A claimant in a land acquisition proceeding can get no share of compensation without establishing his title of the land acquired
The present matter was in the context of issue pertaining to dispute as to apportionment of compensation as prescribed under Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (Act). The relevant provision, as held, says that the Reference Court has to perform the function of the court to decide the terms of reference made by the Collector of Land Acquisition, as was the subject matter of present case, to take a decision as to the persons to whom compensation for acquiring the said lands for construction of the National Highway Shillong Bye-Pass or any part thereof was payable.
The Act nowhere provides the provisions for curtailing the powers and jurisdiction of the Reference Court in performing its function to decide as to the persons to whom the compensation or any part thereof is payable. It is the duty of the Judge to whom the Reference Court under Section 30 is made to decide the question of title between all the persons claiming a share in the compensation. Even, when a civil suit has been filed on the question of title, the Land Acquisition (LA) Judge is not competent to stay the proceeding till the decision of the civil court which amount to refusal to exercise his jurisdiction.
The powers and jurisdiction of the LA Judge under Section 18 of the Act of 1894 and those under Section 30 are similar but the LA Judge under Section 18 of the Act has the power to decide a larger number of terms of reference made under Section 18. The jurisdiction under the Act is a special one and is strictly limited by the terms of the sections. In a reference under Section 18 the jurisdiction arises when a specific objection has been taken to the Collector’s award and it is confined to consideration of that objection.
The decision on the reference under the Land Acquisition Act on a question of title operates as res judicata to bar persons who are parties to that decision from agitating their title in separate proceedings. Where a suit relating to title to acquired land and a petition disputing apportionment of the compensation between the same parties with common issues were disposed of by a common judgment, but two separate decrees and no appeal against the decree in suit was filed and the decree in suit has become final, the principles of res judicata bar an appeal from the decree in the petition.
A claimant in a land acquisition proceeding can get no share of compensation without establishing his title of the land acquired and therefore, for deciding as to whether the claimant can get a share of the compensation, the Reference Court under Section 30 has to decide the claim of the claimant i.e. as to whether the claimant can establish his title.
Smek Marboh & Ors. vs. Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council & Ors.
(Meghalaya HC, 31.03.2014)