21 April 1992
Supreme Court


Case number: Appeal Civil 1711 of 1992








CITATION:  1992 AIR 1406            1992 SCR  (2) 615  1992 SCC  (3)  67        JT 1992 (4)     1  1992 SCALE  (1)928

ACT:             Land Acquisition Act, 1894 :      Sections 4,6,11,15,18,23,24,25,50 and 54-Land  acquisi- tion for Company (Food Corporation of India)-Award-Reference court  holding  company’s  reference  barred  under  Section 50(2)-Reference of claimants-Company keen contestant-Compen- sation enhanced-Appeals by Company-Whether maintainable.      Compensation-Determination  of -Factors for  considera- tion.      Constitution of India, 1950:      Article  136-Land-Acquisition of_Award_Reference  court enhancing compensation-High Court upholding enhancement  but on  different grounds-Supreme Court-When can  interfere  and modify compensation.

HEADNOTE:      The  State of Punjab acquired for the Food  Corporation of  India  (F.C.I.), land measuring a little over  50  acres situated  in  the revenue estate of  village  Danewala  near malout  town in District Faridkot. Notifications under  sec- tions 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 were  issued on  20.12.1977. The District Collector awarded  compensation at  the rate of Rs.30,000 per acre and below,  according  to the  quality of land. Both, the land owners and the  F.C.I., moved for reference under section 18 of the Act.      The  reference court held the references by the  F.C.I. barred  under the proviso to section 50 (2) of the  Act.  As regards the references of the land owners, the court  relied on  two  instances of sale, Ext.A-23 dated 6.6.1979  at  the rate of Rs. 1.20,000 per acre and Ext. A-16 dated  30.6.1981 at  the rate of Rs. 2,40,000 per acre. The court  considered the sale Ext-A--23 closer in time and situation to the  land acquired, and fixed the compensation at the uniform rate  of Rs.1,20,000 per acre. It also held that the two                                                        616 sale instances Exts.A-16 and A-23 revealed the average price of  Rs. 1,80,000 per acre and since those transactions  took place  after the notification under s.4 1/3 of  the  average price  was to be deducted towards roads and parks, and  thus market  value would again come to Rs.1,20,000 per  acre.  It also awarded 30% solatium and statutory interest.



    Two sets of appeals one by the claimant for enhancement of  compensation  and the other by F.C.I. for  reduction  of compensation  were filed before the High  Court. The  Single judge  dismissed all the appeals and affirmed the  compensa- tion awarded by the court below. He concluded that since the land under sale instance Ext.A-24 at the rate of Rs.1,40,000 had a better access, the compensation for the land  acquired was  rightly  fixed at the rate of Rs.  1,20,000  per  acre. Consequent Letters Patent Appeals by the F.C.I. and the land owners were also dismissed by the Division Bench. It  relied on  sale instances Ex.A.11 dated 18.12.1978 at the  rate  of Rs.96,800 per acre and Ext. A-23 dated 6.6.1979 at the  rate of Rs. 1,20,000 per acre, and upheld the compensation award- ed by the courts below. The F.C.I. and the claimants further appealed to this court by special leave.      The  land owners, besides challenging the judgments  of the  courts  below  on merits , also  raised  a  preliminary objection to maintainability of the appeals by F.C.I. It was contended  that  in view of proviso to s.50(2) of  the  Land Acquisition Act, Which debars the local authority or company from  demanding reference under s.18, the F.C.I.  could  not file appeals against the award of the court.      Allowing the appeals of the F.C.I. and dismissing those of the land owners, this Court.      HELD:  1.1.  Food  Corporation  of  India  was  a  keen contestant  before the reference court. Having suffered  the award from the court, it had the right to  file an appeal to the High Court under s.54 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. [p.622 c]      1.2  Limitation on the right of the F.C.I. to ask for a reference  under  s.18  only meant that it  could  not  seek reduction  of compensation as awarded by the  Collector  be- cause  it  was an offer by the State. Section.25 is  also  a pointer  to the effect that compensation can in no event  be less  than the amount awarded by the Collector.  Conversely, subject  to provisions of s.25, there being no bar  for  en- hancement of compensation                                                        617 from  the sum awarded by the Collector, the appeals  of  the F.C.I  in  the very nature of things,  attacked  the  amount awarded  by the court over and above the amount  awarded  by the Collector. [p.622 D-E]      1.3. In the references sought by the land owners,  they themselves  impleaded the F.C.I. and the State of Punjab  as contesting  parties. No objection was made before  the  High Court with regard to maintainability of appeals referred  by the  F.C.I. Besides, in presence of the power of this  Court to permit any person to appeal, as envisaged by Article  136 of  the Constitution, the objection cannot be allowed to  be raised for the first time at such a belated stage. [pp.  622 C; F-G]      2.1.  This  Court  as the last court  of  appeal,  will ordinarily  not interfere in an award granting  compensation unless  there  is something to show not merely that  on  the balance  of  evidence it is possible to  reach  a  different conclusion,  but that the judgement cannot be  supported  by reason  of a wrong application of principle or because  some important point affecting valuation has been over-looked  or misapplied. Besides, generally speaking, the appellate court interferes not when the judgement under appeal is not  right but only when it is shown to be wrong. [p. 627 A-B]      The  Dollar  company, Madras v.  Collector  of  Madras, [1975] 2 S.C.C.730, relied on.      2.2.  In the instant case, important  points  affecting valuation  had been overlooked or misapplied in arriving  at



and sticking to the rate of compensation at Rs.1,20,000  per acre which would require a correction.[p.629 C]      2.3.  While  determining the  amount  of  compensation, market  value of the land on the date of notification  under s.4  must be considered. Court should not treat at par  land situated  on the frontage having special advantage  and  the land  situated in the interior undeveloped area  nor  should they compare smaller plots fetching better price with  large tracts of land. Somewhere in the process, where difficulties crop  up,  the  courts  employ  the  rule  of  thumb,  since compensation has to be assessed and arms cannot be raised in despair. [pp. 621 C-E; 627 C]      Periyar and Pareekanni Rubbers Ltd v. State of  Kerala, A.I.R. 1990 S.C. 2192, relied on.      2.4. Out of the three sale instance Exts.A-11, A-16 and A-23, chosen                                                        618 at one stage or the other by the courts below for considera- tion none exceeded 1/8 of an acre. These plots are nearer to Malout town and are facing G.T. Road. [pp. 623 E; 627 D-F]      2.5.  Sale Ext.A-16 took place about 3-1/2  year  after the date of notification. It, having been discarded at  both stages before the High Court and being used by the reference court only as a supporting material to grant compensation at the  rate  of  Rs.1,20,000 per acre on  the  basis  of  sale Ext.A-23,  should  be totally ruled out  from  consideration because it was too distant in point of time. Having discard- ed  the  same, the supporting foundation  to  maintain  sale price  at  the rate of Rs.1,20,000 per acre  either  on  the basis  of  Ext.A-23 or Ext.A-24, Become shaky  and  open  to question. [p.628 C-F]      2.6.  Sales  Ext.A-11 as well as  Ext.A-23  took  place after a year and a year and half respectively from the  date of  s.4 notification. They are at an  advantageous  position being on the G.T. Road as compared to land under acquisition which has no such access and is of a large area. These sales have as such no positive role to play. If at all, some  role is  due to Ext.A-11, which is closest in point of time,  and distance  wise more close to Malout town, and on account  of its  situation.  It indicates that for a small plot  of  1/2 Kanal  (1/16th  of an acre) at an advantageous  position  on G.T.Road  the rate was Rs.96,000 per acre a year  after  the date of the notification under s.4 [pp.628 F-H; 629 A]      2.7.  In  the  facts and  circumstances  of  the  case, compensation   for  the  land  under  acquisition  must   in comparison  get lower than the price at which sale  Ext.A-11 took place, but at a figure which does not overlook the rate as  given  in award Ext.A-24. The court would now  lift  the thumb and put it to reduce the compensation at Rs.80,000 per acre slicing down 1/6th (roundedly) from the rate reflective from  sale instance Ext.A-11 and 1/3rd from the rate of  Rs. 1,20,000 as deduced from award Ext.A-24, because of the poor locale,  disadvantageous position and lack of contiguity  to the expansion of Malout town due to the obstructing  railway line.  Compensation at the rate of Rs.80,000 per acre  would be just and fair. [p. 629 D-E]      3.1.  The  purpose of the Land Acquisition  Act  is  to empower  the  Government  to acquire land  only  for  public purposes  or for a company, and, where it is for a  company, the  acquisition is subject to provisions of  Part-VII.  The Act  is  neither a tool in the hands of  the  government  to deprive  any  person   of his land without  payment  of  its market value,                                                          619      solatium at the prescribed rate and statutory interest,



nor a bonanza to a land owner whose land has been  acquired, permiting him to get a fanciful inflated price.[p.621 A-B]      3.2  It  is  the  bounden  duty  of  the  court   while ascertaining compensation to see that it is just, not merely to the individual whose property is taken, but to the public which  is to pay for it, even if it be a public  corporation set up for public needs. [p.621 E]

JUDGMENT:      CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION : Civil Appeal Nos.  1711- 1737 of 1992.      From the Judgment and Orders dated 1.4.91 of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in L.P.A Nos. 122, 137,136, 134, 223, 221,  220, 220-A, 219, 218, 214 of 1989, 929/90,  131,  130, 121,  135, 128, 133, 129, 127, 139, 125, 138, 123, 132,  126 and 124 of 1989.      G.L. Sanghi and Y.P. Rao for the Appellants. Rajinder Sachhar, A. Mariarputham and Mrs. Aruna Mathur  for the Respondents.      The judgment of the Court was delivered by PUNCHHI, J. In this batch of 87 matters,19 are special leave petitions preferred by the Food Corporation of India through its District Manager, Faridkot, Punjab, and the remaining by some  claimant-land-owners against the  Food Corporation  of India.  The dispute is about the correct assessment  of  the market value of the land acquired by the state of Punjab for the  Food  Corporation of India. Notice was  issued  to  the contesting  parties indicating to them that the  matter  may finally be disposed of at the notice stage itself  Therefore these have been heard in full.On behalf of the Food Corpora- tion of India, Mr. G.L. Sanghi, Sr. Advocate has been  heard and  Mr.  Rajinder  Sachar, Sr. Advocate  for  the  claimant land-owners. Special leave is granted in all   these matters.      Land  measuring 400 Kanals 12 Marlas (a little over  50 acres)  situated in the revenue estate of village  Danewala, Tehsil  Mukstar, District Faridkot,Punjab, was acquired  for construction  of  food grain  godowns.  Notifications  under Section 4 and 6 were issued simultaneously on the same  day, that  is,  20th December, 1977. The  District  Collector  of Faridkot on January                                                          620 31,1984   awarded   compensation  for  the   acquired   land differentiating between Nehri lands and Barani lands at  the rate  of Rs.30,000 per acre and below. Being not  satisfied, the claimant-land-owners moved the Collector, Faridkot,  for references  under Section 18 of the Act for  enhancement  of compensation. Two references were filed by the Food Corpora- tion of India as well for reduction. The Additional District Judge on receipt of the references went into the matter  and held the references by the Food Corporation of India  barred under  the  Proviso to sub-section(2) of Section 50  of  the Act. In the other references, the Food Corporation of  India as   well   as  State  of  Punjab  were   arrayed   by   the claimant-land-owners  themselves as respondents.  The  Addi- tional  District Judge after examining the matter awarded  a uniform rate of Rs. 1,20,000 per acre for the land acquired, vide his award dated on 13.6.86. Since the matter was  pend- ing  in the Court of the Additional District Judge when  the Land  Acquisition(Amendment)  Act, 1984,  came  into  force, solatium  at the rate of 30% was ordered to be paid  on  the market  value  of  the land. The claimants  were  also  held entitled  to interest at the rate of 12% per annum from  the date of Notification under Section 4 of the Act to the  date



of  the  Award of the Collector or from the date  of  taking possession whichever is earlier,and from the date of  taking possession  till one year thereafter at the rate of  9%  per annum  and  in the rate of 15% per annum from  the  date  of expiry  of  one year from the date of taking  of  possession till payment.      The  appeals of the Food Corporation of India  and  the state of Punjab on the one hand and appeals of the claimant- land-owners on the other, respectively asking for  reduction and enhancement of compensation, were dismissed by a  common judgment by a learned Single Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on August 16,1988. The assessment at the rate  of Rs.1,20,000 per acre was affirmed but on a different reason- ing  than the one adopted by the Additional District  Judge. Likewise,  Letters Patent Appeals by the respective  parties to  a Division bench of the High Court were dismissed  main- taining   the  measure  of  compensation  at  the  rate   of Rs.1,20,000  per acre, still on a different  reasoning  than the one adopted by the learned Single Judge or the Addition- al  District  Judge. Since the reasoning has  differed  from court to court, we became inclined to examine the issue over again and come to a decision regarding the rate of compensa- tion which would be just and equitable in the circumstances, as well as meeting the requirements of law.                                                         621      The  purpose of Land Acquisition Act is to empower  the Government to acquire land only for public purposes or for a company, and, where it is for a company, the acquisition  is subject to the provisions of Part VII. Public purposes being such diverse in nature the Governments of the time have been undertaking large scale acquisitions to promote and  achieve the  common good. The Act is neither a tool in the hands  of the  Government to deprive any person his land without  pay- ment  of its market value, solatium at the  prescribed  rate and statutory interest, nor a bonanza to a land owner  whose land  has  been acquired, permitting him to get  a  fanciful inflated  price. The Act therefore provides a  machinery  to determine  the market value of the land as existing  on  the date of the notification under Section 4 of the Act. Section 15  of  the Act mandates that in determining the  amount  of compensation, the Collector shall be guided by the provision as  contained in Sections 23 and 24. Section 23  contains  a list  of  positives to be taken into account  by  the  court determining compensation. The first requirement is that  the court  must take into consideration the market value of  the land  on  the date of the publication  of  the  Notification under sub- section (1) of Section 4 of the Act. This is  the reason why courts have looked for comparable sales of  lands at  or close to the date of the Notification  under  Section 4(1)  of  the Act to discover a  basis  towards  determining compensation.  Somewhere in the process, where  difficulties crop up, the courts employ the rule of thumb, since  compen- sation  has  to  be assessed and arms cannot  be  raised  in despair.  It is the bounden duty of the court  while  ascer- taining  compensation to see that it is just, not merely  to the  individual whose property is taken, but to  the  public which  is to pay for it; even if it be a public  corporation set up for public needs.      Before we enter into the merits of the case it would be necessary  to  meet a preliminary objection  raised  by  Mr. Sachar  as  to  the maintainability of the  appeals  by  the F.C.I.  The  proviso to sub-section (2) of  Section  50  was pressed  into service, which was employed by the  Additional District Judge to reject the two references under section 18 of the Act sought by the F.C.I It was asserted by Mr. Sachar



that  when the said provision debars the local authority  or company from demanding reference under section 18, it  logi- cally  follows  that it cannot file an  appeal  against  the Award  of  the  Court. The Award of the Court  was  made  on 13.6.86 under the amended provisions of the Act. Section  54 provides  for appeals in proceedings before court.  It  says that  subject to the provisions of the Code of Civil  proce- dure 1908, applicable to appeals from original decrees,                                                         622      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 110 of the  Code  of Civil  Procedure, 1908 and in Order 45 thereof.  Mr.  Sachar had no quarrel with the proposition that an appeal could lie under  Section 54 at the instance of the state of Punjab  or one of its officers. The objection is to the maintainability of the appeals by the F.C.I. for whose purpose the land  was acquired. We are not inclined to agree with Mr. Sachhar  for three reasons. In the first place, it is evident that in the references  sought the claimant-land-owners  themselves  had impleaded  the F.C.I. and the state of Punjab as  contesting Parties.  Before the Additional District Judge,  the  F.C.I. was  a keen contestant. Having suffered the Award  from  the Additional  District  Judge after a grim battle it  had  the right to file an appeal under Section 54 to the High  Court. The  F.C.I.  may not have had the right to ask  a  reference under section 18 but this only meant that it could not  seek reduction  of the compensation as awarded by  the  Collector because  the  award was an offer by the  State  through  the Collector.  Section 25 too is also a pointer to that  effect that the amount of Award by the Collector is kept sacrosanct and compensation can in no event be less than the one award- ed  by the Collector. Conversely, subject to the  provisions of Section 25, there is no bar for enhancement of  compensa- tion  from the sum awarded by the Collector. And when  there is no such bar the appeals of the F.C.I. in the very  nature of  things attack the amount awarded by the court  over  and above  the  amount awarded by the Collector. In  the  second place, such an objection was not raised at any stage in  the proceedings before the Courts below. No effort was made  the claimant-land-owners  to get struck off the F.C.I. as  party in the proceedings before the Additional District Judge.  No objection was made either before the learned Single Judge or before  the Division Bench of the High Court with regard  to the  maintainability of the appeals preferred at  those  two stage  by  the F.C.I. The objection now at such  a   belated stage  cannot be allowed to be raised for the first time  in the  Supreme  Court,  whatever be its merit.  In  the  third place, this court in its discretion under Article 136 of the Constitution, has wide powers to permit any person to appeal from any judgment, decree, determination, sentence or  order in any cause or matter passed or made by any Court or Tribu- nal in the territory of India.                                                         623     The objection raised in either event does not appeal  to as and we accordingly reject it.      As  has  been said earlier the land acquired  is  large area of a little over 50 acres which is within the municipal area of Malout Town, though in the revenue estate of village Danewala. It abuts the railway line on one side across which is the revenue estate of Malout. One and a half years earli-



er  about  70  acres of land was acquired by  the  State  of Punjab vide notification dated 30.6.76 on the other side  of the  railway line for setting up a grain market.  That  land abuted  the  G.T. Road on one side. There is a  tendency  of extension of urbanisation from Malout towards village  Dane- wala.  Evidence has been led to show that on the G.T.  Road, shops have been constructed, petrol pumps, factories,  work- shops  and godowns have come up. Evidence has also been  led to  show  that there is demand of land  for  commercial  and residential purpose on the G.T.Road and near about. The land has been found by the High Court to be neither touching  nor being  accessible  from the G.T. Road. It was shown  in  the revenue  papers to be used for agricultural  purposes.  From these particulars the courts below have come to the  conclu- sion  that  land had potential of urbanisation. We  have  no reason to differ from such view.      Before    the    Additional   District    Judge,    the claimant-land-owners  produced  copies  of  the  sale  deeds Ex.A-6  to A-23 to support their claim which were  tabulated by  the learned Judge in his Award. These are 18 in  number. Significantly,  none  of these sales exceeded one  Kanal  of land.  A  Kanal is 1/8th of an acre. Rather in  the  18  in- stances  only 2 sales were of one kanal each and those  were Ex.A-16  and A-23 which appealed, in one form or the  other, to the courts below. The others were of areas less than even half  a  kanal or even lesser. Apart from the sizes  of  the plots  sold,  the first five sales were  within  the  period starting from 30.3.77 to 16.11.77.  The remaining sales were from  18.12.78 to 11.7.84 The instant acquisition  being  of 20.12.77  the  only sale prior to that date which  could  be relevant in point of time was of 1-1/2 Marla of land (1-1/13 of a Kanal) on 16.11.77 disclosing at its price per acre  at Rs.  15,78,560.  This instance was rightly rejected  by  the Additional  District Judge. The sale next in point of  time, but after 20.12.77, was A-11 dated 20.12.78, and even though the area sold was less than one kanal the price revealed was Rs.96,800  per  acre.  This sale for  whatever  reason,  was overlooked  by  the Additional District  Judge.  Besides  he rejected all the sale instances provided by the State  show- ing market rate                                                      624 far  far below than what was claimed by the  claimants.  He, however,  fell  for two later sales Ex.A-16 and  Ex.A-23  by adopting the following reasoning:-      "So, in these cases, I am inclined to follow the trans- actions  relating to at least one Kanal of land,  thus,  the relevant  transactions are covered by the copies  Exs.  A-16 and A-23 Vide sale deed Ex.A-16, one Kanal of land was  sold for Rs. 30,000 on 30.6.1981 and vide sale deed Ex.A-23,  one Kanal of land was sold for Rs.15,000  on 6.6.79, vide  Ex.A- 23,the  land sold comprised in Khasra No.359 which is  quite close to the acquired land. The Notification under Section 4 of  the Act was issued on 20.12.77 so the transaction  dated 6.6.1979 reveals a proper and appropriate data for determin- ing the market value of the acquired land. This  transaction gives  the  market  value  of  the  land  at  the  rate   of Rs.1,20,000 per acre. The other transaction covered by Ex.A- 16 is dated 30.6.81 and it reveals the price at the rate  of Rs.2,40,000 per acre. The learned counsel for the respondent rightly  submitted that this,   transaction took place  much after  the Notification of acquisition and, thus, it  cannot provide appropriate data for determining the market value of the acquired land. The only relevant transaction relating to at least one kanal of land is dated 6.6.1979 which gives the market  value of Rs.1,20,000 per acre. This transaction,  to



my mind, gives the just and adequate criteria for  determin- ing the market value of the acquired land.          from  another  angle, the market value of  the  ac-          quired  land can be determined by taking into  con-          sideration  the two transactions i.e. Exs.A-16  and          A-23  of one Kanal each as those  two  transactions          took  place after the Notification for  acquisition          and  they reveal the average price of Rs.  1,80,000          per acre. Since these transactions took place after          the Notification under section 4 of the Act, so one          third  of the average price is to be  deducted  to-          wards the road and parks and, thus, after deducting          1/3rd  price,  its  market  value  again  comes  to          Rs.1,20,000 per acre".      When   asked   to  give  Rs.  1,40,000  per   acre   as compensation  as  was given for the land  acquired  for  the grain market in Mandi Malout in the                                                         625      earlier  year  the learned  Additional  District  Judge observed as follows:-          "........the land acquired for the new Grain Market          was  towards Malout town from the railway line.  So          that  very  compensation  cannot  be  appropriately          awarded  for the acquired land in question,  though          never  the less that amount of compensation can  be          taken  in mind while guessing the market  value  of          the acquired land. Since Rs. 1,40,000 per acre  was          awarded  for  the acquired land for the  new  grain          market vide copy Ex.A-24, the land in question  has          equally  the  potential value and is  at  a  little          distance from the G.T.Road and is very close to the          railway  line  and within the municipal  limits  of          Malout,  but it being situated across  the  railway          line, the proper yardstick to determine the  market          value of this land is the transactions Exs.A-16 and          A-23,  which  reveal  the market value  to  be  Rs.          1,20,000  per  acre, as observed  above.  The  land          covered by those transactions is quite close to the          acquired land".      On   that  premises,  the  Additional  District   Judge determined the market value of the land at Rs. 1,20,000  per acre.      Before  the learned Single Judge in the High  Court  in appeal,the claimant-land-owners abandoned reliance on Exs.A- 16  and  A-23.  The learned Singh  Judge  then  observed  as follow:-          " The primary submission of the learned counsel for          the  claimant  appellant while conceding  that  the          sale instances Ex.A-16 and A-23, as relied upon  by          lower court, were not very relevant for the purpose          of  determining  the market value of  the  acquired          land,  is that the sale instances Exs.A-6  to  A-10          provide  the  best possible material to  answer  to          question  posted in the earlier part of  the  judg-          ment".      The  claimants  failed to convince the  learned  single judge to rely upon the sale instances Exs.A-6 to A-10.  With regard  to  award,  Ex.A-24 the learned  judge  observed  as follows:          "It  is  not in dispute that the  land  covered  by          Ex.A-24  (in the light of Exhibit A-1)  lies  along          with Abohar Dabwali road and a railway line  inter-          venes the two blocks of land, i.e., one                                                         626 covered  by  Ex.A-24 and the presently acquired  land.  Thus



apparently  the land covered by Ex.A-24 had a better  access and better potential than the suit land. It appears that  on this account the lower court did not treat the two lands  at par  and thus assessed the market value of the suit land  at Rs.1,20,000  instead  of  Rs.1,40,000 per  acre.  Mr.  Garg. however,  is at pains to urge that this cut deserves  to  be increased further or, in other words, the price of the  suit land  be reduced to about Rs.93,000 per acre by  applying  a cut of about 33% on the rate determined  vide Ex.A-24,  That does  not  appear to be justified. The lower court  has  al- ready, as pointed out above, reduced the rate by Rs.  20,000 per acre".       It is in this manner that the rate of Rs.1,20,000  was stuck to.      In Letters patent Appeal, the Division bench in  varia- tion  of both the reasoning of the courts below observed  as follows:          "On  a consideration of the matter, we are  of  the          view  that  there is no scope for  interference  in          these appeals. The Land Acquisition Court in para 6          of its award has tabulated the instances and a look          at  the  same shows that decision  of  the  learned          Single Judge is well based. Acquisition was made in          December,  1977  whereas instances  A-11  and  A-23          dated  18.12.1978 and 6.6.1979 show that the  price          fetched was Rs.96,800 per acre and Rs.1,20,000  per          acre respectively".      Instance  A-11,  though of a small area,  revealed  the price  at the rate of Rs.96,800 per acre, was closer to  the date of the Notification having taken place a year  thereaf- ter, but earlier than sales A-16 and A-23. Yet the  Division Bench  fell for maintaining the market price at  Rs.1,20,000 by observing as follows:-          "Moreover,  there was another acquisition  slightly          earlier  to  the present acquisition  for  the  new          grain market for which compensation was awarded  by          the  Court  at the rate of Rs. 1,40,000  per  acre.          That  land was situated on Abohar Dabwali road  and          had  higher  potential as compared to the  land  in          question  which is not assessable by road.  Accord-          ingly,  the value at Rs.1,20,000 per acre  for  the          land in dispute has been cor-                                                   627          rectly  assessed by the Land Acquisition Court  and          upheld by the learned Single judge",      This court as the last Court of appeal, will ordinarily not interfere in an award granting compensation unless there is  something  to  show not merely that on  the  balance  of evidence it is possible to reach a different  conclusion,but that  the judgment cannot be supported by reason of a  wrong application  of  principle or because some  important  point affecting  valuation  has  been  overlooked  or  misapplied. Besides, generally speaking, the appellate court  interferes not  when  the judgment under appeal is not right  but  only when  it is shown to be wrong. See in this  connection,  The Dollar  Company, Madras v. Collector of Madras,[1975] 2  SCC 730.  Added  there to are other rules of prudence  that  the courts  do  not treat at par land situated on  the  frontage having special advantage and the land situated in the  inte- rior undeveloped area, or to compare smaller plots  fetching better price with large tracts of land. See in this  connec- tion Periyar and Pareekanni Rubbers Ltd. v. State of Kerala, A.I.R. 1990 S.C. 2192.      Bearing  these  principles in mind, we now  proceed  to examine  the matter. Learned counsel for the  claimant-land-



owners placed before us a plan showing the topography of the area.  We  had the advantage of using it  without  objection from learned counsel of the F.C.I. It is evident that if one comes from Malout towards village Danewala on the G.T. Road, one has first to pass the railway crossing and then go  some distance to reach the plot which is subject -matter of  sale Ex.A-11, facing G.T.Road. Then one has to go further down to reach plot of land covered by sale instance EX. A-16  facing the G.T.Road on the other side. At a short distance  further down  is the plot of land covered by sale  instance  Ex.A-23 again  facing the G.T.Road, almost opposite to land of  sale instance  Ex.A-16. There are the only instances  which  have been  chosen  at one stage or the other  for  consideration. Before  crossing  the railway line lies the large  chunk  of land which was acquired for constructing a grain market  for Malout Mandi having considerable frontage on the G.T.Road It is evidently close to the DAV College. Besides it  surrounds the  office  of  the Market Committee. As  observed  by  the learned Single Judge of the High Court the grain market land covered  by  award Ex.A-24 had a better  access  and  better potential than the land under acquisition. Obviously the two lands could not be treated at par as the market value of the instant  land  cannot be the same. So far there  can  be  no dispute.  Amongst the three sale instances figuring  in  the discussion, sale Ex.A-11 is the closest in point of                                                         628      time having taken place on 18.12.78(about a year  after the  date  of notification under Section 4 of the  Act)  and distance  wise  closest  from the land  acquired  for  grain market,  Malout. This discloses the rate of  Rs.96,800  per- acre,  even  though the area involved is less  than  half  a kanal. Only a plot, sizeable though, intervenes between this plot  and  the land under acquisition . This  sale  instance engaged  the attention of Letters Patent Bench of  the  High Court  and not by any of the two courts below. The  next  in point  of time is sale instance Ex.A-23 showing the rate  of Rs.1,20,000  per acre but the land sold was only one  Kanal. It took place on 6.6.79 about 1x1/2years later than the date of  Section 4 notification. This sale instance  engaged  the attention  of the Additional District Judge and the  letters Patent  Bench  but  was dropped from  consideration  by  the learned   Single   judge   on   the   concession   of    the claimant-land-owners.  Lastly in point of time is  sale  in- stance  Ex.A-16 of 30.6.81 involving one kanal of land,  the rate being Rs.2,40,000 per acre. In point of situation, plot covered under Ex.A-16 is almost opposite to plot covered  by sale Ex.A-23 but slightly towards Malout town. Ex.A-16  took place  two  year after sale Ex.A-23 and as  such  was  about 3x1/2 years after the date of the notification. Sale Ex.A-16 appealed to the Additional District Judge only as a support- ing   material  to  grant  compensation  at  the   rate   of RS.1,20,000  per  acre on the basis of  sale  Ex.A-23.  Sale Ex.A-16 neither appealed to the learned Single Judge nor  to the Letters Patent Bench. Sale Ex.A-16 having been discarded by the learned Single Judge as well as by the Letters Patent Bench  of the High Court and the Additional  District  Judge too  having used it only in a limited way, as  disclosed  in his  reasoning. We feel that sale Ex.A-16 should be  totally ruled  out from consideration because it was too distant  in point of time having taken place 3-1/2 years after the  date of  notification. Having discarded the same  the  supporting foundation to maintain sale price at the rate of Rs.1,20,000 per acre either on the basis of sale instance  Ex.A-23 or on the  basis of award Ex.A-24 become shaky and open  to  ques- tion.



    Now  we have seen sales Ex.A-11 as well as Ex.A-23  are of  very small areas and have taken place a year and a  year and  half respectively from the date of section 4  notifica- tion.  Evidently they are at an advantageous position  being on  the G.T. Road as compared to the land under  acquisition which has no access to the G.T.Road and is of a large  area. These  sales  have as such no positive role to play.  If  at all,  some role is due to sale Ex.A-11, which is closest  in point of time, and distance wise more close to Malout  town, and  on account of its situation. This tells us that  for  a small plot at an advantageous position on the G.T. Road  the rate was Rs. 96,000 per acre                                                        629      a year after the date of the notification under Saction 4. The land under acquisition cannot fetch on any  reasoning the same price as fixed in sale Ex.A-11, because  comparably the  area acquired is large, almost 800 times than the  land sold vide Ex.A-11. So the land acquired has to fetch a price lesser than the price of Rs.96,800 per acre. At this  stage, it  would  be  relevant to mention that in  the  grounds  of appeal  before the High Court,the Food Corporation of  India disclosed its willingness to pay a sum of Rs.80,000 per acre for the land acquired. In the same strand the learned  coun- sel appearing for the F.C.I had projected before the learned Single  Judge that there should be a further cut  to  reduce the  compensation from Rs.1,20,000 per acre to about  93,000 per acre. These statements by themselves are no  concessions and  are  at  best indications of vacillation  to  find  the correct  market  value.  On such  statements  public  purses cannot  be  allowed to open their mouths. Having  regard  to these  conflicting claims we get to the view that  important points affecting valuation had been overlooked or misapplied in  arriving at and sticking to the rate of compensation  at Rs.1,20,000,  Which would require a correction from  us.  We feel  that  in the facts and circumstances of the  case  the compensation must in comparison get lower than the price  at which  sale Ex.A-11 took place, but at a figure  which  does not overlook the rate as given in award Ex.A-24. Now we lift our thumb and put it to reduce the compensation to Rs.80,000 per  acre slicing down 1/6th (roundedly ) from the rate  re- flective from sale instance Ex.A-11 and 1/3rd from the  rate of  Rs. 1,20,000, as deduced from award Ex.A-24, because  of the poor locale, disadvantageous position and lack of conti- guity to the expansion of Malout town due to the obstructing railway  line. In our opinion, compensation at the  rate  of Rs.  80,000 per acre is just and fair in the  circumstances, and we hold so.      Accordingly,  the  appeals of the Food  Corporation  of India  are  allowed, the judgment and decrees  of  the  High Court as well as Award of the Additional District Judge  are modified  to the extent aforementioned; other conditions  of solatium and interest subsisting. The appellant  F.C.I.shall have  its proportionate costs. The appeals of the  claimant- land-owners   appellants are dismissed but with no order  as to costs. R.P. Appeals of F.C.I. Allowed and land owners dismissed