Thursday, 18 July 2019

Whether it is mandatory for court to decide cross objection on merit independently if it has disposed off appeal on merit?

The High Court having dismissed the appeals
filed by the State/NTPC was, therefore, required to
examine as to whether any case was made out by
the landowners (appellants herein) in their cross
objection for enhancement of compensation.
18. We find from the impugned order that the High
Court, in para 24, dismissed the cross objection
without assigning any reason. The order rejecting
the cross objection reads as under:
24. Crossobjection,
if any, shall also
stand disposed of.
19. Order 41 Rule 22(4) of the Code, provides that
where, in any case in which any respondent has
under this rule filed a memorandum of objection,
the original appeal is withdrawn or is dismissed for
default, the objection so filed may nevertheless be
heard and determined after such notice to the other
parties as the Court thinks fit.

20. In our considered opinion, merely because the
High Court dismissed the appeals filed by the
respondents herein though on merits, yet that by
itself would not result in dismissal of the
landowners’ cross objection also. In our view, the
cross objection had to be disposed of on its merits
notwithstanding the dismissal of the appeals as
provided by in Order 41 Rule 22 (4) of the Code by
assigning reasons.
21. In other words, even though the High Court
dismissed the appeals of the State/NTPC on merits
yet it was obligatory on the part of the High Court to
have independently examined the issues raised by
the landowners (respondents in appeal) before the
High Court in the cross objection with a view to find
out as to whether any case was made out on facts
by the landowners for further enhancement in the
compensation and, if so, to what extent. The

question as to whether any case for enhancement of
compensation is made out or not was required to be
decided on appreciation of the evidence adduced by
the parties on the issue of market value of the
acquired land keeping in view the parameters laid
down in Section 23 of the Act.
22. In our view, the High Court failed to examine
the aforesaid question while dealing with the cross
objection of the landowners and wrongly rejected it
without assigning any reason as is clear from the
order quoted above. Rejection of cross objection
without any discussion and reason cannot be
countenanced. It is not, therefore, legally
sustainable.

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL Nos.55575559
OF 2019

Shri Badru Vs   NTPC Limited (formerly National Thermal
Power Corporation Limited) 
Abhay Manohar Sapre, J.
Dated:July 16, 2019.

1. Leave granted.
2. These appeals are filed against the final
judgment and order dated 20.04.2017 passed by
1
the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla in
R.F.A. No.221 of 2011 with Cross Objection No.39 of
2014 and R.F.A. No.246 of 2011 whereby the High
Court dismissed the appeals filed by the
respondentNTPC
and, in consequence, rejected the
Cross Objection filed by the appellants herein.
3. A few facts need mention hereinbelow for the
disposal of these appeals, which involve a short
point.
4. The appellants herein are the claimants
(landowners) whereas the respondent No.1 is the
NTPCa
Government Company for whom the land in
question was acquired for public purpose and
respondent Nos. 2 and 3 are the State and the Land
Acquisition Collector.
5. The land in question (hereinafter called the
“the suit land”) belonged to the appellants. The suit
land was acquired by the State (respondent No. 3)

for the benefit of NTPC (respondent No. 1) for
execution of public purpose under the provisions of
the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred
to as "the Act"). This led to initiation of proceedings
for determination of compensation payable to the
landowners (appellants herein) under Section 11 of
the Act by the Land Acquisition Officer (LAO).
6. By award dated 12.07.2006, the LAO offered
Rs.3,87,383/per
bigha to the appellants as
compensation for the suit land. The appellants felt
aggrieved and sought reference under Section 18 of
the Act to the Civil Court for determination of the
compensation offered by the LAO.
7. The Reference Court (Civil Court) by award
dated 31.03.2009 partly allowed the reference in
favour of the appellants and enhanced the
compensation from Rs.3,87,383/to
Rs.5,00,000/per
bigha. In other words, the Reference Court, after
3
appreciating the evidence, held that the appellants
are entitled to claim compensation at the rate of
Rs.5,00,000/per
bigha.
8. The State and NTPC felt aggrieved by the
award of the Reference Court and filed appeals
before the High Court of Himachal Pradesh under
Section 54 of the Act. The appellants instead of
filing regular appeal against the award of reference
Court filed cross objection under Order 41 Rule 22
of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (hereinafter
referred to as “the Code”) in the respondents’
appeals and sought enhancement in the
compensation awarded by the Reference Court to
them.
9. By impugned order, the High Court dismissed
the appeals filed by the NTPC/State and, in
consequence, also dismissed the cross objection
filed by the appellants. The effect of the dismissal of

the appeals and cross objection was upholding of
the award passed by the Reference Court (Civil
Court). The landowners felt aggrieved by the
rejection of their cross objection and they have filed
the present appeals by way of special leave in this
Court.
10. So, the only question, which arises for
consideration in these appeals, is whether the High
Court was justified in dismissing the appellants’
cross objection. Since the respondents herein (State
and NTPC) did not file any special leave to appeal in
this Court against that part of the order of the High
Court, which resulted in dismissal of their appeal, it
has attained finality qua the respondents.
11. In other words, we are not required to examine
the question as to whether the High Court was
justified in dismissing the respondents’ appeals for
two reasons: first, these appeals are filed by the

landowners against the rejection of their cross
objection and second, the respondents did not file
any appeal against the dismissal of their appeal by
the High Court.
12. Heard learned counsel for the parties.
13. Having heard the learned counsel for the
parties and on perusal of the record of the case, we
are inclined to allow the appeals and while setting
aside the impugned order insofar as it relates to the
dismissal of the cross objection, remand the case
(cross objection) to the High Court for deciding the
cross objection on its merits in accordance with law.
14. Two questions fell for consideration before the
High Court: first, whether the Reference Court was
right in awarding Rs.5,00,000/per
bigha by way of
compensation to the landowners and second,
whether any case was made out for enhancement of
the amount of compensation than what was

awarded to them by the Reference Court by its
award dated 31.03.2009.
15. So far as first question is concerned, it was
required to be decided by the High Court at the
instance of the State/NTPC in their appeals whereas
so far as the second question is concerned, it was
required to be decided at the instance of the
landowners in their cross objection.
16. It cannot be disputed that the appellants
(landowners) had two remedies to question the
legality or/and correctness of the award passed by
the Reference Court. One remedy was by way of
appeal under Section 54 of the Act and the other
remedy was to file cross objection under Order 41
Rule 22 of the Code in the appeal filed by the
State/NTPC. In this case, the landowners took
recourse to second remedy of filing the cross
objection under Order 41 Rule 22 of the Code.

17. The High Court having dismissed the appeals
filed by the State/NTPC was, therefore, required to
examine as to whether any case was made out by
the landowners (appellants herein) in their cross
objection for enhancement of compensation.
18. We find from the impugned order that the High
Court, in para 24, dismissed the cross objection
without assigning any reason. The order rejecting
the cross objection reads as under:
24. Crossobjection,
if any, shall also
stand disposed of.
19. Order 41 Rule 22(4) of the Code, provides that
where, in any case in which any respondent has
under this rule filed a memorandum of objection,
the original appeal is withdrawn or is dismissed for
default, the objection so filed may nevertheless be
heard and determined after such notice to the other
parties as the Court thinks fit.

20. In our considered opinion, merely because the
High Court dismissed the appeals filed by the
respondents herein though on merits, yet that by
itself would not result in dismissal of the
landowners’ cross objection also. In our view, the
cross objection had to be disposed of on its merits
notwithstanding the dismissal of the appeals as
provided by in Order 41 Rule 22 (4) of the Code by
assigning reasons.
21. In other words, even though the High Court
dismissed the appeals of the State/NTPC on merits
yet it was obligatory on the part of the High Court to
have independently examined the issues raised by
the landowners (respondents in appeal) before the
High Court in the cross objection with a view to find
out as to whether any case was made out on facts
by the landowners for further enhancement in the
compensation and, if so, to what extent. The

question as to whether any case for enhancement of
compensation is made out or not was required to be
decided on appreciation of the evidence adduced by
the parties on the issue of market value of the
acquired land keeping in view the parameters laid
down in Section 23 of the Act.
22. In our view, the High Court failed to examine
the aforesaid question while dealing with the cross
objection of the landowners and wrongly rejected it
without assigning any reason as is clear from the
order quoted above. Rejection of cross objection
without any discussion and reason cannot be
countenanced. It is not, therefore, legally
sustainable.
23. In view of the foregoing discussion, the appeals
succeed and are accordingly allowed. The impugned
order insofar as it relates to dismissal of the

appellants’ (landowners) cross objection (Para 24) is
set aside.
24. The case is remanded to the High Court for
deciding the cross objection filed by the appellants
(landowners) in accordance with law with a view to
find out as to whether any case on evidence is made
out by the appellants (landowners) for claiming
further enhancement of the amount of
compensation determined by the Reference Court
and, if so, to what extent and, if not, why.
25. The High Court will first verify as to whether
the landowners have valued their claim made in the
cross objection and, if so, whether they paid ad
velorum court fees on the claim. If the landowners
neither valued and nor paid the ad velorum court
fees on the claim, they shall be granted reasonable
time to first value their claim and pay ad velorum
court fees on such claim. Once the court fees, as

required under the Court fees Act, is paid by the
landowners, the cross objection be decided strictly
in accordance with law without disturbing the main
order passed in the appeals filed by the State/NTPC
which, as mentioned above, has attained finality.
26. We, however make it clear that we have not
applied our mind to the question as to whether any
case was made out by the appellants (landowners)
for any enhancement in award of compensation.
The High Court would accordingly decide the cross
objection on its merit strictly in accordance with law
without being influenced by any of our observations
made in this order.
.………...................................J.
[ABHAY MANOHAR SAPRE]
…...……..................................J.
[INDU MALHOTRA]
New Delhi;
July 16, 2019

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