Power of Review can be exercised only when the statute provides for the same

In the judgment of the two civil appeals, Naresh Kumar & Others v. Govt. of NCT of Delhi, delivered on October 17, 2019, Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat, at the Supreme Court, have reiterated the ”settled law” that power of Review can be exercised only when the statute provides for the same.

The Court has clarified that in the absence of any such provision in the concerned statute, such power of Review cannot be exercised by the authority concerned.

In the decision of the case – Kalabharati Advertising v. Hemant Vimalnath Narichania – (2010) 9 SCC 437, the Supreme Court has held as under: 

“12. It is settled legal proposition that unless the statute/rules so permit, the review application is not maintainable in case of judicial/ quasi-judicial orders. In the absence of any provision in the Act granting an express power of review, it is manifest that a review could not be made and the order in review, if passed, is ultra vires, illegal, and without jurisdiction. (Patel Chunibhai Dajibha v.Narayanrao Khanderao Jambekar - AIR 1965 SC 1457 and Harbhajan Singh v. Karam Singh – AIR 1966 SC 641).

“13.  In Patel NarshiThakershi v. Pradyuman Singh ji Arjun Singh Ji-(1971) 3 SCC 844 and three other cases,the Court has held that the power to review is not an inherent power. It must be conferred by law either expressly/specifically or by necessary implication and in the absence of any provision in the Act/Rules, review of an earlier order is impermissible as review is a creation of statute. Jurisdiction of review can be derived only from the statute and thus, any order of review in absence of any statutory provision for the same is a nullity, being without jurisdiction.

“14. Therefore, in view of the above, the law on the point can be summarized to the effect that in the absence of any statutory provision providing for review, entertaining an application for review or under the garb of clarification/modification/correction is not permissible.”

The short question involved in these appeals was, as to whether, under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 after the passing of the Award under section 11 of the Act, the Award could be reviewed under any of the provisions of the Act, especially under section 13A of the Act. 

The land of the appellants was sought to be acquired by a notification of May 23, 2002 issued under section 4 of the Act, followed by a declaration under section 6 of the Act issued on December 17, 2002. An Award was passed by the Land Acquisition Officer on October 1, 2003, awarding compensation of Rs 1,97,08,397/- in favour of the appellants. Out of which an amount of Rs 1,87,10,194/- was paid to the appellants and the balance amount of Rs 9,98,203/- along with interest, still remains to be paid.

Then on July 14, 2004, a Review Award was passed by the Land Acquisition Officer, reducing the amount of compensation by Rs 49,39,195/- on the ground that the compensation ought not to have been awarded in respect of alleged illegal structures on the land, which had been wrongly awarded by the Award of October 1, 2003..Such amount was thus deducted by the Review Award.

The appellants were unaware of the said Review Award having been passed and, in the meantime, a Supplementary Award of October 27, 2004 was passed in favour of the appellants for an amount of Rs 45,36,781.64 paise towards compensation for the trees on the land which was acquired.

Thereafter, the appellants filed writ petition praying for release of the compensation in respect of the Supplementary Award of October 27, 2004. Then the appellants filed another writ petition challenging   Review Award of the July 14, 2004. Both the petitions were heard together and dismissed by a common judgment on March 4, 2010 passed by a Delhi HC division bench, which is under challenge through these appeals.

The Supreme Court has pointed out that there is no provision under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for review of the Award once passed under section 11 of the Act and had attained finality. The only provision is for correction of clerical errors in the Award which is provided for under section 13A of the Act, which was inserted with effect from September 24, 1984.

A bare reading of the said section 13A would make it clear that the same is not a provision for Review of the Award but only for correction of clerical or arithmetical mistakes in the Award. It has been further provided in sub-section (1) of section 13A that that the said correction can be made at any time, but not later than six months from the date of Award. In this case, the Land Acquisition Collector has actually not made any correction of clerical or arithmetical mistake, but in fact has reviewed the Award of October 1, 2003 by its Review Award of July 14, 2004, which was clearly passed beyond such period of six months.

In the considered view of the Supreme Court, the Review Award could not have been passed under section 13A of the Act, which is meant only for correction of any clerical or arithmetical mistake. There is no other provision in the Act under which the said order of July 14, 2004 could have been passed.

In this case, the compensation for the structure on the land has been deducted from the Award of  October 1, 2003by the Review Award of July 14, 2004 on the ground of same being illegal structure, which actually amounts to Review of the Award and cannot said to be a correction of any clerical or arithmetical mistake. There being no provision under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for review of the Award, the passing of the order of July 14, 2004, in Review Award cannot be justified in law.

Section 12 of the Act clearly provides that the Award of the Collector shall become final on the same being filed in the Collector’s office, of which the Collector shall give immediate notice to the persons interested. From the facts of this case, it is clear that the Award of October 1, 2003 of which due notice had been given to the appellants and part compensation had also been paid to the appellants in pursuance thereto had be3come final and the same could not have been reviewed, and that too beyond a period of six months, within which period only clerical or arithmetical mistakes could have been corrected.

In view of this, the Supreme Court has held that the Award of October 1, 2003 could not have been reviewed by the Collector, and thus the Court allowed these appeals and quashed the Award as well as the order of July 4, 2004 passed by the Collector in Review Award Of March 4, 2010 passed by the Delhi HC in two petitions. The appellants shall thus be entitled to the compensation as awarded in terms of the Award of the Land Acquisition Collector dated October 1, 2003 and the Supplementary Award of October 27, 2004.

 

R.S.Agrawal 
on 30 October 2019
Published in Others
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