A decision is an authority for what it actually decides: final awards passed, under the Land Acquisition Act, not be reopened casually

Jharkhand High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Shree Chandrashekhar, J., dismissed writ petitions filed against the order of the trial judge, whereby petitioner’s application under Section 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, was dismissed.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the executing court has powers to decide rival claims for apportionment of the award after the award has attained finality.

The Court observed that the CPC in its substantive part is not made applicable to the proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act. The Court referred to the Supreme Court judgment of Ambey Devi v. State of Bihar, (1996) 9 SCC 84 wherein it was observed that the scheme of the Land Acquisition Act is inconsistent with the CPC; the Code provides only the procedural format to adjudicate the dispute. The Court further referred to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Kothamasu Kanakarathamma v. State of A.P., AIR 1965 SC 304, wherein it was held that the jurisdiction of the court arises only when a reference is made to it by the Collector under Section 18 or Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act. Further, the court to which reference is made by the collector, cannot go beyond the point of reference by assuming jurisdiction.

The Court held that if a person like petitioneris allowed to raise dispute with regard to apportionment of the award in execution stage then it would enable the Land Acquisition Officer to reopen a final award as against Section 12 of the Land Acquisition Act. An award can only be reopened by the court if an application is made to it under Section 18 of the Act by the collector or if it is challenged under the provisions of Section 54 of the Act. A decision is an authority for what it actually decides. The Court concluded by holding that Section 47 of CPC does not contemplate an enquiry into the disputed questions of title nor can a claim such as the one raised by the petitioner can be adjudicated under it. Claims for partition cannot be entertained by the executing court. Resultantly, the writ petitions were dismissed by the Court. [Shankar Choudhary v. State of Jharkhand,2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 1221, order dated 13-09-2018]

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