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Sumer Singh & Others v/s Land Acquisition Officer, RIICO Limited Udyog Bhawan, Tilak Marg, Jaipur & Others

    Special Appeal (Civil) No. 7 of 2014
    Decided On, 30 April 2014
    At, High Court of Rajasthan
    By, THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. AMITAVA ROY & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE VEERENDER SINGH SIRADHANA
    For the Appearing Parties: Rajdeepak Rastogi, R.K. Mathur, Senior Advocate assisted by Aditya Mathur, Advocates.


Judgment Text
Amitava Roy, C.J.

1. In impugnment is the judgment and order dated 26.3.2014 passed in S.B. Civil Writ Petition No.8347/2013 instituted by the appellants/writ petitioners, dismissing the same, in the face of the statutory remedy available to them under Section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short, hereafter referred to as 'the Act').

2. We have heard Mr. Rajdeepak Rastogi, learned counsel for the appellants.

3. The summarized version of the pleaded facts is that the appellants claim to be the legal heirs of Brij Lal (since deceased), the original khatedar of land measuring 24 bigha 14 biswa included in old khasra Nos. 297, 302 & 306 (new khasra Nos.630, 631, 632, 633, 634, 635, 640 & 632/779 measuring 6.50 hectares), who during his lifetime, was in possession thereof, whereafter it had devolved on the appellants/writ petitioners. The respondents No.2 to 8 however, as alleged by the appellants/writ petitioners, illegally got their names entered in the revenue records qua the same land, for which they (appellants/writ petitioners) instituted a revenue suit No.168/08 in the court of learned Sub Divisional Officer, Tijara, District Alwar under Sections 88, 89 & 188 of the Rajasthan Tenancy Act, 1955 on 10.4.2008 seeking a declaration and correction of revenue records and also praying for perpetual injunction against the respondents No.2 to 8 & 10.

4. While the suit was pending, a notification was issued under Section 4 of the Act on 20.6.2008 for acquiring land measuring 385.90 hectares, including the land in question, whereafter following the declaration under Section 6 of the Act and completion of the exercise contemplated in Section 9, the concerned Land Acquisition Officer passed an award of Rs. 9,40,18,497/- in respect of the land bearing khasra No.630 to 635, 640 & 632/779. In the proceedings before the Land Acquisition Officer, the appellants/writ petitioners and the respondents No.2 to 8 staked their claims, and noticing that the revenue suit between the parties was pending, the Land Acquisition Officer referred the matter to the court of learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar under Section 31(2) read with Section 18 of the Act for deciding on the issue of payment/apportionment of the amount of compensation for the land involving them. In the proceedings before the learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar, the respondents No.2 to 8 claimed that the concerned land had been purchased by their forefathers from the ancestor of the appellants/writ petitioners, following which, eventually, their names were entered in the revenue records. This assertion however, was denied by the appellants/writ petitioners. Be that as it may, according to the appellants/writ petitioners, though not instructed by them, their learned counsel informed the reference court on 16.3.2013 that they were not inclined to adduce any evidence, and accordingly, it was so recorded.

5. Meanwhile, the revenue suit had been dismissed by the learned Sub Divisional Officer, Tijara, District Alwar on 29.10.2012, as not maintainable by acting on an application filed by the respondents No.2 to 8, as the land involved had been the subject matter of acquisition under the Act. The appellants/writ petitioners, being aggrieved, preferred appeal against the same before the learned Revenue Appellate Authority, Alwar, which, as the progression of events disclose, was dismissed on 19.12.2013. According to the appellants/writ petitioners, they have preferred an appeal against this determination before the learned Board of Revenue, Ajmer, which is still pending.

6. The learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar, by its judgment and order dated 19.3.2013, allowed the reference before it, in favour of the respondents No.2 to 8 adjudging them to be entitled to receive the total amount of Rs. 9,40,18,497/- by rejecting the claim thereto of the appellants/writ petitioners. Against this, the appellants/writ petitioners preferred an appeal under Section 54 of the Act before this Court registered as S.B.Civil Misc. Appeal No.1733/2013 which, on an application filed by them, was dismissed as withdrawn on 19.8.2013. Meanwhile however, the appellants/writ petitioners did institute the above mentioned S.B.Civil Writ Petition No. 8347/2013 during the pendency of the above appeal seeking annulment of the orders dated 16.3.2013 and 19.3.2013 passed by the learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar. This writ petition was admitted and by order dated 24.5.2013 passed therein, the operation of the judgment and order dated 19.3.2013 was kept in abeyance. By the decision dated 26.3.2014 however, this writ petition has been finally dismissed on the ground of availability of statutory remedy under Section 54 of the Act. Records reveal that the application filed by the appellants/writ petitioners to revive S.B.Civil Misc.Appeal No.1733/2013 has since been rejected on 24.4.2014.

7. In the above factual backdrop, Mr. Rastogi has insistently urged that the writ petition having been admitted for hearing, it could not have been dismissed on the ground of availability of alternative remedy under Section 54 of the Act, and thus, on this count alone, the impugned judgment and order is unsustainable in law and is liable to be interfered with. While admitting that before the institution of the writ petition, the appellants/writ petitioners had preferred an appeal against the judgment and order dated 19.3.2013 of the learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar in the proceeding under Section 31(2) read with Section 18 of the Act, and that, the same had been unconditionally withdrawn after the same (writ petition) was entertained and an interim order was passed on 24.5.2013, the learned counsel has maintained that thereby, the appellants/writ petitioners cannot be non-suited in the manner done, and that, in absence of intervention of this appellate forum, they would be rendered remedyless. As the issue with regard to the title of the appellants/writ petitioners' in the land involved is pending scrutiny before the learned Board of Revenue, Ajmer, the intervening events notwithstanding, in the interest of justice, the instant appeals ought to be entertained and the impugned judgment and order dismissing the writ petition, as not maintainable, be interfered with, he maintained.

8. We have examined the pleaded facts as well as the documents in support thereof. The arguments advanced have also received our due consideration.

9. The learned Single Judge, in substance, noticing the relevant facts in details, has concluded that the remedy of appeal under Section 54 of the Act is exclusive and solitary in nature, and thus, it was incumbent on the part of the appellants/writ petitioners to avail the same. The learned Single Judge held the view that the remedy of appeal prescribed under Section 54 of the Act, by no means, could be construed to be an alternative in nature, and thus, the writ petition was not maintainable. Section 54 of the Act, for ready reference, is quoted hereinbelow:-

"54. Appeals in proceedings before Court.- Subject to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), applicable to appeals from original decrees, and notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any enactment for the time being in force, an appeal shall only lie in any proceedings under this Act to the High Court from the award, or from any part of the award, of the Court and from any decree of the High Court passed on such appeal as aforesaid an appeal shall lie to the Supreme Court subject to the provisions contained in section 110of the Code of Civil Procedure , 1908, and in Order XLIV thereof."

10. A bare reading of the text of the above statutory provision would demonstrate, in unequivocal terms, that it provides for an appeal to the High Court from the award, or from any part of the award of the reference court, and from any decree of the High Court passed in such appeal, to the Supreme Court, subject to the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, as referred to therein. The appellants/writ petitioners admittedly, had preferred an appeal against the judgment and order dated 19.3.2013 passed by the learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar, as a reference court, before the institution of S.B.Civil Writ Petition No. 8347/2013 seeking the same relief. As has been observed by the learned Single Judge, in the order dated 24.4.2014 passed in S.B.Civil Misc. Application No.69/2014 filed by the appellants/writ petitioners seeking to revive S.B.Civil Misc.Appeal No.1733/2013, the appellants/writ petitioners did not mention about the factum of filing of the appeal in the writ petition. Following the chain of events, it is apparent that they chose to withdraw the appeal on 19.8.2013, after the writ petition was entertained and interim order was passed on 24.5.2013 staying operation of the judgment and order dated 19.3.2013. The instant appeals, incidentally, have been filed on 28.4.2014 i.e.after 24.4.2014.

11. It is thus, more than apparent that the litigational pursuit of the appellants/writ petitioners has been largely experimental and speculative in nature, and dominantly, convenience based. They have been resorting to trial and error measures qua judicial forums and adjusting their orientations with the orders passed from time to time. The plea that they have been rendered remedyless by the impugned judgment and order therefore, does not weigh with us. Not only, in our comprehension, the remedy of appeal under Section 54 of the Act is the only statutorily prescribed mode of redressal of their grievance against the judgment and order dated 19.3.2013 passed by the learned Civil Judge (Senior Division), Alwar, the very fact that they had initially availed this course, amply testifies their knowledge thereof.

12. Noticeably, to reiterate, they had instituted the writ petition claiming the same relief in S.B.Civil Writ Petition No.8347/2013 without disclosing about the pendency of the appeal. In th

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e singular facts and circumstances, though the said writ petition had been entertained and an interim order was passed, in our opinion, the same could not have been an absolute bar for the learned Single Judge to dismiss it (writ petition), in the face of the legislatively prescribed remedy of appeal under Section 54 of the Act. Though the disinclination of a writ court, in a given fact situation, to exercise its extraordinary powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, is a matter of convenience and a self imposed restraint, and not mandated by rule of law, such discretion has been acknowledged and preserved, even in certain eventualities, where an alternative remedy is not a bar for invocation of such jurisdiction. 13. In the attendant facts and circumstances, we find ourselves in total agreement with the determination made in the impugned judgment and order. We find no merit in the appeals, which are accordingly dismissed. The stay applications also stand rejected. IA No.10482/2014 is disposed. A copy of this order be placed in both the files. Appeals Dismissed.
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