Karnal Improvement Trust, Karnal v. Smt. Parkash Wanti(Dead)
Karnal Improvement Trust, Karnal
Smt. Parkash Wanti(Dead)
(Supreme Court Of India)
Civil Appeal No. 4237 Of 1995 With 4238-44 Of 1995 | 09-05-1995
1. These appeals by special leave arise from the judgments of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana in Letters Patent Appeal No. 1042 of 1990 and batch dated 29th April, 1991. The facts lie in a short compass for deciding the question of law arising for adjudication in these appeals. The appellant framed Scheme No. 37 to improve the existing roads and development of the area in Old Sabzi Mandi, Karnal, and for that purpose a resolution under Section 36 of the Punjab Improvement Trust Act, 1922 (for short `the Act') was passed by the Trust and published on 7th September, 1973. After its sanction by the State Government, notification under Section 45 was published. The Land Acquisition Collector in his award dated 24th May, 1976, granted compensation at the rate of Rs. 100 per square yard. Dissatisfied therewith, the respondents and others sought reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act to the Tribunal constituted in that behalf under the Act. The President of the Tribunal in his awards dated 18th November, 1988 etc. enhanced the compensation in some case to Rs. 1396 per square yard and in some other case to Rs. 450 per square yard etc. Dissatisfied therewith, the appellant as well as the respondents filed writ petitions under Article 226 in the High Court. The single Judge as also the Division Bench, granted compensation at the rate of Rs. 1396 uniformly to all the claimants. Thus these appeals.
2. Shri Verma, learned counsel appearing for the Trust, raised five-fold contentions. The main thrust is the validity of the award made by the President of the Tribunal. Besides, he also challenged the correctness of the amendment of the writ petition claiming enhanced compensation allowed by the High Court, omission to deduct developmental charges; taking irrelevant sale deeds into consideration; omission to consider two relevant sale deeds; and lastly the errors in calculation of the compensation. The counsel for the respondents and some of the parties in person resisted the contentions of the appellants. We have heard both sides primarily on the first question and, therefore, the appellant had not addressed us in full on other points, though respondent sought to support the award on merits. The question is whether the Chairman alone can pass the award under the Act. If the finding would be in favour of the validity, then only the need to go into the other questions would arise. The Division Bench, following the ratio in Sohan Lal v. The State of Haryana and others, 1981 Rev. L.R. 349 and on the doctrine of acquiescence, upheld the validity of the award.
3. In Sohan Lal's case (supra) the High Court in coming to its conclusion that the President alone could make the award under the Act, reasoned that the President holds pivotal position having administrative and judicial experience with the qualifications of eligibility for appointment as a Judge of Punjab and Haryana High Court. He presides over the proceedings. He has power to summon the witnesses, compel the production of documents; he is a Judge under the Act; he holds the proceedings as a Civil Court; he has administrative control over the staff; he has the exclusive power to decide questions of law and title and procedure on which the opinion of the President is final. The assessors are ancillary and practically they are not members of the Tribunal stricto sensu. No qualifications have been prescribed as eligibility for their appointment as assessors. No quorum has been prescribed. They need to hold no previous experience either judicial or administrative. Their attending the enquiry is optional and in the event of their being present and participation their dissent may be relevant. The operation of the statute must be so construed as to avoid inconvenience and hardship to the litigant public.
4. The question, therefore, is whether the view of the High Court is correct in law. Section 58 of the Act states that the ``Tribunal shall be constituted' as provided in Section 60. The Tribunal thus constituted, performs as the functions of the Court in reference to the acquisition to the land for the trust under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short ``the Central Act'). Under section 2(5) Tribunal means a Tribunal constituted under Section 60. Under sub-section (1) of Section 60, the Tribunal ``shall consist of a President and two assessors'. Sub-section (2) prescribes the qualifications of the President who shall be a person qualified for appointment as a Judge of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana. The amendment in this behalf made by the Legislature of Haryana enlarges and includes a person who held the office of a Collector for a period for 10 years or has served as a District Magistrate. Under sub-section (3), the State Government shall be the appointing authority of the President and one assessor. The Municipal Committee concerned shall appoint within two months of their being required by the State Government to make such appointment and on its committing default, the State Government shall appoint the second assessor. The term of office of each member of the Tribunal shall be of two years subject to reappointment. When any person ceases for any reason to be a member of the Tribunal or any member is temporarily absent due to illness or any unavoidable cause, the authority i.e. the State Government or Municipal Committee, as the case may be, shall forthwith appoint a fit person to be a member in his place; with the same rider for default in appointment by the Municipal Committee on expiry of two months thereafter, the State Government would appoint such a member. Under Section 61, each member of the Tribunal shall be entitled to remuneration either by way of monthly salary or fee or partly one of those ways and partly in other as the State Government may prescribe. The member is liable to be removed under Section 10 for the grounds envisaged therein. A trustee of the trust is ineligible for appointment as a member of the Tribunal.
5. Under Section 59, for the purpose of acquiring land under the Central Act for the trust, the Tribunal shall be deemed to be the Court. The President shall be the Judge and shall have power to summon and enforce the attendance of witnesses and to compel the production of documents as a civil court under Civil Procedure Code. The President of the Tribunal may record evidence on any matters in the absence of assessors, unless he considers their presence necessary. On the questions of law and the title and procedure, despite anything contained in clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 65, the decision shall rest solely, as stated in clause (6) with the President and he may try and decide the same in the absence of assessors unless he considers their presence necessary. If there is any disagreement as to the measurement of land or to the amount of compensation or cost to be allowed, the opinion of the majority of members of the Tribunal shall prevail. Under section 59(d), the award of a Tribunal shall be deemed to be the award of the court under the Central Act and shall be final. Under Section 26 of the Central Act, every award shall be deemed to be a decree and the statement of the grounds of every such award, a judgment under Section 2(2) and Section 2(9) of Civil Procedure Code; and every award shall be in writing signed by the Judge specifying the amount awarded under clause (1) of sub- section (1) of section 23 and also the amount, if any, respectively awarded under each of the other clauses of the same sub-section together with the grounds of awarding each of the said amounts. By operation of sub-section (2) of Section 65, the award of the Tribunal and every order made by the Tribunal for the payment of money, shall be enforced by the Court of Small Causes or in its absence by the Senior Sub Judge within local limits of whose jurisdiction it was made as if it were a decree of that Court.
6. A conspectus of the above provisions would give us unerring indication of the legislative animation that the Tribunal shall consist of three members, namely, the President and two assessors and each is co-existent with the others. The Tribunal is a civil court and the President is the presiding Judge of the court. Being a judicial member, undoubtedly, he has been conferred with power to preside over the Tribunal, summon the witnesses, secure the evidence and decide on questions of law and title and procedure. If he considers necessary he may also do so in association with other members. Even in matters of procedure to a limited extent, namely, in summoning the witnesses who would be competent or necessary or material witnesses to unfold the measurement of the land or the value thereof, the views of the assessor-members may be relevant, germane and sometimes necessary, as being local persons. It is true that no qualifications have been prescribed for appointment of an assessor, while qualifications for the member-President stood prescribed. The reason appears to be that the assessor being a local member, obviously, having had personal knowledge of the local conditions of the land and its prevailing value, the legislature appears to have intended that opinion of men of common experience, perhaps, would be more appropriate to determine compensation. That would not elevate the position of the President to be pivotal and relegate the assessor to be adjuncts or ancillary to the President. If it were to be otherwise, the legislature would have employed the language that the President, with the assistance of the assessors, would determine the compensation or have the lands measured etc. etc. The power to decide on question of law and title and in some cases the procedure solely given to the President, is obviously for the reason that the President has had judicial or legal experience on questions relating to disputes of title and also conversant with the procedure in the Code of Civil Procedure. Section 59(c) amplifies that scope and gives power to the Presiding member the status of Civil Judge to summon the witnesses, enforce their evidence and to compel production of the documents as is provided in Civil Procedure Code.
7. The award of the Tribunal has been designated to be the award of the court and the Tribunal is the court and each member is entitled to his own opinion in determination of the compensation or measurements of the land. The Chairperson as a Civil Judge is empowered to sign the award on behalf of the Tribunal. In case of difference of opinion, the majority opinion of the members shall be the decree of the Tribunal. The mandatory quorum, therefore, is three members and the award of the Tribunal is a decree of a civil court. The President also is a member of the Tribunal and everyone of them is liable to be removed for any of the grounds enumerated in Section 10. Each member qua discharge of the functions is an independent member. Mere fact that the President will record the evidence, in the absence of the assessors, or that he is given power to preside over the Tribunal and to compel the presence of the witnesses or to secure the evidence does not per force minimise or undermine the composition of, continuance and functions of the assessors as members of the Tribunal. Temporary absence of a member including President, may entail, by implication, his removal and appointment of a substitute member, which would reinforce that in the discharge of the functions as a member, the presence and participation of each member of the Tribunal should be mandatory, unless his absence becomes unavoidable and beyond his control. Take for instance, absence due to being out of station. The power to record evidence in the absence of the assessors does not clothe the President with the power to decide himself the question of compensation or measurement of land as sole member Tribunal. When the Tribunal consists of three members, the opinion has to be of the composite body, and not of the sole President. The power vested in the President to decide questions of law and title and procedure does not undermine the position of assessor-members of the Tribunal and other matters. The President need not necessarily be a local man. He may be a judicial officer drafted from the service of the respective States; and the assessors, by implication, may be only local men having acquaintance with the prevailing prices of the land. The President must of necessity be either judicially trained or administratively experienced person. When the Tribunal determines compensation or dispute as to the extent of the land acquired or of the quality of the land under acquisition, the decision is that of the Tribunal. In case of difference of opinion, the majority view would be the executable decree. In other words, it indicates that it is a three-member statutory body and does not consist of the President Judge only. He is left with no option but has to associate the other members in determining the compensation of the acquired land for the trust or its nature or extent. Any other interpretation would be inconsistent with the derogatory to the scheme, purpose and intendment of the Act. The presence and participation of each member in the adjudication of the compensation or measurement or quality of land is of necessity, mandatory. The Tribunal will have the assistance of the counsel for the trust and of the claimant or/and counsel for the claimant, if any, engaged by the claimant in determining the compensation or for the measurement and quality of the land. It would, therefore, be clear that all the three members should be present and should participate at the time of enquiry unless unavoidable, hear the matter on merits and the decision of the Tribunal, if not unanimous and if there be difference of opinion, be as per the majority.
8. In other words, the award and the decree are that of the Tribunal and not that of the President Judge alone, though the President signs the award. In case of difference of opinion, the opinion of each member is a judgment but the enforceable award and decree are that of the majority.
9. Admittedly, the assessors did not take any active part in the cases at hand in hearing the argument and the President has recorded that ``they told the undersigned that I should hear the arguments by myself. Today neither of these two assessors is present. It appears they are not interested in hearing the arguments'. This is dereliction of the statutory duty enjoined by the Act defeating the purpose of the Act. The award prepared and signed by the president is that of the President, as he says, it is not an award of the Tribunal. Thus the decree is not that of the Tribunal, which alone is executable in a Court of Small Causes or Senior Sub-Judge.
10. Shri K. Madhava Reddy, learned Senior Counsel appearing for the respondent in Civil Appeal No. 4243 of 1994, contended that the word `shall' employed in Section 58 and Section 60(1) should be construed as a directory. The constitution of the Tribunal and its functioning are under no control of the claimants. The attendance or failure to attend the hearings during the enquiry by the assessors are not regulated by the provisions of the Act or the Rules made thereunder. The interpretation that the performance of the duties by the assessors is mandatory would cause great hardship to the claimants. The provisions of the Act should be so construed as to avoid hardship to the claimants. In support thereof, he placed reliance on Montreal Street Railway Co. v. Normandin, AIR 1917 P.C. 142. It was held therein that:
"When the provisions of a statute relate to the performance of a public duty and the case is such, that to hold null and void, acts done in neglect of this duty would work serious general inconvenience or injustice to persons, who have no control over those entrusted with the duty, and at the same time, would not promote the main object of the Legislature, such provisions are to be held to be directory only, the neglect of them though punishable not affecting the validity of the acts done.'
In the said case, the list of the jury was to be revived from time to time. Without revising the list, the old jury continued for four years in neglect of the duty to revise the list of the jury by the Sharief. The question then arose whether the adjudication by such a jury was valid in law? In the light of the facts, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council held that it was a directory.
11. There is a distinction between ministerial acts and statutory or quasi- judicial functions under the statute. When the statute requires that something should be done or done in a particular manner or form, without expressly declaring what shall be the consequence of non-compliance, the question often arises: What intention is to be attributed by inference to the legislature ? It has been repeatedly said that no particular rule can be laid down in determining whether the command is to be considered as a mere direction or mandatory involving invalidating consequences in its disregard. It is fundamental that it depends on the scope and object of the enactment. Nullification is the natural and usual consequence of disobedience, if the intention is of an imperative character. The question in the main is governed by considerations of the object and purpose of the Act; convenience and justice and the result that would ensue. General inconvenience or injustice to innocent persons or advantage to those guilty of the neglect, without promoting the real aim and object of the enactment would be kept at the back of the mind. The scope and purpose of the statute under consideration must be regarded as an integral scheme. The general rule is that an absolute enactment must be obeyed or fulfilled substantially. When a public duty, as held before, is imposed and statute requires that it shall be performed in a certain manner or within a certain time or under other specified conditions, such prescriptions may well be regarded as intended to be directory only in cases when injustice or inconvenience to others who have no control over those exercising the duty would result if such requirements are not essential and imperative.
12. The question thus arises whether the functions by the Tribunal as a body is mandatory or directory ? The discharge of the duties under the Act are quasi-judicial. The power to determine compensation and other questions involves adjudication. The discharge of the functions by the Tribunal being quasi-judicial cannot be regarded as ministerial. When the statute directs the Tribunal consisting of three members to determine compensation etc. and designates the award as judgment and decree of a civil court, it cannot be held that the quasi-judicial functions of the Tribunal would be considered as directory, defeating the very purpose of the Act. Though inconvenience and delay may occasion in some cases by holding the provisions to be mandatory, but that is an inescapable consequence. In the light of the aforesaid discussion, it must be held that the adjudication by the three-member Tribunal is imperative and mandatory. Determination of the compensation in disregard thereof renders the adjudication void, invalid and inoperative.
13. It is contended by learned Senior Counsel Shri Sehgal appearing for some other respondents that Sohan Lal's case ratio held the field for more than 14 years, based thereon several awards came to be made by the President of the Tribunal under the Act and therefore, the doctrine of stare decisis should be applied and Sohan Lal's case decision be held.
14. Shri Sehgal further contended that awards have been made for years by a single member without any demur and the appellant acquiesced to it. The parties have worked out their rights on the basis of the awards thus made. Any declaration of its invalidating would cause great inconvenience, unsetling the settled rights. The Act is a local legislation. The High Court had interpreted the Act so as to avoid inconvenience to the claimants. In support thereof, he placed strong reliance on Raj Narain Pandey v. Sant Prasad Tewari, (1973) 2 SCC 35 and Darshan Singh v. Rampal Singh, 1991(1) RRR 167(SC) : 1992 Sup. (1) SCC 191.
15. In Halsbury's Laws of England, the principal of stare decisis is stated thus:-
"A decision which has been followed for a long period of time and has been acted upon by persons in the formation of contracts or in the disposition of their property, or in the general conduct of affairs, or in legal procedure or in other ways, will generally be followed by courts of higher authority than the court establishing the rule, even though the court before which the matter arises afterwards might not have given the same decision had the question come before it originally.
The Supreme appellate court will, however, not shirk from overruling a decision of series of decisions which establish a doctrine plainly outside a statute [emphasis supplied] and outside the common law, when no title and no contract will be shaken, no person can complain, and no general course of dealing be altered by the remedy of a mistake.'
In Corpus Juris Secundum, it is stated in para 192 that -
"Under the stare decisis rule, a principle of law which has become settled by a series of decisions generally is binding on the courts and should be followed in similar cases. This rule is based on expediency and public policy, and, although generally it should be strictly adhered to by the courts it is not universally applicable.'
In para 193 at page 322, it was further stated that-
"previous decisions should not be followed to the extent that grievous wrong may result; and accordingly the courts ordinarily will not adhere to a rule or principal established by previous decisions which they are convinced is erroneous. The rule of stare decisis is not so imperative or inflexible as to preclude a departure therefrom in any case, but its application must be determined in each case by the discretion of the court and previous decisions should not be followed to the extent that error may be perpetuated and grievous wrong any result.'
16. In Maktul v. Manbhari, AIR 1958 SC 918, a Bench of three Judges; considered a Full Bench judgment of Lahore High Court which held the field from 1895. The same was held to be erroneous and was overruled. In Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar, (1955) 2 SCR 603 Bhagwati, J. referred to Washington v. Dawson and Co., 264 U.S. 646 where Brandies, J. in his dissenting judgment held that:
"The doctrine of stare decisis should not deter us from overruling that case and those which follow it. The decisions are recent ones. They have not been acquiesced in. They have not created a rule of property around which vested interests has clustered. They affect solely matters of a transitory nature. On the other hand, they affect seriously the lives of men, women and children, and the general welfare. Stare decisis is ordinarily a wise rule of action. But it is not a universal inexorable command.'
In Mark Graves v. People of the State of New York, 306 U.S. 466, Frankfurter, J. observed:-
"Judicial exegesis is unavoidable with reference to an organic act like our Constitution, drawn in many particulars with purposes vagueness so as to leave room for the unfolding future.'
In Bengal Immunity Co. Ltd. v. State of Bihar (supra) a Bench of seven judges of this Court held that non-interference may result in an erroneous interpretation of the Constitution being perpetuated or may, if unrecruited, cause great detriment to public well-being. Accordingly, this court overruled the previous decision.
17. The Court bows to the lessons of experience and the force of better reasoning recognising that the process of trial and error so fruitful in the physical sciences is appropriate also in the judicial function. In A.R. Antulay v. R.S. Nayak, (1988) 2 SCC 602 a Bench of seven Judges of this Court that a decision touching the jurisdiction of the court has to be, not only consistent with the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution, the same cannot even be inconsistent with the substantive provisions of the relevant statutory law. In Keshav Mills Co. Ltd. v. CIT, AIR 1965 SC 1636, considering the effect of statutory interpretation, a Constitution Bench of this Court said that :-
"But different considerations must inevitably arise where a previous decision of this Court has taken a particular view as to the construction of a statutory provision as, for instance, Section 66(4) of the Act. When it is urged that the view already taken by this Court should be reviewed and revised it may not necessarily be an adequate reason for such review and revision to hold that though the earlier view is a reasonably possible view, the alternative view which is pressed on the subsequent occasion is more reasonable. In reviewing and revising its earlier decision, this Court should ask itself whether in the interests of the public good or for any other valid and compulsive reasons, it is necessary that the earlier decisions should be revised. When this Court decides questions of law, its decisions are, under Article 141, on all Courts within the territory of India, and so, it must be the constant endeavour and concern of this Court to introduce and maintain an element of certainty and continuity in the interpretation of law in the country. Frequent exercise by this Court of its power to review its earlier decisions on the ground that the view pressed before it later appears to the Court to be more reasonable, may incidentally tend to make law uncertain and introduce confusion which must be inconsistently avoided. That is not to say that if on a subsequent occasion, the Court is satisfied that its earlier decision was clearly erroneous, it should hesitate to correct the error; but before a previous decision is pronounced to be plainly erroneous, the Court must be satisfied with a fair amount of unanimity amongst its members that a revision of the said view is fully justified. It is not possible or desirable, and in any case it would be inexpedient to lay down any principles which should govern the approach of the Court in dealing with the question of reviewing and revising its earlier decisions. It would always depend upon several relevant considerations: What is the nature of the infirmity or error on which a plea for a review and revision of the earlier view is based? On the earlier occasion, did some patent aspects of the question remain unnoticed, or was the attention of the Court not drawn to any relevant and material statutory provision, or was any previous decision of this Court bearing on the point not noticed? Is the Court bearing such plea fairly unanimous that there is such an error in the earlier view? What would be the impact of the error on the general administration of law or on public good? Has the earlier decision been followed on subsequent occasions either by this Court or by the High Court Courts? And, would the reversal of the earlier decision lead to public inconvenience, hardship or mischief ? These and other relevant considerations must be carefully borne in mind whenever this Court is called upon to exercise its jurisdiction to review and revise its earlier decisions. These considerations become still more significant when the earlier decision happens to be a unanimous decision of a Bench of five learned Judges of this Court.'
18. It was also further observed that the principle of stare decisis cannot be pressed into service in cases where the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to reconsider and revise its earlier decision is invoked; yet, the normal principle of that judgments pronounced by this Court would be final and cannot be ignored unless considerations of a substantial and compelling character make it necessary to do so. This Court should and would be reluctant to review and revise its earlier decisions. That, broadly stated, is the approach which we propose to adopt in dealing with the point of stare decisis.
19. In Raj Narain Pandey's case (supra) this Court was confronted with a Division Bench of the Allahabad High Court in Mahabal Singh v. Ram Raj, AIR 1950 All. 604, laying down some principles of law on the rights of the mortgagee and its successors vis-a-vis the mortgagor. That principle was consistent with equity, justice and the rights of the mortgagor and mortgage. When its correctness was challenged, this Court held in para 10 that the contrary view would unsettle the law established for a number of years and that, therefore, the doctrine of stare decisis was applied. It is to remember that the ratio in Mahabal's case (supra) does not touch the jurisdiction and interpretation of the statute. In Darshan Singh v. Ram Pal Singh's case (supra) interpreting the customary law of Punjab and the amendment of the Hindu Succession Act to the pending cases, this Court applied the doctrine of stare decisis to elongate justice.
20. In Kesavananda Bharati v. State of Kerala, (1973) 4 SCC 225, while interpreting Article 31-A of the Constitution in the dissenting judgment, Khanna, J. applied the doctrine of stare decisis to preserve established agrarian rights secured by tenants over years.
21. Thus we hold that normally the decisions which have been followed for a long period of time and have been acted upon by persons in the formulation of the contracts or in the disposition of that property or other legal processes should generally be followed afterwards but this rule is not inexorable, inflexible and universally applicable in all situations. The appellate court will not shirk from overruling the decision or series of decisions which establish a ratio outside the statute or in negation of the object resulting in defeating the purpose of the statute or when the court in convinced that the view is clearly erroneous or illegal. Perpetration of such an illegal decision would result in grievous wrong. When the decision touches upon the jurisdiction of the court or the tribunal, it is but the duty of the appellate court to consider the correctness thereof and lay down the correct law. When two views are reasonably possible, the alternative view which is consistent with justice and equity, and if no irremediable injury would ensue thereunder, the earlier view may be accepted in the interest of public for any other valid and compulsive reasons. If it touches the jurisdiction or question of law of great public importance or involves interpretation of the statute, the erroneous interpretation would not be a ground for the court to shirk its responsibility to reconsider the interpretation and lay down the correct principle of law. In that behalf, the doctrine of stare decisis becomes inapplicable. Interpretation of the special statute of local character, if it is consistent with the purpose of the statute and justice and no irremediable injury would arise therefrom, the view of the High Court will be respected by this Court. If the previous decision is plainly erroneous, the Court must be satisfied that the view of the High Court is justified. It is not possible or desirable or expedient to lay down any principle which should govern the approach of this Court in dealing with the applicability of the doctrine of stare decisis. It would always depend upon several relevant considerations particularly touching the jurisdiction of the court or the Tribunal which decides the dispute. It is seen that Sohan Lal's case ratio was laid in the year 1981 and within 7 years when the opportunity arose, its legality was questioned but the subsequent bench upheld the ratio of Sohan Lal's case. Therefore, it is a case of transient nature and it did not acquire the status attracting stare decisis. The Act intended adjudication by plurality of opinions with multi-voice rather than individual dicta. The doctrine of stare decisis, if applied, would perpetrate illegal interpretation defeating the statutory objective of the Act and a decree by incompetent adjucator would get executed.
22. It is next contended that since the matter is long pending and the appellant has acquiesced to the jurisdiction of the single member award, it is not a fit case warranting interference under Article 136. Acquiescence does not confer jurisdiction and erroneous interpretation equally should not be permitted to perpetuate and perpetrate defeating of legislative animation. It is next contended that the decision in this appeal should be given prospective operation to the future cases without disturbing the decision under appeal, since long time has lapsed from the date of the notification under section 28 of the Act. We do not agree. In Managing Director, ECIL v. B. Karunakar, (1993) 4 SCC 727 a Constitution Bench of this Court held that the decision laying down a principle of law for the first time should be given prospective operation from the date of the judgment and any action prior to that date would not be reopened. In that case, the question was whether the delinquent officer is entitled to the supply of inquiry report and non-supply thereof vitiates the punitive action taken against the delinquent officer. This Court held that the decision must be given effect from the date it was rendered. In other words, the ratio would not be applicable to the pending cases in the courts below or this Court and be given effect from the date of the judgment. In that view, it must be held that since the award of the Tribunal of the President of the Tribunal and of that Tribunal, the consequence is that the award and decree are void. Therefore, it cannot be given effect. Since, we are interpreting law, we declare that any award made from this date by the member - President of the Tribunal only shall be void and it does not have the effect of unsettling the single member awards made and becoming final.
23. It is not in dispute that in some cases, this Court remitted them for decision afresh by the Tribunal and we are informed, they are still pending decision. Since these are all old cases, State Government of Haryana is directed to constitute the Tribunal as provided in the Act if not already done and the Tribunal will consider, decide and dispose of all the claims within a period of not more than six months from the date of the constitution.
24. May it be stated before closing that an effort was made by one of the respondents appearing in person (Shri Jawa) that the appellant had accepted the valuation of Rs. 1326 as fixed by the Tribunal in some cases and so, it should not be allowed to question the judgment of the High Court, when it has fixed the same valuation for the similarly situated lands of others. This point was sought to be brought home to us by referring to the table prepared by the Tribunal. We have gone into this aspect and after hearing Shri Verma for the appellants, we cannot accept this contention of Shri Jawa. Nor do we accept his contention that all the lands are similarly situate; the map of this appeal does not establish the same.
25. The appeals are, therefore, allowed. The judgments of the High Court and the awards of the Tribunal are set aside. The Tribunal shall decide the dispute in accordance with law as stated earlier. Several questions on merits had arisen but since not allowed to be canvassed, we are not expressing any opinion on merits. All the questions are kept at large to be dealt with in accordance with law. No costs.
26. Appeals allowed.
- Shekhar Naphade
- Mahesh Agrawal
- Tarun Dua
- S. Vani
- B. Sunita Rao
- Sushil Kumar Pathak