Supreme Court of India
Murali Alias Dhananjayan vs State Of Kerala on 2 March, 2021Author: Hon’Ble Ms. Malhotra
Bench: Hon’Ble Ms. Malhotra, Ajay Rastogi
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 138 OF 2012
MURALI ALIAS DHANANJAYAN …APPELLANT
STATE OF KERALA …RESPONDENT
J U D G M E N T
INDU MALHOTRA, J.
1. The present Civil Appeal pertains to an area of 30.1 Ares of land
comprising of 28.89 Ares of wet land and 1.21 Ares of dry land situated in Survey
No. 166/5-5 in Cherthala North Village, Kerala owned by the Appellant, which
was acquired vide Notification issued under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition
Act, 1894 on 11.05.1981. The land was acquired for the public purpose of
construction of the Ernakulam-Alappuzha Kayanukulam BG railway line.
2. The land of the father of the Appellant comprised in Survey No. 166/9-A,
as also the land of his brother viz. Sugandhan Sanu comprised in Survey No.
166/1A-4 were acquired by the same Notification.
Signature Not Verified
Digitally signed by
3. Possession of the lands was taken on 09.11.1981. The Land Acquisition
Officer vide Award dated 05.04.1982 determined the compensation of these
lands at Rs. 454 per Are for wet land, and Rs.2,137 per Are for dry land.
On 29.04.1982, the Appellant-landowner was paid an amount of
Rs.18,764.30 towards compensation.
4. The Appellant herein filed Reference Petition bearing L.A.R. No. 23/97
before the Court of Subordinate Judge, Cherthala. Similar Reference Petitions
were filed by the father of the Appellant being L.A.R. No. 25/97, and the brother
of the Appellant being L.A.R. No. 22/97 before the Subordinate Court.
5. The Reference Court vide judgment and order dated 14.03.2001 passed in
L.A.R. No. 25/97 filed by the Appellant’s father, enhanced the compensation to
Rs.8,500 per Are.
6. Subsequently, in Reference Petition being L.A.R. No. 22/97 filed by the
brother-Sugadhan Sanu, the Court of Subordinate Judge, Cherthala placing
reliance on the judgment dated 14.03.2001 passed in the father’s case,
enhanced the compensation for the land of the brother comprising of 22.80 Ares
to Rs.8,500 per Are, after deducting the amount which had already been paid.
The Subordinate Court granted Solatium @ 30% of the amount awarded, and
other benefits under Section 23(1A) and Section 28 of the Land Acquisition Act,
1894, as well as half of the costs incurred in the proceedings. The applicant was
also granted Interest @ 12% p.a. for the period commencing from 11.05.1981 till
09.11.1981, and Interest @ 9% p.a. for a period of one year from 10.11.1981 to
09.11.1982, and thereafter at the rate of 15% p.a. till the date of realisation of the
7. In the case of the Appellant, the Reference Petition being L.A.R. No. 23/97
filed on his behalf was taken up for hearing on 02.08.2001. However, since no
lawyer represented him before the Court, it was recorded that the amount fixed
by the Land Acquisition Officer was adequate, and the Reference was answered
8. Aggrieved by the Order dated 02.08.2001, the Appellant filed I.A. No.
263/2004 seeking restoration of his Reference Petition on the ground that his
counsel could not appear on the date of hearing.
The Reference Court dismissed the Application for restoration of the
9. The Appellant filed W.P. (C) No. 10902/2006 before the Kerala High Court
to challenge the Order of the Reference Court dated 02.08.2001, and the Order
dismissing the Application for Restoration. The High Court vide Order dated
17.10.2007 set aside the Order of the Reference Court dated 02.08.2001, and
restored L.A.R. No. 23/97 to the file of the Court of the Subordinate Judge,
Cherthala. The learned Subordinate Judge was directed to decide the matter
after giving an opportunity of hearing and liberty to adduce evidence to both the
claimant and the Government, and decide it in accordance with law.
10. On remand, the Reference Court vide order dated 28.03.2008 once again
held that the Reference Application was barred by limitation, since it was filed
beyond six months from the date of the knowledge of the Collector’s Award. In
these circumstances, the Court held that it was not bound to answer the
Reference, and declined to answer the same.
11. Aggrieved by the aforesaid Judgment, the present Appellant then filed W.P.
(C) No. 29939/2008 before the High Court of Kerala. The High Court vide the
impugned order held that in the absence of any convincing explanation from the
side of the Appellant regarding the inordinate delay of 15 years, it would not be
proper to interfere with the reasoned order passed by the Subordinate Judge.
12. Aggrieved by the said judgment, the Appellant has filed the present Appeal
before this Court.
We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and perused the
impugned judgment and the documents placed on record.
13. From a perusal of the records, we find that the Reference Court had
awarded an amount of Rs. 8,500 per Are for the lands owned by the father and
brother of the Appellant under the same Notification. The land owned by all three
parties is comprised in the same Survey No. 166.
14. The Reference Petitions in all the three cases were filed by the Appellant,
his father, and his brother contemporaneously in the year 1997, to challenge the
Award passed by the Land Acquisition Officer.
The Appellant relies on Section 28(A) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 to
submit that the Act conferred a right on persons interested whose lands were
acquired by a common Notification, to claim re-determination of the
compensation in accordance with the enhanced compensation awarded by the
Civil Court to other land owners.
15. We find that the Reference Court has not even adverted to the earlier
judgments passed by the same Court in L.A.R. No. 25/1997 filed by the father,
and L.A.R. No. 22/97 filed by the brother of the Appellant, wherein a uniform rate
of Rs. 8,500 per Are was granted. The Reference Court did not hold that the
delay in filing the Reference Petitions in the case of the father and the brother of
the Appellant was a ground to deny them relief. The land belonging to the
Appellant is similarly situated in the same Survey No. 166.
16. We see no reason why the compensation awarded in L.A.R. No. 22/97 and
L.A.R. No. 25/97 is not granted to the present Appellant @ Rs.8,500 per Are for
land which has been acquired under the same Notification dated 11.05.1981.
We consider it appropriate to grant compensation to the Appellant @ Rs.8,500
per Are for the land owned by him. The Appellant is entitled to Solatium @ 30%
of the amount awarded, and other benefits under Section 23(1A) and Section 28
of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, as well as half of the costs incurred in the
proceedings. Appellant is further entitled to Interest at the same rate as awarded
to the claimants in L.A.R. No. 22/97 and L.A.R. No. 25/97 filed at the instance of
the father and brother of the appellant.
17. In the aforesaid terms, the Appeal is allowed with no orders as to costs.
The judgment of the Reference Court as also that of the High Court are set
Pending applications, if any, are disposed of.
MARCH 2, 2021