Sale Deed cannot be discarded in absence of any material being on record to prove they were actuated with malafide: Himachal Pradesh High Court

While deciding on the enhancement of compensation regarding an acquired land under section 4 of Land Acquisition Act, the court held sale deeds cannot be discarded when there is no evidence to prove that they were executed with malafide intention to inflate the price of land. This judgment was passed in the case of Manish Bhatia vs. The state of Himachal Pradesh & another [RFA No.302/2012] by a single bench consisting of Hon’ble Justice Ajay Mohan Goel.

The Regular First Appeal was preferred against the award passed by the District Judge, wherein the appellant was not entitled for any enhancement in the compensation as the market value of land and non-fruit bearing trees stood rightly assessed by the respondents. The land of the appellant was situated near the road in a village of Mandi and was acquired by the respondents with intent of developing same as tourist place. Notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act was issued, and the land acquisition collector awarded an amount of Rs.3,65,188/- for a market value of 4,40,000/- The appellant pleaded that he had put in a lot of money to develop the land therefore should be awarded Rs.2,00,000/- The Reference Court while deciding whether the petitioner is entitled for enhancement of compensation, observed that the acquired land was purchased for a sum of Rs.2,50,000/- and the collector merely assessed the value of the land. The Land Acquisition Collector rightly assessed market value of the land and awarded a sum of Rs.6,24,793/- as value of the trees, whereas the land along with all the rights pertinent thereto were purchased by the plaintiff for a sum of Rs.2,50,000/ and held the compensation was adequate.

After hearing the parties to the proceeding, the High Court observed that the appellant had approached the court for enhancement of compensation on the basis of four sale deeds. As per the first and second sale deed the two parts of the land was sold for Rs.66,000 each and vide the third sale deed the land was sold for Rs.33,000. These were discarded by the Reference Court on the ground that it was executed by the father of land owner about 19 days prior to the issuance of Notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act.

The High Court held that such a reason was not sufficient to discard the documents until and unless it was proved that the father of the present appellant was having knowledge with regard to acquisition of the land and these three sale deeds were not executed with a bonafide intent by the father. Further, it was held that on execution of subsequent sale deeds, the value at which the land was purchased lost its significance.

The High Court went on to decide on what could be a fair price of land and held that since the land in the three sale deeds were small compared to the land acquired by the present appellant, the compensation in favour pf the land owner was Rs.15,000/-

The High Court Concluded by holding, “this appeal is allowed, by setting aside the award passed by learned Reference Court and by ordering the enhancement of the Award amount awarded in favour of the appellant by Land Acquisition Collector, by assessing the same at the rate of Rs.15,000/- per biswa.”

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