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Land Acquisition Act – (i) Whether in a reference made to the Reference Court under section 18 of the Act, the land owner is barred from amending the amount claimed in the reference application and seeking higher compensation; and even if he could seek amendment, whether such application should be made within the period of limitation mentioned in section 18 of the Act? (ii) Where the landowner has sought increase in compensation for only the land, in the application under section 18 of the Act, whether he can seek increase in compensation for the trees or structures also, before the Reference Court?

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 Reportable

 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

 CIVIL APPEAL NO...7784...... OF 2011

 [Arising out of SLP [C] No.20741 of 2009]

Shri Ambya Kalya Mhatre (d) 

Through legal heirs & Ors. ... Appellants

Vs.

The State of Maharashtra ... Respondents

 J U D G M E N T

R.V.RAVEENDRAN, J.

 Leave granted.

2. Lands belonging to Ambya Kalya Mhatre (`A.K.Mhatre' for short, now 

represented by his LRs.) situated at Dapoli village, Panvel taluk, Raigad district, 

bearing Sy. Nos.89/1, 85/1, 27/1, 41/1B, 41/1A, 152/3, 155/7, 18/7, 89/3, 23/2 and 

99/1 in all measuring 1.73.6 Hectares (17360 sq.m.) with a large number of fruit 

bearing trees and a well therein, were acquired for New Bombay project in 

 2

pursuance of preliminary notification dated 3.2.1970 (read with corrigendum dated 

5.9.1970) and final notification dated 29.7.1979. 

3. The special Land Acquisition Officer (for short `the Collector') awarded the 

following compensation by award dated 4.7.1986:

 S.No. Description Market Solatium Additional amount Total

 value (30%) @ 12% per 

 annum

 1. Land ` 24,898.32 ` 7469.49 ` 49,049.69 ` 81,417.50

 2. Trees ` 83,629.00 ` 25,088.70 ` 1,65,586.40 ` 2,74,303.10

 3. Well ` 500.00 ` 150.00 ` 990.00 ` 1,640.00

Possession of the land was taken on 9.9.1986. Not being satisfied with the 

compensation awarded, A.K.Mhatre made an application dated 10.11.1986 under 

section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (`Act' for short) to the Special Land 

Acquisition Officer (also referred as `Collector' or `LAO') seeking a reference to a 

District Court for enhancement of compensation by ` 90,273/- in regard to the 

acquired lands and paid a court fee of ` 1610/- in regard to the increase demanded. 

In pursuance of the said request, a reference was made to the Civil Court by the 

LAO on 25.11.1986. During the pendency of the reference before the reference 

court, A.K. Mhatre died and his legal representatives came on record on 30.9.1988. 

4. The appellants made an application on 13.9.1990 before the Reference Court 

seeking following amendments to the application for reference :

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(i) As against the compensation of ` 24,898.32 for the entire land (at the rate ` 

6500, ` 7000 and ` 7500 per acre for different kinds of land) awarded by the LAO, 

and the compensation claimed at the rate of ` 50,000/- per acre in regard to some of 

the lands, in the application seeking reference, the appellants sought compensation 

of ` 3,47,200/- for the acquired lands measuring 17360 sq.m. (at the rate of Rs.20 

per sq.m.) that is an increase of ` 3,22,302/-. 

(ii) As against the compensation of ` 83,629/- awarded for the trees, the 

appellants sought ` 10,48,400/-, that is an increase of ` 9,64,771/-. (The appellant 

had not sought any increase in regard to trees in the application for reference). 

(iii) As against the compensation of ` 500/- awarded for the well, the appellants 

sought ` 50,000/-, that is an increase of ` 49,500/- (Note: The appellant had not 

sought any increase in regard to the well in the application seeking reference).

The appellants thus sought in all `43,83,959/- towards additional compensation 

with solatium and additional amount. The appellants also paid the additional court 

fee for the increase in the claim. The reason given in the application for 

amendment seeking increase was that A.K. Mhatre was not then in a position to 

pay the court fee on a higher claim, and had therefore restricted the claim for a 

lesser amount in the application for reference. 

5. The said application for amendment was allowed by the Reference Court on 

19.9.1990 and the claims in the reference application were modified as per the 

 4

amendment application. After evidence, the Reference Court by award dated 

2.5.1991, determined the compensation as ` 1,21,520/- (at ` 7/- per sq.m.) for the 

land, ` 4,46,600/- for the trees and ` 2,000/- for the well, with statutory benefits. 

This works out to an increase of `96,631/- for the land, ` 3,62,971/- for the trees 

and ` 1500/- for the well. Both sides were aggrieved by the judgment and award of 

the Reference Court. The appellants filed Ap. No.104/1992 seeking further 

increase and the LAO filed FA No.226/1994 challenging the increase. The appeals 

came up for hearing on different dates before the High Court of Bombay. 

6. The appeal filed by the appellants came up for hearing first. On 4.3.2003, the 

said appeal was allowed in part and the compensation in regard to the land was 

increased to `10 per sq. m., by following its earlier decision in State of 

Maharashtra vs. Tulsiram Krishna Mungaj (FA No.462 of 1990 decided on 

18.7.2001). The claim for increase in regard to the trees and well was rejected.

7. Subsequently the State's appeal came up for hearing before another Bench 

of the High Court and was allowed by the impugned judgment dated 11.11.2008. 

The High Court held that the claim of appellants for enhanced compensation in 

regard to the trees and well, made by amending the application for reference under 

section 18 of the Act was barred by limitation prescribed under section 18 of the 

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Act, as A.K.Mhatre had sought in the application for reference, only increase in 

regard to the land and not in regard to the trees and well. The High Court also held 

that once compensation was awarded for the land, no separate compensation could 

be awarded for the trees. However, the High Court did not disturb the 

compensation that had been awarded by the LAO for the trees and the well, 

apparently in view of section 25 of the Act which provides that the amount 

awarded by the Collector as compensation cannot be reduced by the reference 

court. The High Court therefore set aside the award of additional compensation of 

`3,62,971/- towards the trees and ` 1500/- towards the well awarded by the 

Reference Court. The said judgment is challenged in this appeal by special leave. 

8. On the contentions raised, the following questions arise for our 

consideration:

(i) Whether in a reference made to the Reference Court under section 18 of the 

Act, the land owner is barred from amending the amount claimed in the reference 

application and seeking higher compensation; and even if he could seek 

amendment, whether such application should be made within the period of 

limitation mentioned in section 18 of the Act?

(ii) Where the landowner has sought increase in compensation for only the land, 

in the application under section 18 of the Act, whether he can seek increase in 

compensation for the trees or structures also, before the Reference Court?

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(iii) Where compensation is awarded for the land, whether no compensation can 

be awarded for trees or well separately? 

Re : Questions (i) and (ii)

9. The High Court held that the amendment was barred by limitation on the 

following reasoning :

 "The Award of the Collector was made on 4th July, 1986. The possession of the 

 acquired lands was taken on 9th September, 1986 and the payment of 

 compensation was made on 29th September, 1986. The reference came to be filed 

 within the prescribed period of limitation. However, about four years thereafter, 

 i.e. on 19th September, 1990 the reference was amended for enhancing the claim 

 of compensation for trees and well situate on the land. If the date of amendment 

 of the reference i.e. 19th September, 1990 is to be taken into consideration, the 

 claim for further enhancement made by way of amendment is clearly barred by 

 limitation. Even the respondents do not dispute that if the date of amendment of 

 reference is to be taken into consideration, the claim for enhanced compensation 

 in respect of the trees and well would be barred by limitation. x x x x Ordinarily, 

 amendment of pleadings relates back to the date of filing of the proceedings. 

 However, the proposition cannot be extended to the question of limitation, 

 because despite grant of leave to amend proceedings, the court is duty bound to 

 consider whether the claim is within the prescribed period of limitation, just as the 

 original claim. Therefore, we find no substance in the submission that the 

 appellant ought to have challenged the order of amendment of the reference to 

 enable it to contend that the claim for enhanced compensation is barred by 

 limitation. Since the amendment of the reference for claiming enhanced 

 compensation fort he trees and the well situate on the land does not relate back to 

 the date of filing of the reference, for the purpose of limitation, it must be held 

 that the claim made on 19th September, 1990 is barred by limitation provided 

 under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act."

10. During the pendency of the special leave petition, the issue whether the 

reference court can permit a claimant to amend his claim so as to increase the 

compensation claimed, came up for consideration before a Full Court of the 

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Bombay High Court in State of Maharashtra v. Sitaram Narayan Patil [2010 (2) 

Mh.L.J. 387]. The Full Court overruled the impugned judgment dated 11.11.2008 

(which is reported in State of Maharashtra vs. Ambya Kalya Mhatre- 2009 (1) 

Mh.LJ 781) and held that a claimant whose land is acquired, can be allowed to 

amend his claim application so as to enhance the compensation claimed in an 

application for reference under section 18 of the Act and that the "amendment to 

increase the compensation claimed in the application for reference under section 18 

of the Act can be allowed before the Reference Court as well as at the stage of an 

Appeal in the High Court arising out of the decision of the Reference Court." The 

Full Court further held that while granting an amendment so as to enhance the 

claim for compensation, the general principles for considering an application for 

amendment made under Order 6 Rule 17 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 

would be applicable. The Full Bench arrived at the said findings on the following 

reasoning :

 "Section 18 can be invoked by any person interested who has not accepted the 

 award. He may by written application to the Collector require that the matter be 

 referred by Collector for determination of the Court and his objections are of the 

 nature specified in section 18(1). Sub-section 2 of section 18 states that the 

 application which is to be made in writing shall state the grounds on which the 

 objections to the Award is raised. On receipt of this application, under section 19, 

 while making a reference, the Collector shall state for the opinion of the Court in 

 writing under his hand, the particulars of the case, .... Sub-clause (d) of section 

 19(1) states that if the objection be to the amount of compensation, the grounds on 

 which the amount of compensation is determined. Thus, the Collector in his 

 statement to the Court gives an opinion in writing under his hand about the 

 grounds on which the amount of compensation was determined by him...... 

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 Under the scheme of section 18 of the Act, the reference is required to be filed 

 within a period of limitation. The period of limitation depending upon the facts of 

 a given case would be six weeks to six months. Six months being outer limit, in 

 either of the events, when the applicant was present before the Collector at the 

 time when the award was made or when he was served with notice under sub-

 section (2) of section 12 of the Act. It is now fairly a settled law that this specific 

 period of limitation is mandatory and is not flexible. As stated above, in order to 

 refer the matter before the Collector for determination to the Court, the claimant 

 is required to raise objections regarding the amount of compensation. He is not 

 under an obligation to specify the amount of compensation. Once his objection as 

 to the amount of compensation is filed within a prescribed period under sub-

 section (2) of section 18 of the said Act, before the Collector, then the Collector is 

 duty bound to refer the matter to the Court along with his statement as 

 contemplated under section 19 of the said Act. The claimant thereafter, cannot 

 introduce any other objections as contemplated under section 18 of the Act either 

 before the Court or in an appeal under section 54 of the said Act. However, the 

 claimant once take objection to amount of compensation within a prescribed 

 period is at liberty to claim enhancement in the compensation, thereafter."

 (emphasis supplied)

The learned counsel for the respondent contended that the impugned judgment 

dated 11.11.2008 of the High Court lays down the correct legal position and that 

the reasoning in the full bench in Sitaram Narayan Patil is not sound.

11. Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (as amended in Maharashtra) 

relating to reference to court is extracted below :

 "18. Reference to Court.--(1) Any person interested who has not accepted the 

 award (or the amendment thereof) may, by written application to the Collector, 

 require that the matter be referred by the Collector for the determination of the 

 Court, whether his objection be to the measurement of the land, the amount of the 

 compensation, the persons to whom it is payable, or the apportionment of the 

 compensation among the persons interested.

 (2) The application shall state the grounds on which objection to the award (or 

 the amendment) is taken:

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 Provided that every such application shall be made,--

 (a) if the person making it was present or represented before the Collector at the 

 time when he made his award (or the amendment), within six weeks from the 

 date of the Collector's award;

 (b) in other cases, within six weeks of the receipt of the notice from the Collector 

 under section 12, sub-section (2), or within six months from the date of the 

 Collector's award (or the amendment), whichever period shall first expire.

 (3) Any order made by the Collector on an application under this section shall be 

 subject to revision by the High Court, as if the Collector were a court sub-ordinate 

 to the High Court, within the meaning of section 115 of the Code of Civil 

 Procedure, 1908." 

An analysis of section 18 of the Act would show that any person interested who 

does not accept the award can, by written application to the Land Acquisition 

Collector, require the matter to be referred for determination of the court in regard 

to any one of the following matters :

 (a) Objection to the measurement of the land;

 (b) Objection to the amount of compensation;

 (c) Objection as to the persons to whom the compensation is 

 payable; or

 (d) Objection to the apportionment of the compensation among the

 persons interested.

12. The Land Acquisition Collector is not a court. When he determines the 

compensation, he does not adjudicate, but merely makes an offer for the acquired 

land, on behalf of the government. If the land owner considers the amount offered 

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by the Land Acquisition Collector to be inadequate and makes a request within the 

prescribed period, for reference to the civil court under section 18 of the Act, the 

Land Acquisition Collector is bound to refer the matter to the Civil Court for 

determination of the compensation. He has no choice of refusing to make a 

reference, when the request is in time. Neither the act of making an award offering 

compensation nor the act of referring the matter to a civil court for determination 

of compensation at the request of the land owner are judicial functions, but are 

administrative functions. The legal position of an award by the Land Acquisition 

Officer vis-`-vis the proceedings in a reference to the civil court under section 18 

of the Act is explained thus by this Court in Chimanlal Hargovinddas vs. Special 

Land Acquisition Officer, Poona - 1988 (3) SCC 751 :-

 "4. The following factors must be etched on the mental screen :

 (1) A reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act is not an 

 appeal against the award and the court cannot take into account the material relied 

 upon by the Land Acquisition Officer in his award unless the same material is 

 produced and proved before the court.

 (2) So also the award of the Land Acquisition Officer is not to be 

 treated as a judgment of the trial court open or exposed to challenge before the 

 court hearing the reference. It is merely an offer made by the Land Acquisition 

 Officer and the material utilized by him for making his valuation cannot be 

 utilized by the court unless produced and proved before it. It is not the function of 

 the court to sit in appeal against the award, approve or disapprove its reasoning, or 

 correct its error or affirm, modify or reverse the conclusion reached by the Land 

 Acquisition Officer, as if it were an appellate court.

 (3) The court has to treat the reference as an original proceeding 

 before it and determine the market value afresh on the basis of the material 

 produced before it." 

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Sub-section (3) of section 18 of the Act (added in Maharashtra) providing that the 

Land Acquisition Collector shall be deemed to be a court sub-ordinate to the High 

Court, is therefore only for the limited purpose of enabling a revision under section 

115 of the Code to be filed against the order of the Collector under section 18 of 

the Act, and not for any other purpose. 

13. The assumption made by the High Court that when a reference is sought 

objecting to the amount of compensation, the claim for increase will have to be 

frozen with reference to the amount claimed in the application under section 18 of 

the Act and therefore the quantum of the claim cannot subsequently be revised or 

increased is misconceived. Similarly, the assumption that if the claim for increase 

in an application for reference (relating to an acquisition involving a property 

consisting of land, building and trees), was only in regard to the compensation for 

the land, the land owner cannot thereafter make a grievance seeking increase in 

regard to the building or trees in the pleadings before the Reference Court and that 

in such a case, the Reference Court gets the jurisdiction to determine only the 

market value in regard to the land and not in regard to the building and trees, is 

also not correct. Section 18 does not require a land owner objecting to the amount 

of compensation, to make a claim for any specific amount as compensation, nor 

 1

does it require him to state whether the increase in compensation is sought only in 

regard to the land, or land and building, or land, building and trees. A land owner 

can seek reference to civil court, with reference to any one or more of the four 

types of objections permissible under section 18 of the Act, with reference to the 

award. His objection can either be in regard to the measurement of the acquired 

land or in regard to the compensation offered by the Collector or in regard to 

persons to whom it is shown as payable or the apportionment of compensation 

among several claimants. Once the land owner states that he has objection to the 

amount of compensation, and seeks reference to the civil court, the entire issue of 

compensation is open before the Reference Court. Once the claimant satisfies the 

Reference Court that the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer is 

inadequate, the Reference Court proceeds to determine the compensation, with 

reference to the principles in section 23 of the Act. As the Act does not require the 

person aggrieved/landowner to specify the amount of compensation sought, when 

objecting to the amount of compensation and seeking a reference, mentioning of 

the amount of compensation sought is optional. As there is no obligation to specify 

the amount in the application for reference, it can be specified in the claim 

statement filed before the Reference Court. The period of limitation in section 18 

of the Act has nothing to do with specifying the amount of compensation claimed. 

It therefore follows that if the reference is in regard to objection to the amount of 

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compensation, the Reference Court can permit any application for amendment of 

the claim relating to compensation.

14. The High Court has lost sight of the scheme of the Act. When a land is 

acquired, the Land Acquisition Officer makes an offer on behalf of the state 

government, in regard to the compensation. The offer made by the Land 

Acquisition Officer is not an adjudication of the market value or the compensation 

payable to the land owner. When such offer is made, the land owner has the choice 

of either accepting the compensation in full and final satisfaction or to seek a 

reference to the civil court for determination of the amount of compensation. 

Where the land owner does not seek a reference within the time specified in 

section 18 of the Act, he is deemed to have accepted the award and the award of 

the Land Acquisition Officer attains finality under section 12 of the Act. Section 

18 of the Act enables the land owner or person interested to make a written 

application to the Collector requiring his objection to the award, to be referred for 

determination by the court. In the application, he has to state whether his objection 

is in regard to measurement, quantum of compensation, persons entitled to 

compensation, or apportionment. He is also required to state the grounds on which 

the objection to the award, is taken. But the section does not require the land owner 

while seeking a reference, to specify the quantum of compensation demanded by 

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him. Section 18 merely requires a land owner who has an objection to the amount 

of compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer to require the matter to 

be referred to reference court for determination of compensation by specifying the 

grounds of objections to the award. 

15. Section 19 of the Act provides that on receipt of the application seeking 

reference made in accordance with section 18 of the Act, the Collector is required 

to make the reference by forwarding the application for reference (or a copy 

thereof) with his statement setting out the grounds on which the amount of 

compensation was determined by him. Section 19 is extracted below :

 "19. Collector's statement to the Court.--(1) In making the reference, the 

 Collector shall state, for the information of the Court, in writing under his hand, --

 (a) the situation and extent of the land, with particulars of any trees, buildings or 

 standing crops thereon;

 (b) the names of the persons whom he has reason to think interested in such land;

 (c) the amount awarded for damages and paid or tendered under sections 5 and 

 17, or either of them, and the amount of compensation awarded under section 

 11;

 (cc) the amount paid or deposited under sub-section (3A) or section 17; and

 (d) if the objection be to the amount of the compensation, the grounds on 

 which the amount of compensation was determined.

 (2) To the said statement, shall be attached a Schedule giving the particulars of 

 the notices served upon, and of the statements in writing made or delivered by, the 

 parties interested, respectively."

 (emphasis supplied)

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When the reference is received, the court causes notice specifying the date of 

hearing for determining the objection of the land owner/person aggrieved (section 

20 of the Act). The Reference Court has to call upon the claimants to file their 

statement of claim and call upon the Collector to file his objections to the claim 

statement and then proceed with the matter. Where the application under section 18 

contains the necessary particulars, the Reference Court may treat the application 

for reference under section 18 and the Collector's statement under section 19 of the 

Act as the pleadings. The land owner is entitled to specify the amounts claimed by 

him as compensation and the heads of compensation for the first time in such claim 

statement before the Reference Court. He can also file an application amending the 

claim. What is not permitted after the expiry of the period of limitation specified in 

section 18 of the Act, is changing the nature of objections from one category to 

another. If the reference had been sought with reference to objection to amount of 

compensation, the land owner cannot after the period of limitation, seek 

amendment to change the claim as objection to measurement or objection to 

apportionment. 

16. A land owner, particularly a rural agriculturist, when he loses the land may 

not know the exact value of his land as on the date of the notification under section 

4(1) of the Act. When he seeks reference he may be dissatisfied with the quantum 

 1

of compensation but may not really know the actual market value. Many a time 

there may not be comparable sales, and even the courts face difficulty in assessing 

the compensation. There is no reason why a land owner who has lost his land, 

should not get the real market value of the land and should be restricted by 

technicalities to some provisional amount he had indicated while seeking the 

reference. As noticed above, the Act does not require him to specify the quantum 

and all that he is required to say is that he is not satisfied with the compensation 

awarded and specify generally the grounds of objection to the award. Under the 

scheme of the Act, it is for the court to determine the market value. The 

compensation depends upon the market value established by evidence and does not 

depend upon what the land owner thinks is the value of his land. If he has an 

exaggerated notion of the value of the land, he is not going to get such amount, but 

is going to get the actual market value. Similarly if the land owner is under an 

erroneous low opinion about the market value of his land and out of ignorance 

claims lesser amount, that can not be held against him to award an amount which is 

lesser than the market value. When the Act does not require the land owner to 

specify the amount of compensation, but he voluntarily mentions some amounts, 

and subsequently, if the market value is found to be more than what was claimed, 

the land owner should get the actual market value. We fail to see why the land 

owner should get an amount less than the market value, as compensation. 

 1

Consequently, it follows that if the land owner seeks amendment of his claim, he 

should be permitted to amend the claim as and when he comes to know about the 

true market value. When the Act is silent in regard to these matters, to impose any 

condition to the detriment of an innocent and ignorant land owner who has lost his 

land, would be wholly unjust. 

17. The Collector making the offer of compensation on behalf of the state is 

expected to be fair and reasonable. He is required to offer compensation based on 

the market value. Unfortunately Collectors invariably offer an amount far less than 

the real market value, by erring on the safer side, thereby driving the land owner 

first to seek a reference and prove the market value before the reference court and 

then approach the High Court and many a time this Court, if he does not get 

adequate compensation. In most land acquisitions, the land acquired is the only 

source of his livelihood of the land owner. If the compensation as offered by the 

Collector is very low, he cannot buy any alternative land. By the time he fights and 

gets the full market value, most of the amount would have been spent in litigation 

and living expenses and the price of lands would have appreciated enormously, 

making it impossible to buy an alternative land. As a result, the land owner seldom 

has a chance of acquiring a similar land or an equal area of similar land. It would 

be adding insult to injury, if the land owner should be tied down to a lesser value 

 1

claimed by him in the reference application, even though he was not required by 

law to mention the amount of compensation when seeking reference. The Act 

contemplates the land owner getting the market value as compensation and no 

technicalities should come in the way of the land owner getting such market value 

as compensation. 

18. It is relevant to notice the definition of land in section 3(a) of the Act. It 

provides that the expression "land" includes benefits to arise out of land, and 

things attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything attached to the 

earth. Therefore when the Act refers to acquisition of `land', the reference is not 

only to land but also to land, building, trees and anything attached to the earth. In 

the absence of any restriction in section 18 of the Act, and the respective roles 

assigned by the Act to the Land Acquisition Collector and the Reference Court in 

the context of making a reference and determining the compensation, we are of the 

view that once the reference is made in regard to amount of compensation, the 

Reference Court will have complete jurisdiction to decide the compensation for the 

land, buildings and trees and other appurtenances. The Reference Court will also 

have the power to entertain any application for increasing the compensation under 

whatever head. The fact that the landowner had sought increase only in regard to 

 1

the land in the application for reference, will not come in the way of the landowner 

seeking increase even in regard to trees or structures, before the Reference Court.

19. We are conscious of the fact that the State of Maharashtra has a special 

provision in the Bombay Court Fees Act, 1959 (Entry 15 in Schedule I) which 

requires every claimant who makes an application to the Collector for a reference 

to court under section 18 of the Act to pay one half the ad valorem fee on the 

difference between the amount awarded by the Collector and the amount claimed 

by the claimant. Thus the application under section 18 objecting to the 

compensation by implication is required to disclose the amount of compensation 

sought and pay court fee on the increase sought. But this is only a requirement in 

regard to the Court Fees Act. This only means that if the claim is amended later, 

additional court fee may have to be paid. This requirement under the Court Fees 

Act cannot be read as a requirement under the Land Acquisition Act. So long as 

Land Acquisition Act is not amended to require the person aggrieved to specify the 

amount of compensation claimed by him in the reference application, the bar of 

limitation will not apply even if the amount is specified in the application for 

reference and subsequently a higher amount is sought by way of amendment. 

20. We therefore hold that the time limit under section 18 of the Act is only for 

seeking the reference by raising the objection to the amount of compensation or 

 2

any of the other three objections. The land owner or persons aggrieved will have to 

give only the nature of objection to the award, that is whether it is with reference to 

measurement or compensation or person to whom it is payable or apportionment, 

and briefly mention the grounds in support of it. Though the land owner can give 

the details of his claim and quantum, he is not bound to do so. When the reference 

is made, he can give the particulars of the claim for compensation or additional 

particulars or even increase the claim. 

Re : Question (iii)

21. The High Court has also held that once the compensation is awarded for the 

land, there cannot be additional or separate compensation for the trees. For this 

purpose, the High Court has relied upon the following observations of this Court in 

State of Haryana vs. Gurcharan Singh - 1995 Supp (2) SCC 637 : 

 "It is settled law that the Collector or the court who determines the compensation 

 for the land as well as fruit bearing trees cannot determine them separately. The 

 compensation is to the value of the acquired land. The market value is determined 

 on the basis of the yield. Then necessarily applying suitable multiplier, the 

 compensation needs to be awarded. Under no circumstances the court should 

 allow the compensation on the basis of the nature of the land as well as fruit-

 bearing trees. In other words, market value of the land is determined twice over; 

 once on the basis of the value of the land and again on the basis of the yield got 

 from the fruit-bearing trees. The definition of land includes the benefits which 

 accrue from the land as defined in section 3(a) of the Act. After compensation is 

 determined on the basis of the value of the land as distinct from the income 

 applying suitable multiplier, then the trees would be valued only as firewood and 

 necessary compensation would be given." 

 2

22. We are afraid that the High Court has misread the said decision in regard of 

valuing the land and trees separately. If the land value had been determined with 

reference to the sale statistics or compensation awarded for a nearby vacant land, 

then necessarily, the trees will have to be valued separately. But if the value of the 

land has been determined on the basis of the sale statistics or compensation 

awarded for an orchard, that is land with fruit-bearing trees, then there is no 

question of again adding the value of the trees. Further, if the market value has 

been determined by capitalizing the income with reference to yield, then also the 

question of making any addition either for the land or for the trees separately does 

not arise. In this case, the determination of market value was not with reference to 

the yield. Nor was the determination of market value in regard to the land with 

reference to the value of any orchard but was with reference to vacant agricultural 

land. In the circumstances, the value of the trees could be added to the value of the 

land. 

A suggestion to the State Government 

 2

23. In all other States, ad valorem court-fee is payable only when an appeal is 

filed against the award of the Reference Court, seeking higher compensation and 

not in regard to applications for reference under section 18 of LA Act. Only in 

Maharashtra and Gujarat, the land losers are required to pay half of the ad valorem 

court-fee while seeking reference to the civil court. Most of the land-losers are 

agriculturists. For many of them, the only source of livelihood is taken away by 

acquisition of their lands. Though, the Collector is expected to award 

compensation based on the market value, quite often, it is seen that in actual 

practice, the compensation offered by the Collector is far less than the actual 

market value, thereby forcing the land-losers to seek references to civil court. In 

such cases, the amount awarded by the Collector being comparatively small, the 

requirement to pay ad-valorem court-fee on the application for reference causes 

irreparable hardship, forcing the land loser to seek a lesser increase than what is 

warranted. The State Government may therefore consider giving appropriate relief 

to the land losers by providing for a nominal fixed court-fee, on the application for 

reference, instead of ad valorem court fee. 

24. We therefore allow this appeal, set aside the judgment dated 11.11.2008 of 

the High Court, and remand the matter to the High Court for consideration of the 

 2

appeal on merits. As the matter relates to a 1970 acquisition and the appeal was of 

the year 1994, we request the High Court to dispose of the appeal expeditiously.

 ...............................J.

 (R. V. Raveendran)

 ...............................J.

 (H. L. Gokhale)

New Delhi; ...............................J.September 12, 2011 (Gyan Sudha Misra)

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