Manmohan Lal Gupta (Dead) Thr. … vs Market Committee Bhikhi on 20 September, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

Manmohan Lal Gupta (Dead) Thr. … vs Market Committee Bhikhi on 20 September, 2021

Author: A.S. Bopanna

Bench: M.R. Shah, A.S. Bopanna

                                                               NON­REPORTABLE

                                     IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                      CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.9207 OF 2012




                         Manmohan Lal Gupta (Dead) Thru Lrs.            .…Appellant(s)


                                                   Versus


                         Market Committee Bhikhi & Ors.            ….Respondent(s)




                                             JUDGMENT

A.S. Bopanna,J.

1. The appellant is before this Court assailing the

judgment dated 15.07.2009 of the High Court of Punjab

and Haryana at Chandigarh, passed in RFA

No.1586/2005. The said appeal was also included in the

common judgment passed by the High Court in RFA
Signature Not Verified

No.2082/2004 and other analogous appeals. Through the
Digitally signed by R
Natarajan
Date: 2021.09.20
17:13:26 IST
Reason:

said judgment the High Court has determined the market

Page 1 of 14
value of the land at Rs.90/­ per sq. yard plus the other

statutory benefits. The said determination of market value

amounts to reduction from what has been determined by

the Additional District Judge, Mansa (hereinafter referred

to as the ‘Reference Court’). The appellant is therefore

claiming to be aggrieved by the judgment impugned

herein.

2. The land, in all measuring 31 acres 1 kanal and 4

marlas was notified for acquisition in order to develop the

new grain market. The preliminary notification under

Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short ‘L.A.

Act’) was issued on 30.11.1992. In the total extent notified

the land measuring 10 kanals 17 marlas comprised in

khewat/khatauni No.123/221 bearing khasra

No.1207/2/2, situate in Bhikhi, beside the Highway from

Bhatinda to Chandigarh, belonging to the appellant was

also included. After following the due process as provided

under Section 5­A of the L.A. Act, the declaration under

Section 6 of the L.A. Act was notified on 24.12.1993. The

Land Acquisition Officer (for short ‘LAO’) through the

award dated 15.01.1996 determined the market value of

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Nehri land at Rs.45019/­ per acre and of Gair mumkin

land at Rs.59378/­ per acre, plus statutory benefits.

3. The appellant as also several other similarly placed

land owners being aggrieved by the market value as

determined by the LAO filed their objection and sought

reference under Section 18 of the L.A. Act. Accordingly,

the consideration for enhancement was referred to the

Reference Court, Mansa. In the proceedings before the

Reference Court, 18 cases including that of the land

belonging to the appellant was taken up for composite

consideration. The evidence that was tendered in the lead

case of Saroj Rani was taken note and a common

determination of the market value was made. In the said

process the Reference Court took into consideration the

sale deed dated 31.05.1995 and also the sale deed dated

03.06.1996 which were marked as Exhibits A­1 and A­2

as the sale exemplars. In that light having taken into

consideration the location of the property concluded that

the market value had not been appropriately fixed by the

LAO. In the said process the Reference Court also took

into consideration that the lands under the subject

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acquisition could be categorised as the land which is

adjacent to the Highway, the lands that are abutting those

lands which are adjacent to the Highway and also the

lands which were situate thereafter. The three categories

were considered as first, second and third lot. Accordingly,

the market value of the land situate in the first lot was

determined at Rs.140/­ per sq. yard, the second lot was

determined at Rs.120/­ per sq. yard and for the third lot

the market value determined was Rs.100/­ per sq. yard.

In addition, the statutory benefits were also ordered to be

paid.

4. The beneficiary of the acquisition, namely, Market

Committee, Bhikhi, District Mansa preferred appeals

before the High Court, among which RFA No.1586/2005

pertained to the appellant herein. In the said appeal the

beneficiary of acquisition had assailed the enhancement of

market value made by the Reference Court. Certain land

owners had also preferred cross appeals seeking further

enhancement of the compensation among which RFA

No.2053/2004 was the appeal filed by the appellants

herein seeking enhancement of the market value.

Page 4 of 14

5. The High Court having clubbed the appeals, on

consideration was of the opinion that the reliance placed

by the Reference Court on the sale deeds which were at

Exhibits A­1 and A­2 was not justified, inasmuch as, the

said sale deeds were relating to transactions subsequent

to the notification for acquisition. On discarding the said

documents the High Court while taking note of the

remaining documents has opined that the sale deed

marked at Exhibits A­17 to A­27 relating to the very

properties under acquisition would be the proper

exemplars to be taken into consideration. In that light, the

sale consideration paid under Exhibit A­22 was taken as

the basis and on arriving at the price per square yard,

added increase at 12 per cent for every year and also

added an additional sum of Rs.12/­ per sq. yard, thereby

arriving at the market value of Rs.90/­ per sq. yard. The

High Court also concluded that the classification of the

properties in question into three lots was not appropriate

since all the lands had the road running beside it and had

the same advantages. Hence, the said determined market

value of Rs.90/­ per sq. yard was made uniformly

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applicable in respect of all the lands which were the

subject matter of the acquisition initiated under the

preliminary notification dated 30.11.1992. The appellant

land losers therefore being aggrieved by the reduction in

market value has filed this appeal.

6. Dr. Romesh Gautam, learned senior counsel

appearing for the appellant referred to the appeal papers

including the judgments passed by the Reference Court as

also the High Court. The contention is that the land

belonging to the appellant is situate adjacent to the main

road which had high commercial potential and as such

the determination as made by the Reference Court itself

was on the lower side, which in fact required further

enhancement. In that situation when the Reference Court

had determined the market value of the land at Rs.140/­

per sq. yard the same ought not to have been reduced by

the High Court, instead it should have been enhanced. It

is contended that it is common knowledge that the value

of immovable property will always appreciate and in such

situation, appropriate market value was required to be

determined by keeping this aspect in view. The land

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belonging to the appellant is Gair mumkin land which was

considered as the land to which higher compensation

than Nehri land was payable, even according to the

determination made by LAO. In such event the market

value now determined by the High Court is on lower side

which calls for interference and if not further

enhancement of the market value from what is determined

by the Reference Court, at least, the award of Reference

Court should be restored.

7. Mr. Jagjit Singh Chhabra, learned counsel appearing

for the beneficiaries of the acquisition seeks to justify the

judgment passed by the High Court. It is contended that

as rightly noticed by the High Court the sale exemplars at

Exhibits A­1 and A­2 relied upon by the Reference Court

related to the sale transactions which were subsequent to

the date of the acquisition notification. The sale

consideration under such documents cannot be the basis

to determine the market value. When there was no other

appropriate exemplar available, the High Court keeping in

view the earlier decisions of this Court has taken into

consideration the very sale deeds under which the land

Page 7 of 14
owners had purchased the lands and has in fact taken

into consideration the appreciation at a higher percentage.

In such event the appellants cannot have any grievance in

this regard. He therefore seeks the dismissal of the above

appeal.

8. In the light of the rival contentions, we have perused

the appeal papers. The nature of consideration made by

the Reference Court would indicate that the Reference

Court has taken into consideration the documents at

Exhibits A­1 and A­2 as the exemplar sale deeds. The sale

consideration under the said documents at Rs.70,000/­

(Rupees seventy thousand only) and Rs.1,44,000/­

(Rupees one lakh forty­four thousand only) was taken

note; keeping in view the extent purchased under the said

sale deeds had worked out the sale consideration at

Rs.400/­ per sq. yard. From the said amount reduction

was made for the difference in time gap and the value was

determined at Rs.140/­, Rs.120/­ and Rs.100/­ per sq.

yard in respect of the three lots of the properties which

had been classified and bifurcated by keeping in view the

location of the property from the main road. Though the

Page 8 of 14
formula adopted to determine market value was justified,

the reliance on the said documents at Exhibits A­1 and A­

2 cannot be sustained since the sale deeds being dated

31.05.1995 and 03.06.1996 had come into existence

much later than 30.11.1992, the date on which the

preliminary notification was issued and the same was

published in the newspapers on 11.12.1992 and

14.12.1992. This Court, in the order dated 13.09.2021

passed in C.A. Nos.3875­3876 of 2009 has referred to the

turbulent period in Punjab prior to 1992 when the land

value had crashed due to exodus. Since the position had

improved only after 1992 the comparison of land value

subsequent thereto to the value prior thereto would not be

appropriate. Therefore, the sale consideration under the

said documents cannot be the basis to determine the

market value of the property in question, for which the

date of the preliminary notification would be relevant.

9. In that view, we are of the opinion that the High

Court was justified in discarding the sale exemplars at

Exhibits A­1 and A­2. Further the High Court having

taken into consideration the nature and location of the

Page 9 of 14
property was also of the opinion that the classification

made by the Reference Court as first, second and third lot

was not justified. When the different items of property in

the different survey number were acquired for the same

purpose of establishing the market yard and as observed

by the High Court since all the lands had the road passing

beside it, a common determination of the market value

was the appropriate course. In that view, the said

observation of the High Court is justified. In that

background, the determination of the market value which

would be applicable to all the lands which were the

subject matter of the acquisition was to be made when the

various land owners had also filed their appeals. The

determination of the common market value which is

applicable to all the lands as made by the High Court is

justified.

10. In that regard to arrive at the appropriate market

value, the High Court having discarded the documents at

Exhibits A­1 and A­2 had taken note of the remaining

documents. In order to rely upon Exhibits A­17 to A­24 as

also Exhibit A­27 i.e., the sale deeds under which the

Page 10 of 14
properties were purchased by the land owners the High

Court has referred to the decision of this Court in The

Dollar Company, Madras vs. Collector of Madras

(1975) 2 SCC 730 and in V. Subrahmanya Rao vs. Land

Acquisition Officer (2004) 10 SCC 640. The said

decisions have been extracted in detail and noted. It is to

be noted that such sale exemplars of the very property in

question would in a normal circumstance be appropriate if

the sale instance is closer to the period of acquisition. In

the case which was referred by the High Court the sale

instances were around ten months prior to the

notification. Be that as it may, in the absence of such sale

instances which were closer to the date of the notification

in the instant case, the High Court has taken guidance

from the decisions of this Court in Shakuntalabai (Smt.)

and Ors. vs. State of Maharashtra (1996) 2 SCC 152

and Om Prakash (Dead) by LRs. & Ors. vs. Union of

India & Anr. (2004) 10 SCC 627 whereunder this Court

had indicated the percentage of appreciation to be

considered per year when earlier sale instances are taken

Page 11 of 14
into consideration and the acquisition notification is of a

subsequent date.

11. It is in that light, the High Court, from the

documents at Exhibits A­17 to A­27 has taken the

document at Exhibit A­22 i.e., a sale deed dated

04.06.1981 whereunder the price paid for the extent of 1

kanal and 9 marlas at Rs.25,000/­ (Rupees twenty­five

thousand only) as the basis. On taking the said price into

consideration, the amount was worked to Rs.1,31,931/­

(Rupees one lakh thirty­one thousand nine hundred and

thirty­one only) per acre, which on being divided would

work out to Rs.34/­ per sq. yard. To the said amount the

High Court has added 12 percent appreciation per year

from 1981 to 1992 and arrived at the market value at

Rs.78/­ per sq. yard. An additional value of Rs.12/­ per

sq. yard was added as escalation by taking note that the

reference to Exhibits A­1 and A­2 would indicate that

there was steep increase of the prices in Punjab after the

situation had improved. Therefore, the total market value

was arrived at Rs.90/­ per sq. yard, in addition to which

the statutory benefits were also ordered. The

Page 12 of 14
consideration as made by the High Court is in accordance

with law, which would not call for interference. The

method followed would indicate that the contentions

raised by the learned senior counsel for the appellant

would stand answered since the location of the property,

the potentiality of the property and appreciation of the

value has been kept in perspective while determining the

market value with reference to the date of notification.

12. In addition to the above, it is also brought to our

notice that one other land owner, namely, Shri Sudesh

Kumar whose appeal bearing RFA No.2092/2004 was also

considered under the same common judgment dated

15.07.2009 impugned herein was before this Court in

SLP(C) No.15535/2010 assailing the very impugned

judgment. This Court by the order dated 29.04.2011 has

dismissed the special leave petition in limine. Further,

though the appeal filed by the appellants herein in RFA

No.2053/2004 (O&M) against the very judgment passed by

the Reference Court dated 20.02.2004 was pending before

the High Court without being tagged with RFA

No.1586/2005 filed by the Market Committee against the

Page 13 of 14
same judgment of the Reference Court, the said RFA

No.2053/2004 has however subsequently been dismissed

by the High Court on 25.05.2015.

13. Therefore, having noted all the above aspects of the

matter we see no reason to interfere with the impugned

judgment dated 15.07.2009 passed by the High Court in

RFA No.1586/2005. Accordingly, the above appeal being

devoid of merit stands dismissed with no order as to costs.

14. Pending application, if any, stands disposed of.

……………………….J.

(M.R. SHAH)

……………………….J.

(A.S. BOPANNA)
New Delhi,
September 20, 2021

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