30 July 2022 5:45 AM GMT
The Gujarat High Court recently ruled that under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, determination of full compensation to the aggrieved can be done by the civil court if the dispute is regarding the insufficiency of compensation paid under Section 10(d) of the Act. Justice Umesh Trivedi found that such claims need not be filed before the District Judge as contended by the...
The Gujarat High Court recently ruled that under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, determination of full compensation to the aggrieved can be done by the civil court if the dispute is regarding the insufficiency of compensation paid under Section 10(d) of the Act.
Justice Umesh Trivedi found that such claims need not be filed before the District Judge as contended by the petitioner authority, particularly since it had not paid full compensation in the case.
"Once there is no payment of full compensation, there is no question of directing a person to approach District Judge by way of application against insufficiency of compensation. For non-payment of compensation under all heads of damages conceivable, remedy lies before the civil Court. Here in this case, no such compensation is even contemplated by the petitioner - defendant and they are satisfied with payment made towards cutting of trees and damage to standing crops."
The petitioner, Power Grid Corporation, was empowered under the Electricity Act to place electric lines and electric plants for telephonic or telegraphic communication. As such, they laid overhead transmission lines from the agricultural land of the respondent while providing him compensation as mandated under section 10(d) of the Act.
This compensation was viewed as insufficient by the respondent for the damage to his crops and trees and for this reason, he moved the civil court.
The petitioner argued that when part compensation was paid towards damage to the crops, the respondent should have approached the District Judge for any other claim. Therefore, it moved an application before the Civil Judge seeking the return of the plaint before the District Judge or determining the sufficiency of compensation.
However, this was dismissed by the civil court. Aggrieved, the Corporation moved the High Court challenging the order of the Civil Judge.
The petitioner showed that the compensation was paid to the respondent much before the filing of the suit and the same was accepted by the respondent back then.
Per contra, the respondent insisted that a 'meagre amount' was paid for the damage caused to the property which was by no means the full compensation. Therefore, he contended that his suit in the ordinary civil court claiming damages was maintainable.
Justice Trivedi identified that the crucial question to be determined here was with regard to the jurisdiction of the Civil Court invoked by the respondent to obtain compensation for the damage to his property.
The Single Judge Bench admitted that under the Act of 1885 or the Electricity Act, no authority was designated for determining the compensation towards damage of property.
However, u/s 10(d) of the Telegraph Act, the Telegraph authority is obliged to determine and pay full compensation (and not part compensation) to any person for damage sustained in the exercise of powers. In this case, full compensation was not paid by authority and therefore, for such damage, the 'person aggrieved can surely invoke the jurisdiction of the civil court.'
The Bench opined:
"Whereas in the present case, there is no full compensation determined and there is no complaint with regard to insufficiency of compensation already paid towards cutting of trees or damage to standing crop prayed for in a suit, the respondent - plaintiff need not resort to remedy as suggested by the petitioner – defendant."
The Bench also explained that u/s 16(3) of the Act, the District Judge is concerned with the sufficiency/adequacy of compensation and not the entitlement of compensation of a claim.
In the instant case, the compensation towards other heads aside from damage to crops or cutting of trees was yet to be paid. This determination of full compensation could be done by the civil court.
Accordingly, the petition was dismissed.
Case No.: C/SCA/11797/2013
Case Title: POWER GRID CORPORATION OF INDIA LIMITED. v/s MANOJBHAI DASHRATHBHAI PATEL
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 300
Click Here To Read/Download Order
(Inputs by Hannah M. Varghese)