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Wednesday, May 2, 2018

The question for our consideration relates to the interpretation of Section 87 of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Land Revenue Act, 1317 Fasli and the meaning of the expression ‘clerical error’. The further question is whether a ‘clerical error’ can be corrected “at any time” or only within a reasonable time.= In our opinion, the correction sought to be made by the respondents is not a ‘clerical error’ and so the further question really does not arise. However, the expression “at any time’ cannot be interpreted to stretch over a period of 25 years, as in the present case. = we hold that the entire Survey No. 1009 was acquired by the APHB for a Housing Scheme. No parcel of land in Survey No.1009 was left out or not acquired. Compensation was paid for acquisition of the entire Survey No.1009. The Division Bench of the High Court erred in concluding that 20.18 acres of land in Survey No.1009 had not been acquired.We also hold that the claim made by the respondents under Section 87 of the Act was hopelessly delayed for which there is absolutely no explanation forthcoming. In addition, we hold that since third party rights have been created in the meanwhile under the Housing Scheme of the APHB and there is no way to put the clock back. The respondents ought to have been vigilant in pursuing their claim, assuming the claim was legitimate, but since they were not vigilant enough, they must suffer the consequences of their inaction.

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REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 4632-4638 OF 2018
(Arising out of S.L.P. (C) Nos.21856-21862 OF 2010)
Telangana Housing Board ......Appellant
versus
Azamunnisa Begum (Died) Thru. Lrs. & Ors. ....Respondents
J U D G M E N T
Madan B. Lokur, J.
Leave granted.
1. The question for our consideration relates to the interpretation of
Section 87 of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana Area) Land Revenue Act,
1317 Fasli and the meaning of the expression ‘clerical error’. The further
question is whether a ‘clerical error’ can be corrected “at any time” or
only within a reasonable time.
2. In our opinion, the correction sought to be made by the respondents
is not a ‘clerical error’ and so the further question really does not arise.
However, the expression “at any time’ cannot be interpreted to stretch
over a period of 25 years, as in the present case. 
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Land Acquisition Proceedings
3. On 24th May, 1963 a notification was issued under the provisions
of Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (the Land Acquisition
Act). The entire acquisition was of a few thousand acres comprising of
dozens of survey numbers. Amongst others, the acquisition included
survey nos. 1009, 1043 to 1065 comprising of 1110.07 acres in
Kukatpally Village, Balanagar Mandal in Ranga Reddy District of
Andhra Pradesh. The entire acquisition was for the purpose of a Housing
Scheme of the Andhra Pradesh Housing Board (APHB) framed under
Section 22-A of the Andhra Pradesh Housing Board Act, 1956.
4. As is evident, the area was extremely large but it is recorded in
paragraph 4 of the Land Acquisition Award that:
“The lands under acquisition were got surveyed by the Measuring
Circle Inspector of this office and were got checked by the G.D.
Inspector of Hyderabad District, and areas of the lands under
Acquisition were approved by the Land Record Assistant. The
Areas as approved after survey and check are adopted in this
Award.”
5. As far as Survey No. 1009 is concerned an area of 661.04 acres
was sought to be acquired. The notification does not indicate that only a
part of Survey No. 1009 was sought to be acquired. There was no
indication that 661.04 acres of land is only a part of the entire extent of
Survey No.1009. In fact, as suggested in the Award, the entire Survey
No. 1009 along with the entire survey nos. 1043 to 1065 (along with
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several dozen other survey numbers) were sought to be acquired by the
said notification.
6. In paragraph 29 (b) of the Land Acquisition Award it is further
stated:
“The Special Deputy Collector Patancheru has informed vide his
Lr. No.B1/341/67 dated 6.8.67 that he has acquired 5 acres 21
guntas out of survey number 1009 measuring 666.25 acres of
Kukatpally village. The area tallies on the spot hence an area 5
acres 21 guntas is deleted from the area of survey no.1009 of
Kukatpally and award is being passed for the balance area of
661.64 acres out of survey number 1009.”
7. At this stage, we may mention that an area of 5.21 acres in Survey
No. 1009 was earlier acquired for the Manjeera Water Works Department
and hence 661.04 acres was sought to be acquired by the said notification.
8. The acquisition proceedings concluded without any objection
having been raised by the respondents who were admittedly owners of the
land. An Award was passed by the Special Deputy Collector, Land
Acquisition, Andhra Pradesh Housing Board, Hyderabad on 10th June,
1968 and Survey No. 1009 was described in the Award as “dry lands full
of rocks unfit for cultivation and no cultivation is being done.”
9. On 24th June, 1968 the APHB took possession of all the acquired
lands including entire survey nos. 1009 and 1043 to 1065.
10. Dissatisfied with the award of compensation, the respondents filed
a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. In the claim
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petition it was stated that survey nos. 1009 and 1043 to 1065 comprise of
1121.17 acres. However, compensation was awarded only for 1104.26
acres (5.21 acres relating to Manjeera Water Works Department was not
included in this calculation). Accordingly, it was stated that “11 acres
and odd, they being the property of the claimant, it is not acquired and
they remain to be the property of the claimant.” It is significant to note
that the 11 acres and odd which was sought to be excluded from the
acquisition proceedings by the respondents was not specified or identified
inasmuch as the survey number of this un-acquired area was not stated or
earmarked by the claimants. It is much later that the respondents came to
the conclusion that the allegedly un-acquired 11 acres and odd was a part
of Survey No. 1009.
11. Be that as it may, the compensation was enhanced and ultimately,
settled by this Court sometime in 1992. We are not concerned with the
details of the compensation proceedings any further but have mentioned it
only for the purpose of indicating that:
i) The entire area of survey nos. 1009 and 1043 to 1065 was
acquired. The acquisition consisted of huge areas and
physical measurements were carried out, surveyed, checked
and approved as per the revenue records.
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ii) Possession of the entire land was taken by the APHB for a
Housing Scheme.
iii) Although the respondents made a submission that 11 acres
and odd was not acquired, this area was not identified or
specified as being a part of any particular survey number or
even earmarked.
Proceedings relating to Section 87 of the A.P. (Telangana Area) Land
Revenue Act, 1317 F.
12. On 7th December, 1993 the respondents moved an application
under the provisions of Section 87 of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana
Area) Land Revenue Act, 1317 Fasli (for short the Act). In the
application, it was stated that as per the revenue record pertaining to
Survey No. 1009 the land area is actually 672.14 acres and it incorrectly
shows the area less by 11.10 acres. It was stated in the application that
this area of 11.10 acres was in possession of the respondents. It is for the
first time in 1993 that 11.10 acres was attributed to Survey No. 1009.
Section 87 of the Act reads as follows:-
“Settlement Officer to correct clerical and other errors
admitted by all parties and application for correction of name
to be made within two years:
The Director of Settlements and on making over the settlement
records to the Collector, the Collector may, at any time, correct or
cause to be corrected any clerical error or errors admitted by the
party concerned.
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The aforesaid officer shall hear all applications made within two
years after the introduction of the settlement, for the correction of
any wrong entry of a pattadar’s name in the register referred to in
the preceding section and if satisfied about the error whether such
error has been made through negligence, fraud, or collusion shall
correct the same, notwithstanding that the party concerned does
not admit the error but no such application shall be entertained
after two years, unless reasonable cause is shown to the said
officer for the delay, and in such cases if any error is proved it
shall not be corrected without obtaining the sanction of the
Government.”
13. Acting on the application, the District Collector requested the
Assistant Director, Survey and Land Records for a survey of Survey No.
1009 and to fix the boundaries. The Assistant Director issued notice to
the APHB on 7th July, 1994 for the purposes of carrying out the survey
but according to the APHB the notice was not received. In our opinion,
the non-receipt of the notice is hardly of any relevance.
14. In any event, the Assistant Director submitted a Report on 5th
August, 1994 to the District Collector. In his Report, it was concluded
that the area of Survey No. 1009 was actually 687.03 acres. This
comprised of 661.04 acres (subject matter of consideration before us) and
5.21 acres earlier acquired for Manjeera Water Works Department.
Therefore, according to the Assistant Director there was an excess of
20.18 acres that had not been acquired. It was also noted that IDL was in
possession of some extent of Survey No. 1009. No specification or
details were provided of the area and location of the land in possession of
IDL.
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15. It is also significant to note that while the respondents had been
contending that there was an excess of 11.10 acres that had not been
acquired, the Assistant Director came to the conclusion that 20.18 acres
had not been acquired.
16. At this stage, we may take a slight diversion and refer to a Circular
dated 15th October, 1994 issued by the Commissioner of Survey,
Settlements and Land Records. This Circular concerns itself with Section
87 of the Act it seeks to explain a ‘clerical error’ that could be rectified.
17. The relevant portions of the Circular dated 15th October, 1994 are
paragraphs 4 and 5 and they read as follows:-
“Clarification: There is no time limit for entertaining clerical
errors, and District: Revenue Officer is competent to entertain
clerical errors. The time limit is prescribed only for errors other
than clerical errors. For rectification of errors other than clerical
errors condonation of delay is required, for which District:
Revenue Officer alone is competent. However the District:
Revenue Officer is not competent to carryout correction other
than clerical errors without the approval of the Commissioner,
Survey, Settlement and Land Records.
Clarification: Section 87 of the Land Revenue Act 1317 Fasli
does not provide definition of clerical errors and errors other than
clerical errors. The clerical errors are minor errors which do not
involve alteration in area, change of classification, or change of
name of the pattedar.
A few examples of errors, which come under the category of
clerical errors, are furnished below:-
a. Name of the Pattedar misspelt.
b. Inter-change of survey numbers.
c. Survey no. missing in the survey map.
d. Area is calculated wrongly though measurement on
ground and records support the correct area.
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Since the definition of clerical error and errors other than clerical
errors is not there in the Act, it is not proper to leave it to the
judgment of Assistant Director Survey and Land Records
whether particular survey error falls under the category of clerical
error or errors other than clerical error. Therefore, the Assistant
Director, Survey and Land Records shall send detailed technical
report to Director, Survey Settlement and Land Records,
regarding proposed error. This is purely a technical and nonstatutory
function. The report so sent shall be examined at
Directorate whether the error falls under the category of clerical
error or error other than clerical error and the fact will be
communicated to Assistant Director Survey and Land Records.
On obtaining clearance from the Directorate, the Assistant
Director shall send the file to District Revenue Officer to dispose
of the case at District Revenue Officers level under Section 87 of
the Land Revenue Act, if the error is a clerical error. If the error
is other than clerical error, the District Revenue Officer, shall
send proposals to Commissioner Survey Settlement and Land
Records duly condoning the delay as per rules for disposal of the
case by Commissioner, Survey, Settlement and Land Records,
under Section 87-A of Land Revenue Act 1317 fasli.”
18. In response to the application made by the respondents under
Section 87 of the Act and the Report given by the Assistant Director on
5
th August, 1994, the Director of Settlements, Survey and Land Records
wrote to the District Collector on 19th April, 1995 acknowledging that
there is no record of any actual measurement of Survey No. 1009 since it
is a large tract of land. He also stated that variation in calculating the area
apparently in view of the rocky nature of the land could be between 10%
and 30%. The fact that all the survey numbers had been measured, as
mentioned in the Award, was lost sight of.
19. Nevertheless, the Director stated that the measurement exercise
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undertaken by the Assistant Director is technically correct and the area of
Survey No. 1009 is actually 687.03 acres while the recorded area is
666.25 acres (which includes the land acquired for Manjeera Water
Works Department). Therefore, according to the Director the variation is
to the extent of 20.18 acres. The Director also expressed the opinion that
the measurement error falls within the category of ‘clerical error’ as
mentioned in the Circular dated 15th October, 1994 and necessary
corrective action ought to be taken.
20. It is not clear how the APHB learnt of the Report of the Assistant
Director and its acceptance by the Director but in any event, on 10th June,
1996 objections were raised by the APHB before the District Collector to
the Report and the decision to correct the revenue records.
21. On receipt of the objections, the District Collector referred the case
to the Commissioner of Survey, Settlements and Land Records,
Hyderabad on 1st August, 1996 to consider rectification of the
measurement error.
22. On 15th September, 1997 the Commissioner directed the District
Revenue Officer to take action in terms of the Circular of 15th October,
1994 since there was a clerical error in terms of paragraph 5 of the
Circular. However, the Commissioner also directed that before passing
any orders under Section 87 of the Act the APHB should be heard.
23. It appears that the APHB was thereafter heard by the District
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Revenue Officer who then passed an order on 9th June, 1998 concluding
that in fact the area of Survey No. 1009 was 687.03 acres and that there
was an excess of 20.18 acres that had not been acquired. This was as
against the claim of the respondents that 11.10 acres had not been
acquired. The District Revenue Officer concluded that the APHB had no
right over the area of 20.18 acres and that necessary corrections in terms
of Section 87 of the Act should be made.
24. Feeling aggrieved by the order passed by the District Revenue
Officer which appears to have been accepted by the higher authorities the
APHB filed an appeal before the Commissioner (Appeals) under Section
158 of the Act. This Section reads as follows:
“Appeal from order of Revenue Officer- (1) Except as
otherwise provided in this Act for any other law for the time
being in force, an appeal shall lie against any decision or order
passed by a Revenue Officer under this Act or any other law for
the time being in force, to his immediate superior officer whether
such decision or order may have been passed in the exercise of
original jurisdiction or on appeal.
(2) Subject to the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh (Telangana
Area) Board of Revenue Regulation, 1358 F., (Regulation LX of
1358F.) an appeal shall lie to the Government from any decision
or order passed by a Collector or Settlement Commissioner
except in the case of any decision or order passed by such officer
on second or third appeal.
(3) and (4) xxx xxxxxx
25. On 24th March, 1999 the Commissioner (Appeals) passed an ex
parte order in the appeal filed by the APHB for maintaining status quo.
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26. It appears that in spite of the status quo order passed by the
Commissioner (Appeals) the revenue records were corrected by issuing a
Supplementary Sethwar. Be that as it may, the respondents challenged
the ex parte order dated 24th March, 1999 by filing a writ petition in the
Andhra Pradesh High Court on 5th April, 1999. The writ petition was
numbered as the W.P. No. 7940 of 1999. Among the grounds taken by
the respondents, in the writ petition, was that the appeal filed by the
APBH was beyond time and an ex parte order ought not to have been
passed by the Commissioner (Appeals).
27. On 10th August, 2000 the learned Single Judge hearing the writ
petition passed an interim order to earmark the land in possession of the
APHB and whether it is occupying 661.04 acres or more. In compliance
with the interim order, the Assistant Director gave a Report dated 23rd
June, 2001 to the effect that the area of Survey No. 1009 is 666.25 acres
including 5.21 acres with Manjeera Water Works Department. It is
important to note that the Assistant Director did not report that the area of
Survey No. 1009 was more than 666.25 acres. In other words, there was
a turn-around from the earlier decisions taken in this regard. It was
reported as follows:
“After fixing the boundaries as stated above the land available within
such boundaries surveyed with the help of theodolite (traverse
survey) and arrived the total area as Ac.666.25 gts. which is tallied
with the recorded area of survey no. 1009 as per survey records. The
survey work is concluded on 11.6.2001.
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The details of land showing physical features within survey no.1009
arrived after detailed survey are as under:-
1. Land under the possession of Housing Board Ac. Gts.
covered by built up area 288.00
2. Open land under possession of
Housing Board 358.04
3. Land left for Graveyard/Burial ground
by the Housing Board 15.00
______
661.04
4. Land under Manjeera Pipeline
(Water works Dept.) 5.21
 --------
 Total area of survey no. 1009 666.25
 ---------

A sketch of survey no. 1009 showing the above details is prepared
and submitted herewith.”
28. On 31st October, 2001 the learned Single Judge decided W.P. No.
7940 of 1999 and directed the Commissioner (Appeals) to hear the appeal
and pass appropriate orders. In the meanwhile, status quo was directed
to be maintained.
29. Pursuant to the directions given by the learned Single Judge, the
Commissioner (Appeals) heard the appeal filed by APHB. By an order
dated 4th January, 2003 the Commissioner (Appeals) upheld the view of
the District Revenue Officer dated 9th June, 1998 and dismissed the
appeal. The Commissioner (Appeals) was of opinion that:
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(i) Only 661.04 acres of land was acquired out of the larger area
in Survey No.1009;
(ii) The claim made by the respondents that 11.10 acres out of
Survey No.1009 was not acquired was not a belated claim;
(iii) The correction sought by the respondents in their claim
under Section 87 of the Act was the correction of a clerical
error under paragraph 5 (d) of the Circular dated 15th
October, 1994.
Proceedings before the learned Single Judge
30. Feeling aggrieved by the dismissal of its appeal by the
Commissioner (Appeals), a writ petition was filed by APHB in the
Andhra Pradesh High Court and that was numbered as W.P. No. 13927 of
2003.
31. A learned Single Judge of the High Court heard the writ petition
and by a judgment and order dated 19th April, 2005 allowed it and
quashed the order of the Commissioner (Appeals).
32. The learned Single Judge took the view that Section 87 of the Act
was not applicable to the case and as such the claim made by the
respondents was not maintainable. In addition, it was held that the claim
made by the respondents does not fall within the category of a ‘clerical
error’ and therefore the Circular dated 15th October, 1994 was also not
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applicable. The learned Single Judge made a reference to the failure of
the State and the respondents to produce the record prepared at the time
of survey which could have shown a wrong calculation of area. In this
regard it was held by the learned Single Judge as follows:
“Record prepared at the time of survey is not produced to show
that there is a wrong calculation of area, though the measurement
on ground and record support the correct area. So, entry
regarding extent of S.No.1009 cannot be said to have been made
wrongly due to a clerical mistake. By arriving at the area of a
particular survey number by conducting survey thereof only,
several decades after settlement, and without surveying the areas
in other survey numbers adjacent to that survey number, question
of the original entry in the settlement register was a wrong entry
as a clerical error or not cannot be determined. There is nothing
on record to show that lands in adjacent survey numbers of
S.No.1009 also were surveyed and as to what is the extent found
in such survey, and the extent noted in the settlement register.”
33. With regard to the contention that only 661.04 acres had been
acquired out of Survey No.1009, the learned Single Judge noted that a
declaration had been filed by and on behalf of the respondents under the
provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling of Agricultural
Holdings) Act, 1973. In that declaration there was nothing to suggest that
the respondents were holding excess land which would have been so had
the respondents been in possession of 11.10 acres. The learned Single
Judge observed as follows:-
“The contention of Mir Fazeelath Hussain Khan and his heirs that
since they are in actual physical possession of the land of
Acs.11=10gts in S. No. 1009, even after acquisition by the
petitioner, and so they can make a claim cannot be countenanced
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because by the time A.P. Land Reforms (Ceiling on Agricultural
Holdings) Act, 1973 (Act 1 of 1973) and the Urban Land
(Ceilings and Regulation) Act, 1976, came into force Mir
Fazeelath Hussain Khan, who originally filed the application
before the 3rd
 respondent, was alive, and had filed a declaration
under the Act 1 of 1973. He showed the total area covered by S.
Nos. 1009, 1043 to 1065 belonging to him as Acs.1109-92 gts.
That extent was deleted from his holding as it was acquired and
by the order dated 09-12-1976, vide common order in
C.C.Nos.156 to 159/W/75 he was held to be holding 0.4083
standard holding in excess even after deleting of an extent of
Acs.1109.92 gts in S. Nos. 1009, 1043 to 1065 of Kukatpally
village. If Mir Fazeelath Hussain Khan really was in possession
of or was owning any extent over and above the area acquired by
the petitioner either in S. No. 1009 or 1043 to 1065, he would
have had to surrender that area also, because even without that
area being included in his holding he was found to be holding
land in excess of the ceiling area.”
...........................................
“So, it is clear that the family of Raisyar Jung was said to be
holding only land to the extent of Acs.349-63 cents in S.No.1007
but not any land in S. No. 1009. This extent of Acs.11-10 gts now
said to be in the possession of unofficial respondents was not
declared by them or their predecessors in the declaration under
Act 1 of 1973. Had Fazeelath Hussain Khan, who filed the
petition before the District Revenue Officer, or any of the
unofficial respondents or their predecessors-in-title, been in
possession of any extent of land in S. No. 1009 by 01.01.1975
they would have shown it in their declaration filed under Act 1 of
1973. But they did not do so. For that reason also the contention
of the unofficial respondents that they are in possession of some
land in S. No. 1009 and that the extent of S. No. 1009 is more
than that was acquired by the petitioner cannot be believed or
accepted.”
34. The learned Single Judge also dealt with the submission on behalf
of the respondents that the APHB had no locus standi to question the
order passed by the Commissioner (Appeals). It was noted that the
APHB was a party to the proceedings before the Commissioner (Appeals)
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and therefore it was entitled to question the adverse order. Moreover,
when the authorities assume jurisdiction which they do not possess under
Section 87 of the Act and pass orders likely to affect the interests of the
APHB, a right accrues to the APHB to question such orders passed
without jurisdiction.
35. Since the learned Single Judge concluded that the orders passed by
the District Revenue Officer and the Commissioner (Appeals) were
without jurisdiction, there was obviously no occasion to decide the
question whether the claim filed by the respondents was belated or not.
Proceedings before the Division Bench
36. Feeling aggrieved by the judgment and order passed by the learned
Single Judge on 19th April, 2005, writ appeals being W.A. No. 1311 of
2005 and W.A. No. 1781 of 2005 were filed by the respondents
challenging the order passed by the learned Single Judge. By the
impugned judgment and order dated 25th September, 2009 the writ
appeals were allowed by the Division Bench and it is under these
circumstances that the present appeals are before us.
37. The High Court allowed the writ appeals primarily on two
submissions. It was held by the Division Bench that a report of the
survey authorities had confirmed that the area of land in Survey No. 1009
was more than 661.04 acres. Admittedly, only 661.04 acres had been
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acquired out of Survey No. 1009. Therefore, the APHB was entitled to
hold only 661.04 acres while the balance had not been acquired and
therefore the ownership remained with the respondents. According to the
Division Bench, there was a clerical error in the measurement area of
Survey No. 1009 and therefore paragraph 5(d) of the Circular dated 15th
October, 1994 was applicable and the authorities were entitled to correct
the calculation error.
38. The second ground given by the Division Bench was with
reference to the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Land Reforms (Ceiling
on Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973. In this context, it was held that
since the respondents were not holding the land, they could not have
made a declaration as envisaged under the provisions of the said Act and
in any event this was hardly of any relevance since Survey No. 1009
indicates that the area of that survey number was greater than 661.04
acres. However, what is of significance is the conclusion arrived at by
the Division Bench that the respondents were not in possession of 11.10
acres in Survey No. 1009. Possession of the entire Survey No. 1009 was
with the APHB.
Discussion
39. In our opinion, the Division Bench of the High Court has seriously
erred in setting aside the order of the learned Single Judge.
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40. It is quite clear to us that the APHB had acquired, in terms of the
Award dated 10th June, 1968 a couple of thousand acres of land covering
a few dozen survey numbers. The entire land was acquired and in view
of the large area of acquisition even if there was some error in describing
the area of a particular survey number, that would be inconsequential
given the overall acquisition and its purpose for a Housing Scheme under
Section 22A of the Andhra Pradesh Housing Board Act.
41. In addition, it is quite clear from the extracted passages in the
Award, that the entire land in Survey No.1009 was acquired by the
APHB. There cannot be any doubt in this regard, particularly since the
APHB also took possession of the entire Survey No.1009.
42. While it is correct that the respondents did submit in their claim
petition under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 that 11 acres
and odd had not been acquired, there was absolutely no reference to any
survey number in which this 11 acres and odd was located. There was no
clear identification of the land, no boundaries were mentioned nor was
the land ear-marked in any manner and in fact even the exact
measurement was not mentioned. It appears to us that the respondents
were taking a potshot in the dark to somehow or the other retain
possession of some of the acquired land.
43. If the respondents were convinced that 11 acres and odd had not
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been acquired by the APHB in 1968 it is not understandable why no
follow up action taken by them. They had an option, perhaps, of
proceeding against the APHB for being in wrongful possession of 11
acres and odd owned by the respondents and they certainly had the option
of moving an application under Section 87 of the Act. The respondents
took neither of these steps on an urgent basis or any other step that might
have been available to them in law.
44. All that the respondents did was to wait for another 25 years and
then move an application under Section 87 of the Act sometime in 1993.
There was no change in the factual situation between 1968 and 1993
except construction having been made by the APHB in pursuance of its
Housing Scheme. The respondents have given absolutely no explanation
for filing an application under Section 87 of the Act after such an
enormous lapse of time. What has been submitted is that there is no time
limit for correcting a clerical error and that being so, the respondents
cannot be non-suited on the ground of delay and laches.
45. We are not in agreement with the respondents on any aspect of the
case. First of all we agree with the APHB that an accurate picture of the
area in terms of measurement of land in Survey No.1009 cannot be fully
relied upon after several decades and after construction having been
made. The records had originally indicated that Survey No.1009 consists
 C.A. Nos.______________/2018 (@ SLP (C) Nos. 21856-21862 of 2010) Page 20 of 31
of 666.25 acres and we must proceed on that basis rather than assume the
correctness of a measurement carried out after several decades.
46. That the unexplained delay in measurement of the area cannot be
relied upon is also supported by the fact that even the revenue authorities
were not quite sure about the exact area of Survey No.1009. According
to the respondents, 11.10 acres had not been acquired but according to the
revenue authorities the entire area of Survey No.1009 was actually 687.03
acres with the result that 20.18 had not been acquired. In view of this
discrepancy, we are of opinion that surveys conducted post the
notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act cannot be relied
upon. We have also noted that it has come on record that IDL was also in
possession of some parts of Survey No.1009. We must, therefore, accept
the fact that the entire Survey No.1009 was acquired by the APHB and
possession taken, regardless of its actual measurement and the alleged
non-acquisition of 11.10 acres is nothing but a red herring.
Consequently, the question of correcting a ‘clerical error’ with reference
to Section 87 of the Act does not arise.
A clerical error
47. In any event, it was contended by the respondents that a clerical
error was sought to be corrected in the measurement of the area of Survey
No.1009. It is not clear what the clerical error was. If the clerical error
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was that the area of Survey No.1009 was not 661.04 acres or 666.25 acres
but actually 687.03 acres then the contention is self-defeating. This is
because the area of Survey No.1009 would then have to be read as 687.03
for all purposes and not 661.04 acres. The consequence of this correction
would be that the acquisition was of 687.03 acres and not of 661.04 acres.
48. That apart, the correction of the alleged clerical error does not give
rise to the argument that only 661.04 acres was acquired out of 687.03
acres. If the correction gives rise to an argument or contention, then it
ceases to be the correction of a clerical error but is really the correction of
a substantive error, which does not come within the purview of Section
87 of the Act.
49. Be that as it may, in M/s Tata Consulting Engineers v. Workmen1
Pathak, J. adverted to a clerical error and held in paragraph 20 of the
Report as follows:
“The jurisdiction given to the [Industrial] Tribunal by Rule 31
[Industrial Disputes (Bombay) Rules, 1957] is closely
circumscribed. It is only a clerical mistake or error which can be
corrected, and the clerical mistake or error must arise from an
accidental slip or omission in the award. An accidental slip or
omission implies that something was intended and contrary to
that intention what should not have been included has been
included or what should have been included has been omitted. It
must be a mistake or error amenable to clerical correction only. It
must not be a mistake or error which calls for rectification by
modification of the conscious adjudication on the issues
involved.”

1 1980 (Supp.) SCC 627
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50. Similarly, a clerical error was discussed in Sooraj Devi v. Pyare
Lal.
2
 In paragraph 4 of the Report, reference was made to Master
Construction Co. (P) Ltd. v. State of Orissa3
and it was held as follows:
“A clerical or arithmetical error is an error occasioned by an
accidental slip or omission of the court. It represents that which
the court never intended to say. It is an error apparent on the face
of the record and does not depend for its discovery on argument
or disputation. An arithmetical error is a mistake of calculation,
and a clerical error is a mistake in writing or typing.”
51. More recently, in Vipinchandra Vadilal Bavishi (Dead) by Lrs. v.
State of Gujarat 4
it was held in paragraph 26 of the Report as follows:
“An arithmetical mistake is a mistake in calculation, while a
clerical mistake is a mistake of writing or typing error occurring
due to accidental slip or omissions or error due to careless
mistake or omission. In our considered opinion, substituting
different lands in place of the lands which have been notified by a
statutory notification under Sections 10(1), 10(3) and 10(5)
[Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Act, 1976] cannot and
shall not be done by issuing a corrigendum unless the mandatory
requirements contained in the aforementioned sections is
complied with. A landholder cannot be divested from his land on
the plea of clerical or arithmetical mistake liable to be corrected
by issuing corrigendum.”
52. The Circular dated 15th October, 1994 clarifies a clerical error.
Some examples have been given and one clarification is to the effect that
a clerical error is where the area is calculated wrongly though
measurement on the ground and the records support the correct area.

2
(1981) 1 SCC 500
3AIR 1966 SC 1047
4
(2016) 4 SCC 531
 C.A. Nos.______________/2018 (@ SLP (C) Nos. 21856-21862 of 2010) Page 23 of 31
This clause is sought to be relied upon by the respondents. It must be
appreciated in this case that there is no question of a calculation error
since no arithmetical error was committed as understood by this Court.
The area of Survey No.1009 was measured and it was found to be 666.25
acres (including the area acquired for Manjeera Water Works
Department). The survey by the Measuring Circle Inspector, the check
by the G.D. Inspector and approved by the Land Record Assistant clearly
indicate this. This was sought to be ‘corrected’ by the respondents by
claiming that the area of Survey No.1009 was much more. A calculation
error would be, in a situation such as the present, an error that would
appear on the face of the document or the revenue records, as the case
may be. If there is a need to carry out a survey and a re-survey, the error
cannot by any means, be described as a clerical error.
53. What makes the situation worse insofar as the respondents are
concerned is that according to them the error was to the extent of 11.10
acres but on a survey having been conducted, the error was said to be to
an extent of 20.18 acres. Surely, such a discrepancy cannot be described
as an accidental slip or a clerical mistake or a calculation error. It can
only be described as a major error which ought to have been rectified at
the appropriate time in 1968 when the Award was passed or soon
thereafter. To notice and make much ado about such an error after at
 C.A. Nos.______________/2018 (@ SLP (C) Nos. 21856-21862 of 2010) Page 24 of 31
least 25 years cannot be understood as the correction of a clerical error.
54. Learned counsel for the respondents referred to K.P. Varghese v.
Income Tax Officer, Ernakulum and Another 5
to contend that the
Circular dated 15th October, 1994 is a contemporaneous exposition of the
true state of affairs as understood by the revenue authorities themselves
and if they believed that a ‘clerical error’ ought to be interpreted in the
manner described in the Circular, that interpretation must be accepted.
The following passage was referred to and relied upon:
“The rule of construction by reference to contemporanea
expositio is a well-established rule for interpreting a statute by
reference to the exposition it has received from contemporary
authority, though it must give way where the language of the
statute is plain and unambiguous. This rule has been succinctly
and felicitously expressed in Crawford on Statutory
Construction, (1940 Edn.) where it is stated in para 219 that
“administrative construction (i.e. contemporaneous construction
placed by administrative or executive officers charged with
executing a statute) generally should be clearly wrong before it is
overturned; such a construction, commonly referred to as
practical construction, although non-controlling, is nevertheless
entitled to considerable weight; it is highly persuasive””.
55. Similarly, reference was also made to Desh Bandhu Gupta and
Co. v. Delhi Stock Exchange Association Ltd.6The following passage
was relied upon by learned counsel for the respondents.
“The principle of contemporanea expositio (interpreting a statute
or any other document by reference to the exposition it has
received from contemporary authority) can be invoked though the

5 AIR 1981 SC 1922”
6 AIR 1979 SC 1049
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same will not always be decisive of the question of construction
(Maxwell 12th ed. p. 268).”
56. It is no doubt true that the contemporaneous exposition of a
document must carry great weight but if that exposition is not in
consonance with the law laid down by the Courts, including this Court,
the exposition would not be relevant. We have made a reference to
several decisions which explain the meaning of a clerical error.The view
expressed in the Circular dated 15th October, 1994 particularly clause 5(d)
referred to and relied upon by the respondents does not come within the
four corners of the understanding of the expression clerical error by this
Court if it involves a survey and a re-survey as in this case. Therefore,
no reliance can be placed upon the contemporaneous exposition made by
the revenue authorities in the Circular dated 15th October, 1994.
57. We conclude that there was no clerical error in the measurement of
Survey No.1009 for all intents and purposes and that in any event, the
entire land in Survey No.1009 was acquired for the Housing Scheme of
the APHB.
Section 87 of the Act and delay in making a claim
58. We are also not satisfied with the delay by the respondents in
making a claim under Section 87 of the Act. The contention of the
respondents is that since there is no time limit specified for filing a claim
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petition, they could have made a claim at any point of time, particularly
for correcting a clerical error.
59. It is now well settled that where no time-limit is specified,
whatever is required to be done should be within a reasonable period. In
Collector v. P. Mangamma7
it was held in paragraphs 5 and 6 as follows:
“A reasonable period would depend upon the factual
circumstances of the case concerned. There cannot be any
empirical formula to determine that question. The court/authority
considering the question whether the period is reasonable or not
has to take into account the surrounding circumstances and
relevant factors to decide that question.
In State of Gujarat v. Patel Raghav Natha8
it was observed that
when even no period of limitation was prescribed, the power is to
be exercised within a reasonable time and the limit of the
reasonable time must be determined by the facts of the case and
the nature of the order which was sought to be varied.........”.
Reasonable, being a relative term is essentially what is rational
according to the dictates of reason and not excessive or
immoderate on the facts and circumstances of the particular
case.”
60. Similarly, in Joint Collector Ranga Reddy District v. D. Narsing
Rao 9
the exercise of revisional jurisdiction where no time-limit is
specified was considered and it was held in paragraph 31 of the Report as
follows:
“To sum up, delayed exercise of revisional jurisdiction is
frowned upon because if actions or transactions were to remain
forever open to challenge, it will mean avoidable and endless
uncertainty in human affairs, which is not the policy of law.

7
(2003) 4 SCC 488 at page 491
8
 (1969) 2 SCC 187
9
(2015) 3 SCC 695
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Because, even when there is no period of limitation prescribed
for exercise of such powers, the intervening delay, may have led
to creation of third-party rights, that cannot be trampled by a
belated exercise of a discretionary power especially when no
cogent explanation for the delay is in sight. Rule of law it is said
must run closely with the rule of life. Even in cases where the
orders sought to be revised are fraudulent, the exercise of power
must be within a reasonable period of the discovery of fraud.
Simply describing an act or transaction to be fraudulent will not
extend the time for its correction to infinity; for otherwise the
exercise of revisional power would itself be tantamount to a fraud
upon the statute that vests such power in an authority.”
61. Finally in Basanti Prasad v. Chairman, Bihar School
Examination Board10 it was pointed out where third party rights are
likely to be affected, the courts decline to interfere but if there is a
necessity to interfere then the aggrieved person should be heard on
merits.
62. Insofar as the facts of the present case are concerned, the claim
made under Section 87 of the Act was after a period of at least 25 years.
This can hardly be described as a reasonable period. There is no
explanation for the inordinate delay and to make matters worse, third
party interests have been created through a Housing Scheme developed
on the land in dispute or in any event on the surrounding land. After a
further lapse of 25 years it is not possible to put the clock back, even if
there is any reason to do so, which reason we cannot even visualise in this
case.

10(2009) 6 SCC 791
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Locus standi
63. It was submitted by learned counsel for the respondents that the
APHB has no locus standi to raise any dispute with regard to the
measurement of Survey No.1009. We are not at all in agreement with
this submission. A tract of land measuring 11.10 acres out of Survey
No.1009 was sought to be taken away from the APHB which had
announced a Housing Scheme under Section 22A of the Andhra Pradesh
Housing Board Act, 1956 and third party rights had also been created in
this regard. The primary responsibility of protecting the interests of the
beneficiaries of the Housing Scheme was that of the APHB and surely it
cannot be said under these circumstances that the APHB had no locus
standi to participate in the proceedings. In fact, even the revenue
authorities recognised the locus of the APHB in the order dated 15th
September, 1997. The Commissioner of Survey, Settlements and Land
Records, Hyderabad directed the District Revenue Officer to take action
in terms of the Circular of 15th October, 1994 but before passing any
orders under Section 87 of the Act, it was directed that the APHB should
be heard. We therefore reject the contention that the APHB had no locus
standi in the matter.
Interference on facts
64. The final submission of learned counsel for the respondents was
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that the revenue authorities had come a factual conclusion in their favour
and the High Court ought not to have interfered with the factual
conclusions and even this Court ought not to interfere with the factual
conclusions arrived at by the revenue authorities. In our opinion, the
revenue authorities had completely misdirected in law in reopening a
factual issue that had been settled way back in 1968 if not earlier and
there was no occasion for reopening that factual issue after a lapse of at
least 25 years. That being the position, it cannot be said that the courts
are precluded from interfering in a matter of determination of facts when
the authorities have completely misdirected themselves in law and
exercised jurisdiction which did not vest in them. We therefore also
reject this submission of the respondents.
Conclusion
65. To conclude, therefore, we hold that the entire Survey No. 1009
was acquired by the APHB for a Housing Scheme. No parcel of land in
Survey No.1009 was left out or not acquired. Compensation was paid for
acquisition of the entire Survey No.1009. The Division Bench of the
High Court erred in concluding that 20.18 acres of land in Survey
No.1009 had not been acquired.
66. We also hold that it is too simplistic on the part of the respondents
to contend that land in excess of 661.04 acres in Survey No.1009 was not
 C.A. Nos.______________/2018 (@ SLP (C) Nos. 21856-21862 of 2010) Page 30 of 31
acquired. This is certainly not so and the entire Survey No.1009 was
acquired. The submission in this regard is rejected.
67. We also hold that the claim made by the respondents under Section
87 of the Act was hopelessly delayed for which there is absolutely no
explanation forthcoming. In addition, we hold that since third party
rights have been created in the meanwhile under the Housing Scheme of
the APHB and there is no way to put the clock back. The respondents
ought to have been vigilant in pursuing their claim, assuming the claim
was legitimate, but since they were not vigilant enough, they must suffer
the consequences of their inaction.
68. We also hold that the proceedings under the Andhra Pradesh Land
Reforms (Ceiling of Agricultural Holdings) Act, 1973 were of some
consequence but since the APHB has not relied upon the proceedings
under the said Act and learned counsel has only mentioned it in passing,
we do not intend to base our decision on the declaration made by the
respondents under the said Act.
69. We also hold that the APHB was directly and primarily affected by
the claim made by the respondents under Section 87 of the Act and
therefore had the locus standi to proceed before the Commissioner
(Appeals), the High Court and this Court.
70. In view of the above conclusions, the judgment and order passed
 C.A. Nos.______________/2018 (@ SLP (C) Nos. 21856-21862 of 2010) Page 31 of 31
by the Division Bench is set aside and the appeals filed by the Telangana
Housing Board are allowed. No costs.
 .............................................J
 (Madan B. Lokur)
New Delhi; ...........................................J
May 1, 2018 (Deepak Gupta)

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