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Executive Engineer Lower Wardha Project Division Wardha v/s Arvind Sheshrao Wankhede & Others

    First Appeal No. 24 of 2017

    Decided On, 23 June 2022

    At, In the High Court of Bombay at Nagpur


    For the Appellant: S.K. Bhoyar, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, Rajnish Vyas, Advocate, R2 & R3, A.M. Kadukar, AGP.

Judgment Text

In this Appeal filed under Section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 ( for short ‘the said Act’), the Judgment and Award dated 27th February, 2015 passed by the learned Joint Civil Judge, Senior Division, Wardha in Land Acquisition Case No. 180 of 2006 is under challenge.

2. Land bearing Survey No. 28, admeasuring 1.98 H.R., Survey No. 39, admeasuring 2.43 H.R., Survey No.74, admeasuring 1.52 H.R. and Survey No. 75, admeasuring 1.44 H.R. (having fruit bearing and other trees) were the subject matter of acquisition for submergence under the Lower Wardha Project. The Notification under Section 4(1) of the said Act was published on 11th September, 1998.

3. The Land Acquisition Officer passed an Award on 30th March, 2002 and fixed the market value of the acquired lands of different rates at the rate of Rs. 62,475/-, Rs. 64,833/-, Rs. 97,250/-, Rs.61,635/- and Rs.61,909/- per hector, respectively, for the above-said acquired lands. The Land Acquisition Officer offered total compensation of Rs. 1,55,438/-, Rs. 2,05,198/-, Rs.1,40,997/- and Rs.70,211/- respectively for the total areal admeasuring 7.37 H.R. of acquired lands.

4. There were fruit bearing trees in the acquired lands. The Land Acquisition Officer valued total 86 orange trees in Survey No.28, 470 orange trees, 05 subabhul trees, 01 Bel tree and 06 bamboo trees in Survey No. 74 and 350 orange trees in Survey No.75. The Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation of Rs.2,65,283/- for orange and Rs.1,633/-for other trees and Rs.4,050/- for well situated in Survey No.74. The claimant accepted the amount of compensation under protest.

5. The claimant not being satisfied with the Award as passed, filed present proceedings under Section 18 of the said Act. The reference Court by its Judgment and Award dated 27th February, 2015 partly allowed the claim and enhanced the compensation at the rate of Rs.2,00,000/- P.H. for acquired lands of Survey No.28, admeasuring 1.98 H.R., Survey No. 74, admeasuring 1.52 H.R, Survey No. 75, admeasuring 1.44 H.R. and Rs. 1,50,000/- P.H. towards acquired land of Survey No. 30, admeasuring 2.43 H.R., situated at Mouza Mubarakpur, Tq. Arvi, Distt. Wardha. The reference Court further directed the respondents to jointly and severally pay an amount of Rs.50,55,000/- (after deducting the amount of compensation already paid) towards enhanced compensation of fruit bearing trees, situated in the field bearing No. 28, 74 and 75 along with statutory interest. The Acquiring Body being aggrieved by the enhancement in the amount of compensation has preferred the present Appeal.

6. Mr. Bhoyar, learned Counsel for the appellant, submits that the learned reference Court failed to see that the compensation granted by the SALO is based on an enquiry having necessary material and the instances on record. The compensation was adequate, just and proper. Similarly, the reference Court granted compensation for 925 non existing orange trees under the joint measurement report. The impugned Judgment and Award being arbitrary, perverse, baseless , un-reasoned and being contrary to the material on record and the facts and circumstances of the case, is liable to be quashed and set aside.

7. Mr. Vyas, learned Counsel for respondent No.1, on the other hand, supported the impugned Judgment and Award and took me through the various observations made by the reference Court while enhancing the claim amount. According to learned Counsel, the reasoning being just and proper and based on the material on record need not be interfered with. Appeal being devoid of merits, the same is liable to be dismissed.

8. I have carefully perused the record with the assistance of learned Counsel for the parties.

9. It appears that respondent No.1 herein had relied upon sale instances (Index-II) of mouza Pachegaon, Borgaon, Bhayyapur and Daulatpur, Tah. Arvi at Exh. 26, 27, 36 and 64 respectively. The learned reference Court carefully went through the oral and documentary evidence including the above-said sale instances and as also 7/12 extracts (Exhs. 28 to 35) of acquired lands. On the basis of oral and documentary evidence, the learned reference Court found and, rightly so, that the acquired fields i.e. Survey Nos. 28, 74 and 75 were perennially irrigated lands and field Survey No. 30 was seasonally irrigated land. The learned reference Court also observed that village Mubarakpur and the villages Pachegaon, Borgaon (Hatala), Daulatpur and Bhayyapur are also situated in Tahsil Arvi and adjacent to each other. Thus, according to reference Court, the acquired fields and fields in sale instances are situated in the same vicinity and appeared to be of same quality as to fertility and other factors.

10. Needless to say, the market value of compensation in respect of acquired land is to be reckoned on the date of publication of Notification under Section 4 of the said Act. The sale instance (Index-II) of Mouza Borgaon is of dated 21st December, 1998 whereas the Notification under Section 4 of the said Act is of 11th September, 1998. Moreover, mouza Borgaon is also adjacent to the Mubarakpur. This being so, the learned reference Court was justified in taking into consideration the sale instance of mouza Borgaon (Exh.26) dated 21st December, 1998 to be nearer and comparable to the acquired lands. The learned reference Court besides that has also taking into consideration the shape, level, fertility and quality of the land covered by the sale instance as well as facilities available therein and acquired lands were similar. On the basis of these materials, the learned reference Court gave finding that the Land Acquisition Officer had not taken into consideration the prevailing sale instances in the vicinity. There is nothing wrong in the said observation.

11. That being so and the fact that as the acquired lands were perennially and seasonally irrigated lands, the learned reference Court was of the opinion that the amount of compensation would be double and one and half time of the dry crop land. Therefore, the learned reference Court held that the claimant is liable to seek compensation at the rate of Rs.2,00,000/- per hector for lands of Survey No. 28, admeasuring 1.98 H.R., Survey No.74, admeasuring 2.43 H.R., Survey No.75, admeasuring 1.52 H.R. and Rs.1,50,000/- per hector for land Survey No. 30 are 1.44 H.R. being perennially irrigated and seasonally irrigated lands. I do not find any infirmity in the findings of the learned reference Court.

12. As far as trees in the acquired lands are concerned, the material on record would show that besides the orange trees, the respondent No.1 herein had other fruit bearing trees, however, the respondent claimed at the rate of Rs.7,870/- per orange tree. In support of his claim, he also examined A.W.2-Subhash Tayade (Exh.47) Horticulturist. On the basis of evidence of A.W.2 and keeping in mind the aspect of natural calamities, the learned reference Court was pleased to grant

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compensation for orange trees in various survey numbers in a tabular form given in para 34 of the impugned Judgment and Award. It is pertinent to note that no rebuttal evidence was offered from the side of appellant or any evidence was offered to substantiate the correct valuation of the orange trees. Therefore, the said findings qua the orange trees can not be disturbed. 13. From the above, I hold that all the necessary oral and documentary evidence are duly taken into consideration while passing the Award by the learned reference Court, which does not require any interference at the hands of this Court. 14. For the aforesaid reasons, I pass the following order. ORDER First Appeal No. 24 of 2017 is dismissed. However, there shall be no order as to costs.