Tuesday 13 May 2014

Land acquisition court can not grant compensation unless evidence is adduced by claimant

Ramanlal Deochand Shah v. State of Maharashtra, (2013) 14 SCC 50

Land Acquisition Act, 1894
Ss. 18, 23 and 24 - Reference to court - Burden of proof - Held, it is trite that in a reference under S. 18 on question of
adequacy of compensation determined by Collector, burden to prove that Collector's award does not correctly determine
the amount of compensation payable to landowner is upon the owner concerned - It is for the claimant to prove that the
amount awarded by Collector needs enhancement, and if so, to what extent - Claimant can do so by adducing evidence,
whether oral or documentary which Reference Court would evaluate having regard to provisions of Ss. 23 and 24 of
Land Acquisition Act while determining compensation payable to owners - To that extent claimant is in position of a
plaintiff before Court
Land Acquisition Act, 1894

Ss. 18, 11, 23 and 54 - Reference to court - Role of Reference Court - Reference Court answering issues in favour of
appellants and enhancing compensation relying entirely upon discussion in draft award and taking advantage of an
apparent conflict between discussion contained therein and amount actually awarded by SLAO - Held, High Court was
right in reversing order of Reference Court - In absence of any evidence to prove that amount of award by Collector does
not represent the true market value of property as on date of preliminary notification, Reference Court will be helpless
and will not be justified in granting any enhancement - Court cannot go by surmises and conjectures while answering
reference nor can it assume role of an appellate court and enhance amount awarded by reappraising material that was
collected and considered by the Collector - What is important to remember is that a reference to a civil court is not in
nature of an appeal from one forum to another where appellate forum takes a view based on evidence before forum
below - This legal position is settled by decisions of Supreme Court, 

Land Acquisition Act, 1894
Ss. 18 and 23 - Reference to court - Burden of proof - Proper discharge of - Held, on facts, landowners (appellants) did
not lead any evidence in support of their claim before Reference Court to prove that market value of land acquired was
more than what was awarded as compensation by Collector - Neither order passed by Reference Court nor passed by
High Court make any reference to such evidence - Absence of any such evidence was, therefore, bound to go against
the appellants - So long as appellants failed to discharge the burden cast on them, there was no question of Reference
Court granting any enhancement - High Court was, in that view, justified in holding that enhancement granted in absence
of any evidence was unjustified, 
Land Acquisition Act, 1894
Ss. 18 and 23 - Reference to court - Practice and procedure - Whether claimants could rely on documents produced by
respondent State before Collector - Held, on facts, no evidence having been adduced by respondent-defendants,
whether documentary or otherwise, there was no question of appellant relying upon such non-existent evidence - Merely
because some documents were referred to in the draft award by Collector, did not make said documents admissible by
themselves to enable plaintiffs to refer to or rely upon the same in support of a possible enhancement unless those were
either admitted by the plaintiff or properly proved and exhibited at the trial, same could not by themselves constitute
evidence except where such documents were public documents admissible by themselves under any provision, 
Constitution of India
Arts. 300-A and 136 - Remand - Non-consideration of material evidence - Giving appellant landowners another
opportunity to adduce evidence - Held, failure or omission to lead evidence to prove claim in present case was based on

misconception about legal requirement as to evidence needed to prove cases of enhancement of compensation - Hence,
there is no reason to deny another opportunity to landowners to prove their cases by adducing evidence in support of
their claim for enhancement - Impugned judgments and orders modified to the extent that while enhancement order by
Reference Court set aside, matters remanded to Reference Court for fresh disposal in accordance with law after giving
landowners opportunity to lead evidence - Since, however, opportunity is granted ex debito justitiae, if Reference Court
eventually comes to the conclusion that a higher amount was due and payable to the appellant landowners, such higher
amount including solatium due thereon would not earn interest for the period between date of judgment of Reference
Court and date of judgment and order of Supreme Court for higher compensation, 
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