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Bhanu Pratap Pandey & Others v. Dm & Another - WRIT - C No. 24867 of 1995  RD-AH 764 (12 January 2007)
Judgement Reserved on 12.10.2006
Judgement Delivered on 12.01.2007
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 24867 of 1995
Bhanu Pratap Pandey and others Versus District Magistrate Banda and another.
Hon'ble S.U.Khan J
It appears that a large tract of land was acquired in Tehsil Mau District Banda including the land of the petitioners. In the award given under section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, Special Land Acquisition Officer offered to pay the compensation at the rate of Rs.472/- per bigha. Several persons whose land had been acquired including the petitioners filed applications for making reference to the District Judge under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act as they were not satisfied with the market value determined and offered by Special Land Acquisition Officer. In the cases of the petitioners, references were made by the Collector to the District Judge through letter/ order dated 12.8.1991. Thereafter District Magistrate, Banda wrote letters to the District Judge Banda on 13.7.1993, copy of one of such letter is annexure 9 to the writ petition. In the said letters, it was stated that 35 references were not actually sent by the office of the Collector as they were not entered in the Dak Bahi. It was further stated in the said letter that due to fraud played by the applicants as well as two employees of the Collectorate, signature of Collector had been obtained on covering letter. Through the said letter, it was requested that 35 references should be sent back to the District Magistrate so that detailed enquiry could be made and references could be sent to the District Judge thereafter. It may be mentioned that more than 35 references had been sent to the District Judge and some such references had already been decided. Learned counsel for the petitioner has filed copy of the judgement dated 21.4.1992 given by II Additional District Judge, Banda in L.A Reference No. 119/70 of 1989, Lalta Prasad Vs. State of U.P. Through the said order, compensation was enhanced to Rs.9000/- per bigha. Similarly copy of the judgement dated 10.4.1992 by the same learned A.D.J Banda in L.A Reference No. 117/70 of 1989, Narmada Prasad Vs. State has also been filed. Through the said judgement also market value of the land was determined to be Rs.9000/- per bigha as against market value of Rs. 472/-per bigha determined and offered by Special Land Acquisition Officer. All the lands had been acquired by the same notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act for some glass factory situate at Bargarh and the lands were situate in village Arwari Nandhiya Kakeha.
District Judge in pursuance of letter of District Magistrate dated 13.7.1993, returned the 35 references to the District Magistrate including the references of the petitioners through covering letter dated 21/24 August 1993, copy of the said letter is annexure 10 to the writ petition. Thereafter Bir Singh Ahalmad, Head Clerk and Special Land Acquisition Officer gave a report to the D.M,on 5.6.95, copy of which is contained in annexure 11 to the writ petition. In the said report, it was mentioned that on the applications for making reference in respect of the disputed 35 references there were no signature of Presiding Officer or Competent Officer acknowledging/ endorsing receipt of the applications, and previous Ahalmad Vidya Sagar and previous Head Clerk Mani Ram were responsible for the fraud in receiving the applications beyond time. It was not disputed that on the letter sent by the D.M to the District Judge sending the references on 12.8.1991 annexure 8 to the writ petition, signatures of District Magistrate were there. However, it was stated that the signatures were obtained by D.M by keeping him in dark. On the said report, which runs into 9 pages, D.M. Banda passed an order on 6.6.1995, which is appended at the end of annexure 11. The order is contained only in one page. In the said order it was mentioned that the office report dated 5.6.1995 shall form part of the order. The District Magistrate held that as the applications for making reference did not contain the signatures of Special Land Acquisition Officer or any other competent officer acknowledging / endorsing the receipt hence the said applications should have been filed afterwards and not on the dates on which they were shown to have been received by the then Ahalmad and Head Clerk. Normally applications are not received by the officer himself. Neither in the report nor in the order it was mentioned that what was the previous practice. In respect of same requisition some references (other than the 35 reference in question ) were never disputed and they were also decided by the District Judge and Additional District Judges. In the enquiry report, it was not mentioned that the valid (undisputed ) references were received by Special Land Acquisition Officer or by some other officer himself or they were also received by the concerned clerk. It also does not appear that petitioners were heard either by the enquiry officer /officials or by the District Magistrate who passed the order on 6.6.1995. Special Land Acquisition Officer should have mentioned that what was the procedure of endorsement and entry of applications for reference normally followed in his office.
Through this writ petition the above two orders dated 21/24.8.1993 (by District Judge) and 6.6.1995 (by District Magistrate) have been challenged.
The argument of learned counsel for the petitioner is that applications for references were made within time as provided under section 18(2) of the Land Acquisition Act and no fraud or collusion was involved.
It is not clear that on what basis District Magistrate entertained the doubt about the correctness of the references and why the collector and his office was sleeping till the decision of the references by the District Judge/ Additional District Judges granting enhancement from Rs. 472/- per bigha to Rs.9000/- per bigha.
The only grievance of the Collector was that the application for reference was made beyond time and due to collusion in between the applicants and the then Ahalmad and Head Clerk they were shown to have been filed within time.
Reference having once been sent by the Land Acquisition Officer/ Collector to the District Judge can not be withdrawn. However, the question of limitation can very well be decided by the District Judge/ Additional District Judge also while deciding the reference. This plea can very well be raised by the collector/ Special Land Acquisition Officer/ or the person / authority for whom the land is acquired before the District Judge even after reference has been sent to the District Judge vide AIR 1979 SC 404 Mohd Hasnuddin Vs. State of Maharashtra.
Accordingly writ petition is allowed. Both the impugned orders are set-aside. References are restored on the file of the District Judge. The references must immediately be sent back by the collector to the district Judge. District Judge may either himself decide the references or sent the same to some other Additional District Judge. However, it is made abundantly clear that if the question of limitation and question of collusion and fraud is raised by the State/ Collector/ Special Land Acquisition Officer/ the person or the authority for whom the land is acquired before the District Judge/ Additional District Judge then the same shall be specifically decided on the basis of evidence brought on record before the District Judge/ Additional District Judge.
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