M. Karpaga Vinayagam, C.J.
1. The petitioner Nos. 1 to 20, who belong to four villages, on their behalf and on behalf of 753 land-owners of the said four villages, have filed this writ petition, praying for quashing of the notification issued on 18.11.1993, by the State Government cancelling the earlier notification dated 5.6.1993, issued on the basis of the letter of the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi, dated 30.10.1993 and to restore the notification dated 5.6.1393 issued for appointment of the Arbitrator in respect of all the land-losers under Section 8(1)(b) of the Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act.
2. The short facts are as follows:
The State of Bihar, now Jharkhand, on the requisition of Defence Department, Union of India, acquired a vast track of land in four villages, namely, Sugnu, Garhi, Lal Ganj and Khatanga in the year 1970 for military purposes. The total land measuring 1846.99 acres in the aforesaid four villages had been acquired under Section 7 of the Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act on 30.5.1970. Thereupon, the compensation lad been paid by the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi, to the land-losers. Since the same was insufficient and very low, some of them approached the authority to appoint Arbitrator to determine the correct valuation of the land acquired. Despite that, the authority did not feel inclined to appoint Arbitrator. Hence those land-losers of the four villages in the year 1991 filed four writ petitions for the said relief in the High Court. Accordingly, the High Court, by the orders dated 12.9.1991, 11 10.1991, 31.10.1991 and 11.10.1991, directed the State Government to appoint Arbitrator under Section 8(1)(b) of the aforesaid Act within three months and determine the Quantum of compensation on the basis of the market value relating to the land of the land-losers-petitioners. Accordingly, notification was issued on 18. 12.1992 by the State Government appointing Sri R.C.P. Sinha, Retired Judge of Patna High Court, as an Arbitrator.
Noticing that notification dated 18.12.1992 was only concerned with the land-losers-petitioners of those writ petitions, the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi, sent a letter dated 3.3.1993, requesting the Government to issue another notification for inclusion of the other 753 cases relating to all the land-losers of the aforesaid four villages. Accordingly, notification dated 5.6.1993 war issued modifying the earlier notification dated 18.12.1992 and including 753 cases of land-losers of the aforesaid four villages for determining the rate of the land, which had been acquired. Challenging the said notification, Central Government filed writ petition before the High Court. Hence, the Deputy Commissioner age in sent a letter dated 30.10.1993 requesting for cancellation of the notification dated 5.6.1993, indicating that 5.6.1993 notification referring all the 7 53 cases to the Arbitrator may not be proper since 18.12.1992 notification referring the writ petitioners of the aforesaid four writ petitions alone would be proper as it was at the instance of the High Court order. On the basis of this letter dated 30.10.1993, State Government issued notification dated 18.11.1993, cancelling the notification dated 5.6.1993 and restoring the notification dated 18.12.1992.
Challenging the said notification dated 18.11.1993, the petitioners, 20 in number on their behalf and on behalf of 753 land-losers, have filed this writ petition stating that the amount of compensation paid was not sufficient and therefore, Arbitrator has to determine the market rates of the land belonged to them also.
3. The main points urged by the learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners are as follows:
(i) Cancellation of the notification dated 5.6.1993 by another notification dated 18.11.1993 was made on wrong submission of facts and law by the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi, in his letter dated 30.10.1993.
(ii) Once the reference under Section 8(1)(b) of the aforesaid Act was sent and the same has been acted upon and accordingly the arbitration proceeding was validly started, the State of Bihar cannot cancel the notification dated 5.6.1993.
(iii) When there is no agreement in Form K of the Requisition and Acquisition of Immovable Property Rules, 1953, made between the land-losers and- the competent authority, appointment of Arbitrator is mandatory to fix the market rate.
(iv) When the High Court allowed four writ petitions on 12.9.1991 by directing the State Government to appoint Arbitrator to determine compensation under Section 8(1)(b) of the aforesaid Act, the petitioners, who are similarly situated with that of those petitioners of the said four writ petitions, are also entitled to get the same relief to meet the ends of justice by allowing the Arbitrator to deal with the cases of the petitioners to fix the rate of compensation of their lands.
4. In reply to the above points, both the earned counsel appearing for the State as well as Central Government have filed their respective objections to those submissions. They are as follows:
(I) The petitioners, being the land-losers, were paid compensation earlier. They have not filed any application for appointment of Arbitrator to decide the quantum of compensation either before the authorities or before the Court. As a matter of fact, they accepted the amount of the award without any protest. Therefore, the question of appointment of Arbitrator for their cases does not arise.
(II) The notification dated 18.12.1992 was issued in compliance of the order of the High Court to appoint Arbitrator in the matter of the petitioner of that four writ petitions on the ground that they have received the compensation amount only under protest and immediately thereafter within 15 days of the notification of the award, they requested the competent authority to appoint the Arbitrator. So the appointment of the Arbitrator in pursuance of the order of the High Court through notification dated 18.12.1992 is perfectly valid.
(III) The petitioners have received their share of compensation for their land long years back without any protest. The petitioners have not produced any document to show that they received the compensation under protest and they asked for appointment of Arbitrator. Therefore, the petitioners cannot be equated with that of the petitioners of that four writ petitions.
(IV) Since the irregularities were found in the notification dated 5.6.1993 as to the number of persons for arbitration, the Deputy Commissioner requested the State Government to modify the notification dated 5.6.1993, which was not in consonance with the order of the High Court. Accordingly, the State Government, rectifying the mistake found in the notification dated 5.6.1993, issued the notification dated 18.11.1993 cancelling the notification dated 5.6.1993 and testoring the earlier notification dated 18.12.1992 which was issued in pursuance of the High Court order.
(V) The petitioners have received the compensation of the acquisition in the year 1970 itself. There was no protest. When they came to know that the State Government issued the notification dated 5.6.1993, the petitioners have now filed this writ petition after about 23 years praying for compensation at market rate through the Arbitrator.
(VI) When the assessment had already been made on the acquisition of the land of the land-losers by the competent authority and on the basis of that assessment, money had been disbursed and received by the petitioners without any demur or protest, they cannot be allowed to claim belatedly. Evan if no agreement in Form K had been executed, it is the land-loser who had to approach the competent authority raising objection to the amount of compensation and to make request for appointment of Arbitrator in view of rule 9(5) of the aforesaid Rules, 1953. Admittedly this was not done.
(VII) It is a matter of record that notices were issued to the respective land-losers prior to the acquisition. Some of these land-owners made their objection to the competent authority and most of them made no objection. The objection made by them were duly considered and amount had been fixed and disbursed. Thereafter, the notifications under Section 7(1) of R.A.I.P. Act, 1952, for acquisition of the land in question were published on different dates in the year 1970-71 Since then land were vested absolutely with the Central Government.
5. On the basis of the above grounds, both the counsel for the parties made their elaborate submissions. We have carefully considered those submissions made by the counsel of either of the parties. .
6. It is mainly contended by the petitioners that they are similarly situated with that of the other petitioners on whose behalf four writ petitions were filed and the directions were issued by the High Court to the State Government to appoint Arbitrator to determine the compensation under Section 8(1)(b) of the aforesaid Act and as such, they should also be given opportunity to adjudicate their claim before the Arbitrator in pursuance of the notification dated 5.6.1993 and cancellation of the said notification dated 5.6.1993 by the fresh notification dated 18.11.1993 is wrong.
7. On the other hand, it is the contention of the counsel for the respondents that the petitioners stand on a different footing from that of the petitioners in the earlier writ petitions in which the orders were passed by the High Court for appointment of Arbitrator.
8. In the light of the rival contentions, we have to notice the various features of this case. It is the specific stand of the respondents that the petitioners, being land-losers, were already paid compensation long back and they have not chosen to file any application protesting the quantum and made any prayer for appointment of Arbitrator to decide the quantum of compensation at that time and so they cannot claim compensation through the Arbitrator.
9. There is no dispute in the fact that the notification dated 13.12.1992 was issued in compliance of the order of the High Court to appoint Arbitrator in the matter of the petitioners of the tour writ petitions alone. These writ petitions were disposed of by the High Court mainly on the ground that they received compensation amount under protest as the amount paid was only meagre and within 15 days of the notification of the award, they filed an application requesting the competent authority to appoint Arbitrator to fix the market rate of the land. Thus, it is clear that the appointment of Arbitrator under notification dated 18.12.1992 is on the basis of the order of the High Court on the writ petitions filed by the petitioners who have objected to the rate and prayed the authorities for appointment of Arbitrator within the specified time as provided under the aforesaid Act. Such being the case, it cannot be said that the present petitioner; stand on the similar footing with that of the petitioners in the earlier writ petitions which were already disposed of.
10. It is the specific case of the respondents that the petitioners have already received their share of compensation for their land long years back without any demur or protest. Though this is denied by the petitioners, they have not produced any document to show that they have received compensation under protest and thereafter they asked for appointment of Arbitrator. As a matter of fact, rule 9(5)(i) of the aforesaid Rules, 1953, provides that any objection to be raised Regarding quantum, an application raising objection and requesting for appointment of Arbitrator shall be made within the specified time of 15 days. Admittedly the notification was issued on 5.6.1993 referring to the Arbitrator not only the cases of the petitioners of four writ petitions but also 753 cases without verifying the fact whether they have made protest earlier or asked for appointment of Arbitrator. As such, the State Government, on noticing that the notification dated 5.6.1992 was not in consonance with the order of the High Court, rectified the mistake found in the notification dated 5.6.1993 and issued another notification dated 18.11.1993 restoring the earlier notification referring the cases of the petitioners of the earlier writ petitions alone. This rectification cannot be considered to be wrong especially when there are no documents to show that all 753 land-owners, after receipt of the compensation amount, have objected to the rate and asked for appointment of Arbitrator.
11. It is also noticed that though it is claimed that the petitioners numbering 20 represent all 753 land-losers, there is no legal authority from those land-losers authorizing the petitioners numbering 20 to file the present writ petition.
12. Admittedly after issuance of the notification dated 5.6.1993, only some of the persons out 753 appeared before the Arbitrator and requested the Arbitrator to treat the evidence recorded earlier in other cases to be the evidence of their cases also without filing any claim petition. The arbitration proceedings With regard to 753 cases have never started as there is no claim on their behalf before the Arbitrator.
13. The lands were acquired through the District Land Acquisition Officer, Ranchi, after adopting due process under the provisions of R.A.I.P. Act, 1952, and compensation of the land were paid to the land-owners, which has been mentioned in the letter of the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi.
14. According to the learned Counsel appearing for the Central Government, one of the respondents, it is a matter of record that notices were issued to the land-losers prior to the acquisition and only some of the lard-losers made objection before the competent authority and most of them including the petitioners never made any objection and even the objections made by the land-losers were considered. Thereafter notifications under Section 7(1) of R.A IP. Act, 1952, for acquisition of the lands were published on different dates in the year 1970-71 and since then the lands were vested absolutely with the Central Government.
15. It is also pointed out that the petitioners nowhere mentioned about the nature of their lands and other particulars, such as location etc. in the writ petition and as such, the writ petition is vague and bereft of details. As indicated above, there is no explanation as to how 20 petitioners have got authorization to file writ petition on behalf of other land-losers. Further in absence of any material to show that 753 persons have raised any objection after receipt of compensation and prayed for appointment of Arbitrator either before the authority in time or before the Court, this Court is of the view that it is not proper for this Court to direct the Government to appoint Arbitrator in the cases of the petitioners who cannot be equated with the other petitioners in the earlier writ petitions in which direction was issued for appointment of Arbitrator on various ground. These grounds cannot be made applicable to the petitioners as they have not fulfilled the requirements under law.
16. As pointed out by the learned Counsel appearing for the Central Government, the notification dated 18.11.1993 cancelling the notification dated 5.6.1993, by which notification dated 18.12.1992 was restored, has actually saved the State Exchequer from incurring payment of huge amount on belated claims.
17. It is specifically submitted by the learned Counsel for the respondents that the original notification dated 18.12.1992 has been modified by the notification dated 5.6.1993 by adding to the notification referring all the cases of 753 land-losers without verification of the fact whether they are actually alive or dead and without considering whether they have received compensation or not and if they have received any money, whether it is received under protest filing objection under rule 9(5)(i) of the Rules, 1953 and therefore, in order to rectify those mistakes, the notification dated 18.11.1993 has been correctly and validly issued cancelling the notification dated 5.6.1993.
18. There is no answer to this submission from the counsel for the petitioners. Admittedly the petitioners have not given the nature and details of the lands owned by 753 land-losers; they have also not mentioned as to whether they are actually alive or not; whether they have received money under protest or not and whether they asked for appointment of Arbitrator.
19. When such being the situation, the petitioners cannot now raise objection and ask for appointment of Arbitrator after expiry of 23 years. Admittedly the petitioners have now claimed more compensation only after issuance of the notification dated 5.6.1993 which was issued without verification of the actual facts and not earlier.
20. So from the perusal of the records, the following facts emerge:
(A) 20 petitioners have filed this writ petition without any legal authorization from other land-losers.
(B) The petitioners have not filed any objection or application for appointment of Arbitrator as required under rule 9(5)(;) of the Rules, 1953, within the specified time.
(C) The petitioners have not given any details of stated anything about their own lands, which have been acquired in the present writ petition.
(D) Admittedly the notification dated 5.6.1993 was issued modifying the notification dated 18.12.1992, which was issued only in pursuance of the High Court order. Therefore, the notification dated 5.6.1993 has no sanction of law and is not in consonance with the directions of the High Court.
(E) The lands were acquired in the year 1970-71 under R.A.I.P. Act, 1952, in four villages. The compensation as assessed by the District Land Acquisition Officer, Ranchi, were paid to all the affected persons 20 years back in accordance with the aforesaid Act. It is seen from the letter No. 279(1) dated 30.10.1993 written by Rajiv Kumar, IAS, Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi to the Addl. Secretary Home (Special) Department, Government of Bihar, for de-notifying the aforesaid gazette notification. He stated to the Addl. Secretary Home in the aforesaid letter that acceptance of objections after more than 20 years was a gross violation of law.
(F) The lands were acquired through the District Land Acquisition Officer, Ranchi, after adopting the due process under the provisions of R.A.I.P. Act, 1952, and compensation for the lands were paid to the land-owner and this has already been mentioned in the letter of the Deputy Commissioner, Ranchi. It shows that the requirements of the rule 9(5)(i) of RAIP Rules, 1953, have been complied with.
(G) The petitioners have never raised the point earlier that the competent authority had not entered into an agreement with the land-owners on behalf of the Central Government in Form K. The land-owners of the villages, which comprise of Defence Complex measuring 1846.99 acres, have already received compensation even 20 years back and as indicated above, they have not raised any objection as to the rate of compensation being inadequate or low from the rate admissible at the time of acquisition i.e. on 30.5.1970.
(H) There is no single document filed by the petitioners in this case to establish that they have approached the competent authority earlier regarding their claim for more compensation as per the Act or Rules applicable in this case.
(I) The petitioners, who have received compensation of the acquisition in the year 1970 itself, have woken up only when they came to know that the State Government by mistake published the notification dated 5.6.1993. Even though the petitioners knew that they cannot be equated with that of the petitioners in the writ, petitions who obtained the order of the High Court, they have approached now this Court to make a belated claim.
21. The learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners would cite the following authorities in support of his case:
(Maharaj Himmat Singh and Anr. v. Union of India
(Smt. Seeto Devi and Ors. v. Union of India and
2002 (2) JCR 70 (Jhr.) (Shree Gopal Goenka and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors.)
These decisions would be of no use to the petitioners as the / did not deal with the question raised in this case.
22. On the other hand, the observations of the Supreme Court made in two decisions cited by the respondents are quite relevant, which are as follows:
1995 Supp (4) SCC 660 (Union of India and Ors. v. Munsha and Ors.)
7. What was stated in Hari Krishna Khosla case cannot assist the respondents because the general ratio laid in that case, viz., the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act have no application to the acquisition under the Act and the payment of solatium and interest cannot be fastened since the Act did not provide for payment of interest and solatium, squarely applies to the facts in this case for the reason that there was no laches on the part of the appellants in appointing arbitrator, which was assumed in Hari Krishna Khosla case. We have said about there being no laches in appointment of arbitrator in the case at hand as the obligation to appoint arbitrator arises where the interested person communicates his non-acceptance of the offer enjoined by Sub-rule 5(i) of Rule 9. The requirement of Sub-rule (6) to submit a report to the Central Government where the person to whom offer has been made does not communicate within 15 days, cannot be regarded as requiring the Central Government to appoint arbitrator on knowing about the fact of non-communication of the interest person. According to us, something more is needed to require appointment of arbitrator -the interested person must communicate about his non-acceptance of the offer, which was not done her in the case at hand. in Hari Shankar Khosla case this Court- had assumed laches on the part of the Central Government due to delay of 16 years in appointment of arbitrator. We would not draw such a presumption here.
The above observations would lay down a ratio that unless the interested person communicates his non-acceptance of the offer enjoined by Sub-rule (5)(i) of rule 9, it is not mandatory for the Central Government to appoint Arbitrator. The first requirement for praying for appointment of Arbitrator is that the interested person shall indicate about his non-acceptance. of the offer within the specified time. Admittedly this has not been clone in the present case.
The next decision is (1996) 7 SCC 740 (Union of India and Ors. v. Satyawati (Smt.) and Ors.), the relevant observations of which is as follows:
5. The controversy raised in these cases is squarely covered by the judgment of this Court in Union of India v. Munsha. Following the judgment, we are constrained to hold that since no action has been taken by the claimants in communicating the objections for not accepting the award within the time prescribed under the law, it must be deemed that they have accepted the award. Consequently, the omission to appoint the arbitrator under Section 8(1)(b) the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 read with Rule 9(1) of the Rules made under that Act, is not vitiated by any error of law. The High Court, therefore, was not right in directing in the impugned order the appointment of an arbitrator.
From the above observations, it is clear that the Supreme Court, reiterating the ratio laid down in the decisions reported in 1995 Supp (4) SCC 660, specifically held that when no action has been taken by the claimants in communicating the objection of not accepting the award within the specified time prescribed under the law, it must be deemed that they have accepted the award and consequently the failure to appoint Arbitrator under Section 8(1)(b) of the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 read with Rule 9(1) of the Rules made under that Act, cannot be said to be against law.
23. Under those circumstances, we do not find any me it in the contention urged by the learned Counsel appearing for the petitioners, who have not fulfilled the mandatory requirements to become entitled for claiming more compensation through Arbitrator. Hence, this application is dismissed. However, there is no order as to costs.