1. The issues involved in the present appeal suits are one and the same and hence, they are disposed of by this common order.
2. All these appeal suits are filed, challenging the Judgments passed separately with reference to the different Land Acquisition Original Proceedings. Though the judgments are common, the judgments and decrees are delivered independently with reference to the various Land Acquisition Original Proceedings. Thus, this Court is inclined to consider the grounds commonly in respect of the LAOPs.
3. The learned counsel appearing on behalf of the appellants mainly contended that on account of fixation of various amount of compensation in respect of the same acquisition proceedings, the claimants / land losers sustained loss and an injustice is caused to them, despite the fact that the acquisition was done in respect of the same location. The learned counsel for the appellants reiterated that on 24.06.2013, two common Judgments were delivered by the L.A.O.P. Court and in the first Judgment in L.A.O.P.Nos.899 of 1998, etc., the trial Court fixed the compensation at Rs.4,500/- per cent. In fact, the Land Acquisition Officer fixed Rs.200/- per cent, which was enhanced by the Trial Court to Rs.4,500/- per cent. On the same day, on 24.06.2013, another common Judgment was passed by the trial Court in L.A.O.P.Nos.1037 of 1998, etc., It is pertinent to note that the very same Sub Court, Ponneri, passed two different judgments on the same day i.e., on 24.06.2013. In the 2nd judgment, wherein, the compensation fixed by the Land Acquisition Officer was the same i.e., Rs.200/- per cent. However, the trial Court enhanced the sum to Rs.4,750/- per cent. When two common Judgments are delivered in respect of the same acquisition proceedings, two different compensation amount has been arrived by the trial Court. Relying on the said factual position, the learned counsel for the appellants made a submission that the fixation of compensation by the trial Court was improper. In a third set of acquisition proceedings, yet another common Judgment was passed by the Trial Court on 28.10.2014, wherein, the compensation amount was enhanced to Rs.6,540/- per cent. Challenging the said enhancement, the Special Tahsildhar, Land Acquisition, filed Appeal Suits before this Court.
4. A batch of appeals were taken up for hearing and the Hon'ble Division Bench of this Court passed orders, dismissing the appeals filed by the Special Tahsildhar and accordingly, the enhanced compensation fixed by the L.A.O.P. Court was confirmed. A review application was filed by the land losers, which was also dismissed by the Hon'ble Division Bench and the learned counsel for the appellants made a submission that all those appeals were filed by the Special Tahsildhar, Land Acquisition and the land losers have not filed any appeal during the relevant point of time. Thus, they have preferred the present Appeal Suits seeking enhancement of compensation.
5. The learned counsel for the appellants solicited the attention of this Court that the acquired land was in between Rs.4,500/- to Rs.8,720/- and the bottom value was taken into consideration for the purpose of fixing just compensation by the Trial Court. When the Trial Court arrived a conclusion that the just compensation would be Rs.4,750/- in a batch of cases and subsequently, Rs.6,540/- in other set of cases, then the compensation must be awarded uniformly to all the land losers and in the present case, three set of Judgments were delivered fixing three different rates, which caused hot burning issue amongst the land losers as the acquisition was done in respect of the same locality.
6. The learned counsel for the appellants urged this Court that the Hon'ble Division Bench dismissed the appeal filed by the Land Acquisition Officer and during the relevant point of time, they also participated in the adjudication process before the Hon'ble Division Bench and the Hon'ble Division Bench also made an observation that it is not even a case of suo motu enhancement and accordingly, confirmed the Judgment and Decree passed by the L.A.O.P. Court and dismissed the Appeal Suits filed by the Special Tahsildhar, Land Acquisition.
7. Against the Judgment of the Division Bench, one land loser filed a review application and the Division Bench again considered the findings in this regard and made an observation that "the Division Bench declined to grant the relief to the petitioner and other land owners on the ground that there was no cross appeal. However, the Division Bench indicated the legal position that even in the absence of an appeal, it is within the powers of the Appellate Court to enhance the compensation under Order 41 Rule 33 of CPC. Since there is a likelihood of opening a Pandora's box in respect of other cases, the Division Bench declined to grant the relief to the petitioner." Therefore, undoubtedly, the Division Bench had considered these aspects for suo motu enhancement also.
8. Admittedly, the appellants in the present appeal suits had not filed any cross appeal or an appeal suit. The appeal suits filed by the Special Tahsildhar, Land Acquisition were alone heard by the Hon'ble Division Bench. The Hon'ble Division Bench made an observation that there is a likelihood of opening a Pandora's box in respect of other cases in the event of enhancing compensation suo motu under Order 41 Rule 33 of CPC. Therefore, it is not as if the point regarding the enhancement was not considered by the Division Bench. In fact, the element of suo motu was considered by the Division Bench and an observation was made by the Division Bench and consequently, the appeals filed by the Special Tahsildhar, Land Acquisition, are dismissed and even in the review order, the Division Bench reiterated the same.A Special Leave Petition was filed in S.L.P.(Civil) Diary No.21943 of 2018 and the Hon'ble Supreme Court had dismissed the Special Leave Petitions.
9. The learned Special Government Pleader (AS) appearing on behalf of the first respondent disputed the contentions, by stating that the issues are already settled. The Land Acquisition Officer fixed the compensation as Rs.200/- per cent. Thereafter, the land losers approached the L.A.O.P. Court and the compensation was enhanced from Rs.200/- to Rs.4,500/-, Rs.4,750/- and Rs.6,540/- respectively in respect of three batch of acquisition proceedings. All these Judgments became final, as the appeals preferred by the Special Tahsildhar, Land Acquisition were dismissed by the Hon'ble Division Bench and the Division Bench also considered the suo motu enhancement and not granted such enhancement of compensation to the land losers. The review application filed by the land losers was also rejected and the special leave petition filed against that order is also dismissed. This being the factum, the present appeals cannot be entertained at all.
10. The learned counsel for the appellants reiterated that the right of appeal is vested under the statute and therefore, the claim of the appellants for enhancement of compensation is put on merits.
11. This Court is of the considered opinion that when the Hon'ble Division Bench considered suo motu enhancement of compensation, with reference to Order 41 Rule 33 of CPC and declined to grant any such enhancement of compensation, thereafter, this Court cannot consider the very same ground, as the said order was confirmed in a review order and subsequently by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. This apart, the factual inference to be drawn by this Court is during the relevant point of time, when the matter was adjudicated before this Court, none of the land losers preferred any cross appeal or an appeal suit challenging the award of compensation by the L.A.O.P. Court. Apparently, they have contended that they are entitled for enhancement even in such circumstances, the Hon'ble Division Bench considered the case of the land losers for grant of suo motu enhancement and the said ground was also rejected. This being the factum, this Court is of the opinion that this Court cannot take a recourse in respect of the adjudication done by the Hon'ble Division Bench of this Court and the said order is confirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. As observed by the Division Bench of this Court, at this length of time, if these appeal suits are considered for enhancement of compensation, then it will open an Pandora's box and therefore, this Court is not inclined to grant the relief as such sought for.
12. The acquisition proceedings were initiated in the year 1991 and the L.A.O.P. Court passed an order in the year 2013, the Division Bench of this Court also passed an order in the year 2015 and the Hon'ble Supreme Court dismissed the SLP in 2018. The issues regarding the fixation of just and fair compensation, as well as enhancement of compensation to the land losers were considered both by the Hon'ble Division Bench as well as the L.A.O.P. Court. Under these circumstances, the very same ground held by the Division Bench cannot be adjudicated by this Court in an appeal filed by the land losers and they have exhausted their right by participating in the adjudication process before the Division Bench of this Court and their contention for enhancement for compensation was not considered and even the suo motu enhancement was not considered.
13. This Court with reference to A.S.Nos.244 to 250 of 2019 & etc., batch, passed a common order on 13.12.2019. In the said judgment, this Court confirmed the common judgment and decree passed in L.A.O.P.Nos.899 of 1998, etc., dated 24.06.2013, L.A.O.P.Nos.1037 of 1998, etc., dated 24.06.2013 and L.A.O.P.Nos.150 of 1998, etc., dated 28.10.2014. All the common judgment and decree passed are confirmed by this Court. The left out cases from the batch are listed for hearing before this Court on 23.01.2020. At that point of time, the learned counsel for the appellants requested for an adjournment, stating that they are decided to file a SLP before the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. Accordingly, this Court granted adjournment and again, the matter was listed for hearing on 19.02.2020. When the matters are taken up for hearing on 19.02.2020, the learned counsel for the appellants once again made a request to adjourn the matter on the ground that they have filed a SLP and the same is yet to be processed and numbered. This Court is of the considered opinion that the memo filed by the appellants deserves no merit consideration as this Court has already decided the similar issue with reference to the same acquisition proceedings by passing a common judgment on 13.12.2019 in A.S.Nos.244 of 2019 & etc., batch. Thus, this Court is not inclined to grant any adjournment as the issues are already decided by this Court.
14. Accordingly, the judgment and decree passed by the Subordinate Judge, Ponneri in the following LAOP Nos. are confirmed:
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|A.S.No.406/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.511/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|69 ||A.S.No.407/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.539/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|70 ||A.S.No.408/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.528/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|71 ||A.S.No.409/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.521/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|72 ||A.S.No.410/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.1425/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|73 ||A.S.No.411/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.498/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|74 ||A.S.No.413/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.929/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|75 ||A.S.No.414/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.1413/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|76 ||A.S.No.415/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.500/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|77 ||A.S.No.416/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.1412/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|78 ||A.S.No.417/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.924/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|79 ||A.S.No.419/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.549/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|80 ||A.S.No.423/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.763/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|81 ||A.S.No.424/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.522/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|82 ||A.S.No.427/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.767/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
|83 ||A.S.No.428/2019 ||L.A.O.P.No.543/1998 ||24.06.2013 |
15. Consequently, all the Appeal Suits stand dismissed. No costs.