(Prayer: This appeal is filed Under Section 54(1) of LA Act, against the judgment and award dated:13.02.2015 passed in LAC No.111/2014 on the file of the Senior Civil Judge and JMFC, RAIBAG, awarding the compensation of Rs.6,17,760/- per acre and etc.,)
1. This appeal is directed against the judgment and award passed by the Senior Civil Judge and JMFC, Raibag, in L.A.C.No.111/2014.
2. Facts in brief are that the respondents 4 and 5 were the owners of land in Sy.No.625/8A and 625/8B measuring 2 acres 12 guntas of Kudachi village, Raibag taluk. The preliminary notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, (for short ‘the Act’) was notified in the Gazette on 16.07.2009 to acquire the said lands. The Special Land Acquisition Officer passed the award dated 24.12.2011 fixing the market value of the acquired lands at Rs.1,64,828/- per acre. Being aggrieved, the claimants preferred reference application. The Reference Court enhanced the
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compensation to Rs.6,17,760/- per acre along with statutory benefits. Being aggrieved, the beneficiary is in appeal.
3. The learned counsel appearing for the appellant would contend that the Reference Court failed to consider the sale transaction mentioned in the award as well as the failure on the part of claimants in not producing the particulars of the sale transaction of their village. The Reference Court taking the yield at 54 tonnes based on Ex.P.4, yield certificate, determined the market value of the acquired lands which is contrary to the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of HIRABAI AND OTHERS VS. LAND ACQUISITION OFFICER-CUM-ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER [(2010) 10 SCC 492). It is further submitted that the Reference Court failed to note the yield of sugarcane which is not more than 40 tonnes per acre at the relevant point of time as revealed from the scientific data given by the Director of Economics and the determination of market value based on such date being upheld by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Hirabai supra, the determination of compensation by the Reference Court is excessive. Thus, the learned counsel submits that the compensation now determined fixing the market value at Rs.6,17,760/- per acre is exorbitant and contrary to the law laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court in the case of Hirabai supra. Learned counsel further placed reliance on the judgment of this Court in M.F.A.No.101132/2015 disposed of on 30.11.2017 to contend that for the lands acquired under the very same notification of the same project, this Court has fixed the market value at Rs.4,61,250/- along with all statutory benefits, interest and costs and as such, the same has to be applied for the present appeal also.
4. Learned counsel Shri Anil Kale appearing for the claimants justifying the judgment and award impugned herein, submitted that the Reference Court has fixed the market value based on the yield certificate and price list produced at Ex.P.4 and Ex.P.5 respectively and the actual market price of the sugar cane excluding cultivation cost and transportation charges. The market value fixed by the Reference Court on capitalization method is in conformity with the division bench judgment of this Court in the case of Karnataka Neeravari Nigam Ltd., Vs. Shoukat and others in M.F.A.No.21965/2010 (DD 03.03.2015). It was argued that the present acquired lands are submerged in the project. These lands were irrigated lands and facilitated with Krishna river and very close to the lands acquired for the UKP project. The fertility of the lands has to be taken into consideration for determining the yield wherein nearly 55 tonnes of sugarcane per acre was grown in the present lands. Considering the price list at Ex.P.5, the average sugarcane yield per acre in the Kudachi village for the year 2007-2008 to 2009-2010, the rate of the market value was fixed at Rs.6,17,760/- per acre. Determination of the market value has to be made based on the nature of the lands and not on the project. Merely on the ground that the compensation was fixed at Rs.3,69,000/- per acre during the year 2005-2006 for the lands acquired for Hipparagi Barrage Project, the same cannot be uniformly applied sans considering the location and the nature of the land. It was argued that even if the compensation now fixed before the Lok Adalath is considered fixing the market value at Rs.3,69,000/- per acre for irrigated lands with statutory benefits, 10% escalation deserves to be extended in fixing the market value for the lands acquired on 16.07.2009. Further, the learned counsel placed reliance on the judgment of this Court in Sudarshan Sangamesh Wall Vs. The Special Land Acquisition Officer and another in M.F.A. No.100384/2015 (DD 08.11.2017) to contend that the claimants are entitled to the escalation of 10% per annum.
5. Heard the learned counsel for the parties and perused the material on record.
6. It is perspicuous from the material on record that the lands in question were acquired by is using preliminary notification under Section 4(1) of the Act, gazetted on 16.07.2009. The Reference Court mainly placing reliance on Ex.P.4 and Ex.P.5, has determined the market value. Ex.P.4 is the yield certificate issued by the Assistant Director of Agriculture, Raibag and Ex.P.5 is the price list issued by the Krishna Sahakari Sakkare Karkhane Niyamit, which discloses that sugarcane yield was 54 tonnes per acre and price was Rs.2,288/- per tone including the cutting and transportation charges.
7. It is beneficial to refer to the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Hirabai’s case wherein it is categorically held that when the yield certificate shown to have been issued by the Assistant Director of Agriculture, but the Assistant Director himself was not examined nor anybody from his office was examined to indicate as to under what circumstances the aforesaid certificate was issued and what is the basis of giving such certificate and also to show what is the method of calculation to arrive at the aforesaid statistics, then it is not safe to rely on such certificates without the author of the said certificate being produced for testing the veracity of the certificate and the contents thereof. It is further observed that while calculating the market value of the land on the basis of capitalization method of valuation, the government document published by the Director of Economics and Statistics pertaining to the relevant year would be a reliable document. However, it remains clear that the Reference Court erred in placing reliance on the certificate issued by the Assistant Director of Agriculture, the author of the said document not being examined to prove the veracity of the document. Hence, determination of market value based on the certificate of Assistant Director without examining the author is perverse and cannot be sustained.
8. Even, if the yield is considered at 45 tonnes in terms of the division bench judgment of this Court in M.F.A.No.21965/2010, the compensation amount would work out on a lesser side considering the average price of three years as per the price list submitted by the claimants marked at Ex.P.5. The market value fixed by the reference Court at Rs.6,17,760/- per acre for the irrigated land appears to be on the higher side.
9. It is brought to the notice of the Court by the learned counsel appearing for the beneficiary that good number of cases are disposed of before the Lok Adalath after settlement, fixing the market value for irrigated land at Rs.3,69,000/- per acre with statutory benefits relating to the year 2004-2005 notification and with 5% escalation per year thereafter for similarly situated lands acquired for Hipparagi project base don the judgment of the Hon’ble Apex Court dismissing SLP No.8107/2016 filed by the beneficiary challenging the order of this Court in M.F.A.No.23768/2013 whereby the market value of acquired lands was fixed at 3,69,000/- along with statutory benefits as far as irrigated lands are concerned.
10. It is hardly required to be recorded that the claimants settling the matter before the Lok Adalath are placed on the same pedestal as that of the claimants contesting the matter before this Court. The nature of the land, the purpose for which the lands were acquired and the situation of the land being identical, same parity has to be maintained amongst such lands acquired.
11. The lands acquired under the same notification dated 16.07.2009 being considered by this Court in M.F.A.No.101132/2015 for the very same project, the market value is fixed at Rs.4,61,250/- per acre for similarly situated irrigated lands where sugarcane was grown. The present acquired lands being similar in all respects to that of the lands considered in M.F.A.No.101132/2015, equal treatment has to be given in order to maintain judicial propriety and discipline. Thus, the endeavour made by the learned counsel for the claimants that the present lands were close to Krishna river and were more fertile deserves more compensation cannot be accepted. Accordingly, this Court deems it proper to fix the market value in terms of the decision rendered in M.F.A.No.101132/2015 at Rs.4,61,250/- per acre along with statutory benefits, interest and costs. In the aforesaid appeal, this Court has fixed the market value base don the market value fixed at 3,69,000/- per acre with statutory benefits relating to the year 2004-2005 notification with 5% escalation per year. The same appears to be justifiable.
12. For the reasons aforesaid, the judgment and award passed by the Reference Court is modified and reduced to Rs.4,61,250/- per acre for the lands acquired in Sy.No.625/8A and 625/8B measuring 2 acres 12 guntas with all statutory benefits, interest and costs.
Appeal stands partly allowed as indicated above.
Award shall be drawn accordingly.