land and covered by LAR 31/1990 on the file of Principal Sub Judge, Kottayam. The Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation of Rs.11,000/- per cent.=The High Court declined to consider A4 on two grounds (1) The original owner of the land (since deceased) when examined before the Reference Court was not truthful in the sense that according to him A4 land did not have road frontage, which no doubt is factually false. (2) He claimed costs for the retention wall on the riverside boundary, despite the fact that the same had been put up at Government expense. This conduct of the witness would only show that he was a greedy person at the worst. Obviously he made an attempt to claim more value than A4 deposing that A4 did not have road frontage and yet Rs.17,250/- was the centage value. But that is not a ground for discarding A4. If the land is otherwise comparable, merely because the witness was not factually correct on description, the evidence cannot be discarded. In fixing the land value, body language of the witness or his conduct in Court are all not really relevant. The fixation is mainly based on the factual position as revealed from the documents. Therefore, we are of the view that the appellants shall be entitled to land value for the acquired land fixed at Rs.17250/- per cent and they are also entitled for other statutory benefits in terms of the Land Acquisition Act 1894.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                           SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NOS.3610-3612 OF 2007
                 (Arising out of SLP(C) No.24535-37 of 2003)


K.S. SANJEEV (DEAD)BY LRS. ETC. ETC.         APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS

STATE OF KERALA AND ANR.                     RESPONDENTS


                                  WITH

                    CIVIL APPEAL NO.3613 OF 2007


                               J U D G M E N T


KURIAN,J.



            Abatement is set aside.
            Delay in filing substitution application is condoned.
            Application for substitution not opposed  and  is,  accordingly,
allowed.

1.    The short question  to  be  decided  is  whether  the  appellants  are
entitled for enhanced compensation in respect of  their  acquired  land  and
covered by LAR 31/1990 on the file of Principal  Sub  Judge,  Kottayam.  The
Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation of Rs.11,000/- per  cent.  The
Reference Court declined to grant any  enhancement  though,  the  appellants
relied on A4 and A14 documents. A4 land abutting M.C. Road is  in  Panchayat
area whereas the acquired land is in  the  Municipal  area,  Kottayam  town.
Both are in close proximity, it is not disputed. A14 is a letter  issued  to
the  Department  of  Telecommunications,   inter  alia,  stating  that   the
Department is not interested in the property  as  the  value  fixed  by  the
District Collector  is  Rs.27500/-.  It  seems  from  the  record  that  the
Department declined to respond to the aforesaid letter on  the  ground  that
the value of the land was very high.

2.     Be that as it may, before us, the learned counsel for the  appellants
has placed reliance only on A4 land. It is not in dispute that the  property
covered by A4 document was sold for Rs.189750/-  (Rs.17250/-  per  cent)  on
27.10.1986. The date of Section 4(1) Notification in the case before  us  is
03.02.1987. We see no justification as to why the said document  should  not
be taken into consideration for  fixing  the  land  value.  A4  land  is  in
Panchayat area whereas the acquired land is in  Municipal  area  and  it  is
also abutting the M.C. Road. Southern boundary of  the  property  is  river.
The claim was in fact for Rs. 75,000/- per cent.

3.    Mr. M.T. Goerge, learned  counsel  for  the  State  submits  that  the
acquired land is wet land. Records show that the acquired land  is  not  wet
land but reclaimed dried land, though lying below the road level, as can  be
seen from the finding of the High Court.

4.    The High Court  declined  to  consider  A4  on  two  grounds  (1)  The
original owner of  the  land  (since  deceased)  when  examined  before  the
Reference Court was not truthful in the sense that according to him A4  land
did not have road frontage, which  no  doubt  is  factually  false.  (2)  He
claimed costs for the retention wall on the riverside boundary, despite  the
fact that the same had been put up at Government expense.  This  conduct  of
the witness would only show that he  was  a  greedy  person  at  the  worst.
Obviously he made an attempt to claim more value than A4  deposing  that  A4
did not have road frontage and yet Rs.17,250/- was the  centage  value.  But
that  is  not  a  ground  for  discarding  A4.  If  the  land  is  otherwise
comparable,  merely  because  the  witness  was  not  factually  correct  on
description, the evidence cannot be discarded. In  fixing  the  land  value,
body language of the witness or his conduct in  Court  are  all  not  really
relevant. The fixation is mainly based on the factual position  as  revealed
from the documents.

5.    Therefore, we are of the view that the appellants  shall  be  entitled
to land value for the acquired land fixed at Rs.17250/- per  cent  and  they
are also entitled  for  other  statutory  benefits  in  terms  of  the  Land
Acquisition Act 1894.

6.    Appeals are allowed accordingly. No costs.

                                             ....................J.
                                             (KURIAN JOSEPH)


                                        .....................J.
                                          (ROHINTON FALI NARIMAN)

NEW DELHI
JANUARY 7, 2016

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