1. The appellants have instituted this Regular First Appeal under section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, praying therein that the judgment and decree dated 13.03.2010 passed by the learned Senior Civil Judge, Attock be set aside and Award No.7 dated 08.06.2004 be restored and maintained, in the interest of justice.
2. Briefly the facts of the case as discernable from this appeal are that the appellants acquired land measuring 04-kanals 03-marlas comprising khasra No.1079 khewat No.425/670 situated in Mauza Wardag, Tehsil and District Attock, for the construction of Islamabad-Peshawar motorway through Award No.07 dated 08.06.2004. The appellants paid compensation amounting to Rs.607,966/- to the respondents. The compensation paid at the time of acquisition was correctly assessed in accordance with law and the same was more than the market rate. The compensation was worked out by the District Assessment Committee on the basis of average sale price in the village. Keeping in view the market value and other relevant factors the rates as received from the District Officer Revenue and approved by the Board of Revenue Punjab Lahore were fixed being reasonable and fair. The respondents had not raised any objection on the assessed compensation and received the same without any protest. The respondents filed a reference under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 before the learned Senior Civil Judge Attock. The reference was contested by the appellants by filing written statement wherein they denied the averments made in the reference.
3. Out of the divergent pleadings of the parties the following issues were framed by the learned trial court:
“1. Whether the reference in question is not maintainable u/s 18 of the LAA? OPR
2. Whether the reference is barred by time? OPR
3. Whether the compensation awarded to the petitioners is inadequate and they are entitled to its enhancement, if so, to what extent? OPA
4. The parties led their evidence pro and contra to prove their respective contentions. After scanning the entire record and available evidence, the learned trial court vide impugned judgment and decree dated 13.03.2010 accepted the reference filed by the respondents and modified the Award to the extent that the respondents are entitled to receive compensation at the rate of Rs.300,000/- per kanal alongwith 15% Compulsory Acquisition Charges and 8% Compound Interest. Hence this Regular First Appeal.
5. Learned counsel for the appellants submits that reference under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act (I of 1894), was not competent as the respondents had received compensation as determined by the Land Acquisition Collector through Award No.7 without raising any objection. He further submits that the respondents had no locus standi to file reference under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 read with second proviso to sub-section (2) of section 31of the Act ibid. On the other hand learned counsel for the respondents contends that the respondents received the compensation under protest. He further submits that filing of reference under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894 would amount to protest as envisaged under second proviso to sub-section (2) of section 31 of the Act ibid. He relies on case titled Wali Ahmad vs. Collector Land Acquisition and others (1985 SCMR 224).
6. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and also perused the record of this case with their able assistance.
7. The respondents in paragraph No.1 of their reference filed under section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, stated that an amount of Rs.607,966/- was paid to them in accordance with Award No.7/2004. It is nowhere mentioned in the reference that they had received the compensation under protest. Further Zahir Shah, one of the respondents, appeared as AW-I and categorically stated in his examination-in-chief that compensation of Rs.607,966/- was paid in respect of acquired land. He too had not stated that the same was received under protest.
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