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Thursday, March 23, 2017

When the lands are acquired at the same time and for the same purpose that is for resettlement of Dal dwellers, the lands situated in three different villages namely, Chandapora, Bhagichandpora and Pazwalpora, and since the land is similar land, it would be unfair to discriminate between the land owners and other references and the appellants who are the land owners in Reference No.15 and pay less that is Rs.2,50,000/- per Kanal to the appellants and pay more to other land owners that is Rs.4,00,000/- per Kanal. Impugned judgments of the High Court in CIA No. 211/2009 and Cross Appeal No. 64/2011 are to be set aside by enhancing the compensation to Rs.4,00,000 per Kanal. As a sequel to this, the order passed in review is also to be set aside.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                    CIVIL APPEAL NOS.  4295-4297 OF 2017
                (Arising out of SLP(C) Nos.3726-3728 of 2016)

ALI  MOHAMMAD BEIGH AND ORS.                              …Appellants

                                   Versus
STATE                OF                J                 &                 K
...Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

R. BANUMATHI, J.


      Leave granted.

2.    These appeals arise  out  of  the  common  judgment  and  order  dated
24.09.2013 and 15.05.2015 passed by the High Court of Jammu and  Kashmir  at
Srinagar dismissing CIA No.211 of 2009 along  with  Cross  Appeal  No.64  of
2011 and Review Petition Civil   No. 07 of 2013 affirming  the  compensation
of Rs.2,50,000/- per Kanal  awarded  to  the  appellants  by  the  Reference
Court.

3.    Brief facts which led to filing  of  these  appeals  are  as  follows:
Notification dated  16.06.1997  was  issued  by  the  Collector,  Lakes  and
Waterways Development  Authority  (LAWDA),  Srinagar  vide             No.C-
LDA/452-64, under Section 4(1) of the Jammu  and  Kashmir  Land  Acquisition
Act for the acquisition of land measuring 505 Kanal 06  Marlas  situated  at
Chandapora,  Tehsil  and  District  Srinagar,  for  the   construction   and
development of housing colony for the resettlement  of  dislocated  families
of the Dal dwellers.  On  01.06.1999,  a  Final  Award  was  passed  by  the
Collector, LAWDA, Srinagar under the Jammu and Kashmir Land Acquisition  Act
vide No. G-LDA 293-98 in respect of  land  measuring  505  Kanal  06  Marlas
situated at Chandapora, Tehsil and District Srinagar. The  Land  Acquisition
Officer assessed the compensation amount payable  to  the  applicants/estate
holders at the rate of Rs.1,50,000/- per Kanal Abi-Bagh,  Rs.1,40,000/-  per
Kanal for Abi-Awal and  Rs.1,30,000/-   for  Gair-Mumkin.    On  01.06.1999,
Collector passed the Final Award fixing compensation rates:  (i)  Abi-Bagh  ?
irrigated  Orchard  land  (Rs.1.50  lacs  per   Kanal);   (ii)   Abi-Awal   ?
agricultural land (Rs.1.40 lacs per Kanal); and (iii) Gair-Mumkin  ?   Barren
land (Rs.1.30 lacs per Kanal).

4.    Being aggrieved by the compensation awarded by the  Collector,  LAWDA,
Srinagar, the appellants sought reference to  the  District  Judge/Reference
Court to establish their claims for enhanced  compensation.   The  Reference
Court vide judgment dated 31.10.2008 held that the appellants  are  entitled
to  get  compensation  of  Rs.2,50,000/-  per   Kanal   and   also   awarded
compensation to the tune of Rs.10,000/- per Kanal on account of fencing.

5.    Feeling aggrieved by the compensation awarded by the Reference  Court,
State filed appeal CIA No.211 of 2009.  Claimants have  filed  Cross  Appeal
bearing No.64 of 2011, seeking enhancement of compensation to  Rs.4,00,000/-
per Kanal.  The High Court dismissed the State’s appeal.  The  Cross  Appeal
filed by the appellants was also dismissed by the High  Court  holding  that
the appellants have not led any evidence which could  have  been  the  basis
for enhancing compensation to Rs.4,00,000/- per Kanal as has  been  done  in
other cases. The review petition filed by the appellants  also  came  to  be
dismissed.  Being aggrieved by the dismissal of their Cross Appeal  and  the
review, the appellants have filed these appeals.

6.    Learned counsel for the appellants  submitted  that  in  the  case  of
Reference No.5 of 2002 titled Shamim  Ahmed  Dar  and  Ors.  vs.  Collector,
LAWDA, the Reference Court granted compensation at the rate of Rs.4,00,000/-
 per Kanal for the acquired land situated in  the  same  village  Chandapora
where the acquired land of the appellants was also  situated  and  while  so
the Reference Court erred in not granting the  same  rate  of  compensation,
that is at the rate of Rs.4,00,000/- per Kanal to the  appellants.   Learned
counsel  further  contended  that  Reference  Court   was   not   right   in
discriminating the appellants by granting compensation to them only  at  the
rate of Rs.2,50,000/- per Kanal while in the case of  adjacent  land  owners
compensation has been fixed at the rate of Rs.4,00,000/- per Kanal.

7.    Per contra, learned counsel for the  respondent–State  submitted  that
the appellants have failed to adduce evidence to  justify  their  claim  qua
compensation to the tune of Rs.4,00,000/- granted to the  land  owners.   On
the contrary, it was submitted that the land owners in Reference No.5  whose
compensation has been enhanced to Rs.4,00,000/- have proved  their  case  by
adducing evidence in support of the  said  enhanced  compensation.   It  was
urged that the case of the  appellants  can  in  no  way  be  compared  with
Reference No.5 and other cases inasmuch  as  in  the  said  reference,  land
owners have clearly proved the rate at Rs.4,00,000/- per Kanal  as  per  the
market rate and the High Court rightly dismissed the  Cross  Appeal  of  the
appellants and the impugned judgment warrants no interference.

8.    We have carefully considered the rival contentions  and  also  perused
the impugned judgment and the materials on record.

9.    Admittedly, the land measuring 65 Kanal  ½  Marla  of  the  appellants
herein comprising of Khasra Nos. 115, 363/118, 179, 155, 197, 155, 90,  157,
100, 372/112, 102, 172,  173,  14  4  Min,  198,  148  and  194  covered  by
Reference No.15/2002 was acquired for the purpose  of  resettlement  of  Dal
dwellers  in the year 1997-1999.  In or  about  the  same  time,  the  lands
adjacent to the land of the appellants  in  Chandapora,  Bhagichandpora  and
Pazwalpora were also acquired for the same purpose of  resettlement  of  Dal
dwellers by various  references.    Comparative  table  of  the  details  of
acquisition of lands of the  appellants  and  the  other  land  acquired  in
Chandapora, Bhagichandpora and Pazwalpora is as under:

|Village    |S.4(1)     |S.6         |Final Award |Reference Court  |
|           |Notificatio|Declaration |            |Award            |
|           |n          |            |            |                 |
|Chandapora |10.01.1997 |02.06.1997  |01.06.1999  |Reference        |
|           |           |            |            |No.15/2002       |
|           |           |            |            |DOA 31.10.2008   |
|           |           |            |            |Reference        |
|           |           |            |            |No.5/2002        |
|           |           |            |            |DOA 03.11.2008   |
|Bhagi-Chand|24.06.1997 |05.07.1997  |01.06.1999  |Reference        |
|apora      |           |            |            |1/2003           |
|           |           |            |            |6/2002           |
|           |           |            |            |DOA 03.11.2009   |
|Pazwalpora |16.06.1997 |05.07.1997  |14.07.1999  |Reference        |
|           |           |            |            |No.7/2002        |
|           |           |            |            |DOA 03.11.2009   |


10.   Learned counsel for the appellants has  drawn  our  attention  towards
the fact that the villages of  Chandapora,  Bhagichandapora  and  Pazwalpora
are situated adjacent to each other and share a common border/boundary  with
each other. The inter se  distance  between  these  villages  is  not  much,
however, centre to centre distance between these villages is less than  half
a kilometre.  The learned counsel has also drawn our attention to  the  Site
Plan showing inter se location of  these  villages  and  the  land  acquired
there from by the Collector, LAWDA, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir in the  year
1999, for the public purpose of re-settlement of  Dal  dwellers,  which  was
obtained under the Right to Information Act, 2005 [RTI  Act].   In  response
to  the  information  sought  by  the  appellants   under   the   RTI   Act,
communication dated  08.12.2015  was  sent  stating  that  the  villages  of
Chandapora, Bhagichandpora and Pazwalpora  are  situated  adjacent  to  each
other and shared a common border/boundary with each other.   The  Site  Plan
showing the location of  the  villages  of  Chandapora,  Bhagichandpora  and
Pazwalporas also fortifies the information furnished that  the  above  three
villages  are  situated  adjacent  to  each  other  and   share   a   common
border/boundary with each other.

11.   In cases of acquisition of land in Bhagichandpora  and  Pazwalpora  in
Reference  Nos.1/2003,  6/2002  and  7/2002,  the  Reference  Court,   after
referring to the evidence adduced by the claimants thereon  and  also  after
referring to assessment of market rate by  Tehsildar  at  Rs.4,00,000/-  per
Kanal, held that the land  owners  are  entitled  to  compensation  for  the
acquired  land  at  the  rate  of  Rs.4,00,000/-  per  Kanal  with  solatium
(Jabirana) at the rate of 15% apart from interest @  6%  per  annum  on  the
enhanced compensation in excess to the sum awarded by the Collector, LAWDA.

12.   As noted earlier, village Chandapora is situated adjacent to  villages
Bhagichandpora and Pazwalpora;  while  so,  there  was  no  reason  why  the
Reference Court differentiated the land of  the  appellants-land  owners  of
the acquired land  in  Chandapora  land  Reference  No.15/2002  by  awarding
lesser compensation of Rs.2,50,000/-.  On a perusal of the judgment  of  the
Reference Court in Reference No.15 of 2002, it is seen  that  the  witnesses
were examined by the appellants to substantiate their case that  the  market
rate of  the  land  in  village  Chandapora  in  the  year  1998  was  about
Rs.8,00,000/- per Kanal.  Though  the  Tehsildar  of  the  area  recommended
Rs.2,50,000/- per Kanal, the witnesses have  stated  that  the  compensation
fixed by Tehsildar was not reliable and  not based  on  any  material.   The
appellants have also produced a sale deed by one Mr.  Bansilal  under  which
he sold a small strip of land measuring 1360 sq. feet  in  the  vicinity  of
the acquired land for an amount of Rs.1,00,000/-. But  the  Reference  Court
discarded the evidence of witness Bansilal on  the  ground  that  under  the
sale deed only a small area of land was sold and the  sale  deed  cannot  be
taken to be a representative character of the entire  land.   In  our  view,
the Reference Court was not right in discarding the  said  sale  deed  which
was supported by oral evidence  of  the  witnesses,  to  substantiate  their
claim that the market rate assessed by the Tehsildar  at  Rs.2,50,000/-  was
not a fair compensation.

13.   When the lands are more or less situated nearby and when the  acquired
lands are identical  and  similar  and  the  acquisition  is  for  the  same
purpose, it would not be proper to  discriminate  between  the  land  owners
unless there are strong reasons.  In Union of India vs. Bal Ram and  Another
(2010) 5 SCC 747, this Court held that if  the  purpose  of  acquisition  is
same and when the lands are identical and similar though lying in  different
villages, there is no justification to make any discrimination  between  the
land owners to pay more to some of the land owners and less compensation  to
others.  The same was the view taken in Union  of  India  vs.  Harinder  Pal
Singh and Others. (2005) 12 SCC 564, where this Court held as under:-
“15. We have carefully considered the submissions  made  on  behalf  of  the
respective parties and  we  see  no  justification  to  interfere  with  the
decision of the Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High  Court  which,
in our view, took a pragmatic approach in fixing the  market  value  of  the
lands forming  the  subject-matter  of  the  acquisition  proceedings  at  a
uniform rate. From the sketch plan of the area in question,  it  appears  to
us that  while  the  lands  in  question  are  situated  in  five  different
villages, they can be consolidated into  one  single  unit  with  little  to
choose between one stretch of land and another. The  entire  area  is  in  a
stage of development  and  the  different  villages  are  capable  of  being
developed in the same manner as the lands comprised in Kala Ghanu Pur  where
the market value of the acquired lands was fixed at a  uniform  rate  of  Rs
40,000 per acre. The Division Bench of the Punjab  and  Haryana  High  Court
discarded the belting  method  of  valuation  having  regard  to  the  local
circumstances and features and  no  cogent  ground  has  been  made  out  to
interfere with the same.

16. In our view, in the absence of any contemporaneous document, the  market
value of the acquired lands of Village Kala Ghanu Pur  which  were  acquired
at the same time as the lands in  the  other  five  villages  was  correctly
taken to be a comparative unit for determination of the market value of  the
lands comprising the lands forming the  subject-matter  of  the  acquisition
proceedings under consideration…….”

14.   When the lands are acquired at the same time and for the same  purpose
that is for resettlement of  Dal  dwellers,  the  lands  situated  in  three
different villages namely, Chandapora, Bhagichandpora  and  Pazwalpora,  and
since the land is similar land, it would be unfair to  discriminate  between
the land owners and other references and the appellants  who  are  the  land
owners in Reference No.15 and pay less that is Rs.2,50,000/-  per  Kanal  to
the appellants and pay more to other land owners that is  Rs.4,00,000/-  per
Kanal.  Impugned judgments of the High Court in CIA No. 211/2009  and  Cross
Appeal No. 64/2011 are to be set aside  by  enhancing  the  compensation  to
Rs.4,00,000 per Kanal.  As a sequel to this, the order passed in  review  is
also to be set aside.

15.   In the result, the impugned judgments are set aside and these  appeals
are allowed.  It is held that the appellants are  at  par  with  other  land
owners whose lands were acquired in Bhagichandpora and Pazwalpora  in  other
references, and hence they are also entitled  to  enhanced  compensation  of
Rs.4,00,000/-  per  Kanal  with  15%  solatium  (Jabirana)  and  all   other
statutory benefits.  No costs.



                                                             …….…………...………J.
                                                   [KURIAN JOSEPH]


                                                               …………….……………J.
                                                   [R. BANUMATHI]
      New Delhi;
      March 21, 2017


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