It Cannot Be Gainsaid That As Per Doctrine Of Harmonious Construction, Document Must Be Read As A Whole & In Its Totality: SC In LA Case
The Supreme Court in a land acquisition case has observed that it cannot be gainsaid that as per doctrine of harmonious construction, the document must be read as a whole and in its totality.
The Court was dealing with a batch of two civil appeals preferred by a trust against the judgments passed by the High Court whereby it remanded the matter to the Reference Court to decide the question as to whether the reference made was within the limitation as per Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice Bela M. Trivedi and Justice Dipankar Datta held, “It cannot be gainsaid that as per the rules of doctrine of harmonious construction, the document has to be read as a whole and in its totality. If there is any ambiguity either patent or latent, in any of the clauses of the document, the courts should interpret such clause in such manner which is consistent with the other clauses and with the purpose and intent of the parties executing it.”
The Bench said that there cannot be any disagreement to the legal proposition that in view of the proviso to Section 18 of the said Act, every application to the Collector seeking reference under Section 18 is required to be made within the time limit prescribed in the proviso to Section 18.
Senior Advocate B.H. Marlapalle appeared for the appellant-Trust while Senior Advocate Parag Tripathi appeared for the respondent-Committee.
Facts of the Case -
The respondent i.e., Market Committee had preferred two First Appeals before the Bombay High Court, challenging the award passed by the II Ad hoc Additional District Judge, Nashik (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Reference Court’). The High Court allowed the same and set aside the award passed by the Reference Court, and remanded the matter to the Reference Court to decide the question as to whether the Reference made to the Reference Court was within the limitation as per Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, and decide the Reference afresh.
The lands belonging to the appellant were sought to be acquired by the Collector for the respondent no. 1– Agricultural Produce Market Committee under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act read with Section 126 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966. In the said acquisition proceedings, an award was declared under Section 11 of the Act and the appellant filed a Writ Petition challenging the said proceedings on the ground that the award declared was beyond the statutory period of limitation but the same was dismissed.
The Supreme Court in the above context of the case noted, “Since the market value of the lands as on 17.12.1994 which was the reckonable date agreed by the parties, was required to be determined by the District Court, Nashik, making of an application to the Collector seeking a Reference under Section 18 was a sheer procedural formality required to be followed by the appellant.”
The Court said that the Reference Court after considering all the legal and factual aspects of the matter had rightly held that the Reference was filed with the Collector within the period of limitation as per the order passed by the High Court.
“In our opinion, the High Court had committed gross error in interfering with the said well-reasoned findings recorded by the Reference Court, and in setting aside the entire award and remanding the matter back to the Reference Court for deciding it afresh. The impugned judgments and orders passed by the High Court being ex facie erroneous, the same are set aside”, added the Court.
Accordingly, the Apex Court allowed both the appeals.
Cause Title- Shri Nashik Panchavati Panjarpol Trust & Ors. v. The Chairman & Anr. (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 750)