Calcutta H.C : Section 269UG(1) provides that amount of consideration payable in accordance with provisions of section 269UF shall be tendered to person or persons

High Court Of Calcutta

Rai Bahadur G.V. Swaika Estates (P.) Ltd. vs. CCIT

Section : 269UC

Ms. Indira Banerjee, J.

G.A. No. 613 Of 2011 And W.P. Nos. 128 Of 2011 And 2106 Of 2003

March 29, 2011

JUDGMENT

Ms. Indira Banerjee, J. – The writ applications, being W. P. No. 128 of 2011 and W. P. No. 2106 of 2003, are directed against an order of compulsory acquisition dated August 14, 2001, of the first floor of premises No. 4A, Pollock Street, Kolkata-700 001, hereinafter referred to as the said premises, passed by the Income-tax Department under Chapter XX-C of the Income-tax Act, 1961.

2. Petitioner No. 1 entered into an agreement dated September 22, 1984, for transfer of the entire first floor of premises No. 4A, Pollock Street, Kolkata 700 001, to Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd.

3. Before the said property was actually transferred in terms of the aforesaid agreement, the Finance Act, 1986, was enacted, amending the Income-tax Act, 1961, by insertion of Chapter XX-C consisting of section 269U to section 269UO. The amendments came into force with effect from October 1, 1986, pursuant to Notification No. S. O. 480(E), dated August 7, 1986 (See [1986] 162 ITR (St.) 1).

4. The relevant provisions of Chapter XX-C of the Income-tax Act relevant for deciding issues involved in this writ application are set out hereinbelow for convenience :

“269UA. In this Chapter, unless the context otherwise requires,—

(a)‘agreement for transfer’ means an agreement, whether registered under the Registration Act, 1908 (16 of 1908), or not, for the transfer of any immovable property ;

(b)‘apparent consideration’,—

(1) in relation to any immovable property in respect of which an agreement for transfer is made, being immovable property of the nature referred to in sub-clause (i) of clause (d) means,—

(i)if the immovable property is to be transferred by way of sale, the consideration for such transfer as specified in the agreement for transfer ;

(ii)if the immovable property is to be transferred by way of exchange,—

(A)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of a thing or things only, the price that such thing or things would ordinarily fetch on sale in the open market on the date on which the agreement for transfer is made ;

(B)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of a thing or things and sum of money, the aggregate of the price that such thing or things would ordinarily fetch on sale in the open market on the date on which the agreement for transfer is made, and such sum ;

(iii)if the immovable property is to be transferred by way of lease,—

(A)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of premium only, the amount of premium as specified in the agreement for transfer ;

(B)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of rent only, the aggregate of the moneys (if any) payable by way of rent and the amounts for the service or things forming part of or constituting the rent, as specified in the agreement for transfer ;

(C)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of premium and rent, the aggregate of the amount of the premium, the moneys (if any) payable by way of rent and the amounts for the service or things forming part of or constituting the rent, as specified in the agreement for transfer . . .

(2) in relation to any immovable property in respect of which an agreement for transfer is made, being immovable property of the nature referred to in sub-clause (ii) of clause (d), means,—

(i)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of a sum of money only, such sum ;

(ii)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of a thing or things only, the price that such thing or things would ordinarily fetch on sale in the open market on the date on which the agreement for transfer is made ;

(iii)in a case where the consideration for the transfer consists of a thing or things and a sum of money, the aggregate of the price that such thing or things would ordinarily fetch on sale in the open market on the date on which the agreement for transfer is made, and such sum,

and where the whole or any part of the consideration for such transfer is payable on any date or dates falling after the date of such agreement for transfer, the value of the consideration payable after such date shall be deemed to be the discounted value of such consideration, as on the date of such agreement for transfer, determined by adopting such rate of interest as may be prescribed in this behalf ; . . .

269UC.(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (4 of 1882), or any other law for the time being in force, no transfer of any immovable property in such area and of such value exceeding five lakhs rupees, as may be prescribed, shall be effected except after an agreement for transfer is entered into between the person who intends transferring the immovable property (hereinafter referred to as the transferor) and the person to whom it is proposed to be transferred (hereinafter referred to as the transferee) in accordance with the provisions of sub-section (2) at least four months before the intended date of transfer.

(2) The agreement referred to in sub-section (1) shall be reduced to writing in the form of a statement by each of the parties to such transfer or by any of the parties to such transfer acting on behalf of himself and on behalf of the other parties.

(3) Every statement referred to in sub-section (2) shall,-

(i)be in the prescribed form ;

(ii)set forth such particulars as may be prescribed ; and

(iii)be verified in the prescribed manner,

and shall be furnished to the Appropriate Authority in such manner and within such time as may be prescribed, by each of the parties to such transaction or by any of the parties to such transaction acting on behalf of himself and on behalf of the other parties. . .

269UD.(1) The Appropriate Authority after the receipt of the statement under sub-section (3) of section 269UC in respect of any immovable property, may, notwithstanding anything contained in any other law or any instrument or any agreement for the time being in force, and for reasons to be recorded in writing, make an order for the purchase by the Central Government of such immovable property at an amount equal to the amount of apparent consideration :

Provided that no such order shall be made in respect of any immovable property after the expiration of a period of two months from the end of the month in which the statement referred to in section 269UC in respect of such property is received by the Appropriate Authority :

Provided that in a case where the statement referred to in section 269UC in respect of the immovable property concerned is given to an Appropriate Authority, other than the Appropriate Authority having jurisdiction in accordance with the provisions of section 269UB to make the order referred to in this sub-section in relation to the immovable property concerned, the period of limitation referred to in the preceding proviso shall be reckoned with reference to the date of receipt of the statement by the Appropriate Authority having jurisdiction to make the order under this sub-section : . . .

269UE.(1) Where an order under sub-section (1) of section 269UD is made by the Appropriate Authority in respect of an immovable property referred to in sub-clause (i) of clause (d) of section 269UA, such property shall, on the date of such order, vest in the Central Government free from all encumbrances : . . .

(2) The transferor or any other person who may be in possession of the immovable property in respect of which an order under sub-section (1) of section 269UD is made, shall surrender or deliver possession thereof to the Appropriate Authority or any other person duly authorised by the Appropriate Authority in this behalf within fifteen days of the service of such order on him : . . .

(3) If any person refuses or fails to comply with the provisions of sub-section (2), the Appropriate Authority or other person duly authorised by it under that sub-section may take possession of the immovable property and may, for that purpose, use such force as may be necessary . . .

269UF.(1) Where an order for the purchase of any immovable property by the Central Government is made under sub-section (1) of section 269UD, . . . the amount equal to the amount of the apparent consideration . . .

269UG.(1) The amount of consideration payable in accordance with the provisions of section 269UF shall be tendered to the person or persons entitled thereto, within a period of one month from the end of the month in which the immovable property concerned becomes vested in the Central Government under sub-section (1), or, as the case may be, sub-section (6), of section 269UE :

Provided that if any liability for any tax or any other sum remaining payable under this Act, the Wealth-tax Act, 1957 (27 of 1957), the Gift-tax Act, 1958 (18 of 1958), the Estate Duty Act, 1953 (34 of 1953), or the Companies (Profits) Surtax Act, 1964 (7 of 1964), by any person entitled to the consideration payable under section 269UF, the Appropriate Authority may, in lieu of the payment of the amount of consideration, set off the amount of consideration or any part thereof against such liability or sum, after giving an intimation in this behalf to the person entitled to the consideration.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), if any dispute arises as to the apportionment of the amount of consideration amongst persons claiming to be entitled thereto, the Central Government shall deposit with the Appropriate Authority the amount of consideration required to be tendered under sub-section (1) within the period specified therein.

(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), if the person entitled to the amount of consideration does not consent to receive it, or if there is any dispute as to the title to receive the amount of consideration, the Central Government shall deposit with the Appropriate Authority the amount of consideration required to be tendered under sub-section (1) within the period specified therein : . . .

269UH.(1) If the Central Government fails to tender under sub-section (1) of section 269UG or deposit under sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) of the said section, the whole or any part of the amount of consideration required to be tendered or deposited thereunder within the period specified therein in respect of any immovable property which has vested in the Central Government under sub-section (1) or, as the case may be, sub-section (6) of section 269UE, the order to purchase the immovable property by the Central Government made under sub-section (1) of section 269UD shall stand abrogated and the immovable property shall stand re-vested in the transferor after the expiry of the aforesaid period :

Provided that where any dispute referred to in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) of section 269UG is pending in any court for decision, the time taken by the court to pass a final order under the said sub-sections shall be excluded in computing the said period. . .

269UJ. With a view to rectifying any mistake apparent from the record, the Appropriate Authority may amend any order made by it under this Chapter, either on its own motion or on the mistake being brought to its notice by any person affected by the order :

Provided that if any such amendment is likely to affect any person prejudicially, it shall not be made without giving to such person a reasonable opportunity of being heard :

Provided further that no amendment shall be made under this section after the expiry of six months from the end of the month in which the order sought to be amended was made. . .

269UM. Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law or in any instrument or any agreement for the time being in force, when an order for the purchase of any immovable property by the Central Government is made under this Chapter, no claim by the transferee shall lie against the transferor by reason of such transfer being not in accordance with the agreement for the transfer of the immovable property entered into between the transferor and transferee :

Provided that nothing contained in this section shall apply if the order for the purchase of the immovable property by the Central Government is abrogated under sub-section (1) of section 269UH.

269UN. Save as otherwise provided in this Chapter, any order made under sub-section (1) of section 269UD or any order made under sub-section (2) of section 269UF shall be final and conclusive and shall not be called in question in any proceeding under this Act or under any other law for the time being in force.”

5. The Income-tax Act (Seventh Amendment) Rules, 1986, amended the Income-tax Rules, 1962, by insertion of Part X-C relating to purchase of immovable properties under Chapter XX-C, incorporating rules 48-I to 48L with effect from October 1, 1986. Rule 48L of the Income-tax Rules, prior to amendment by the Income-tax (Seventh Amendment) Rules, 1987, provided as follows :

“48L. (1) The statement required to be furnished to the Appropriate Authority under sub-section (3) of section 269UC shall be in Form No. 37-I and shall be signed and verified in the manner indicated therein by each of the parties to the transfer referred to in sub-section (1) of that section or by any of the parties to such transfer acting on behalf of himself and on behalf of the other parties.

(2) The statement in Form No. 37-I, shall be furnished, in duplicate, to the Appropriate Authority : –

(a)before the 16th day of October, 1986, in a case where the agreement for transfer is entered into before the 1st day of October, 1986 ; and

(b)before the expiry of 15 days from the day on which the agreement for transfer is entered into, in cases not covered by clause (a).”

6. On or about October 15, 1986, a statement in Form 37-I, duly signed by a director of petitioner No. 1 and a director of Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. was submitted to the Appropriate Authority, in terms of section 269UC of the Income-tax Act, 1961, read with rule 48L of the Income-tax Rules, 1962. A photocopy of the said statement in Form 37-I was produced in this court, by the income-tax authorities, and directed to be taken on record.

7. As per the statement duly signed on behalf of petitioner No. 1 and Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. by their respective directors, the first floor of premises No. 4A, Pollock Street, Kolkata-700 001, comprising super-built area of approximately 6000 square feet was being sold at a consideration of Rs. 18 lakhs.

8. In the aforesaid statement, there is a categorical declaration of the intention of petitioner No. 1 to transfer the said premises to Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. of No. 3, Synagogue Street, Calcutta-700 001 for total apparent consideration of Rs. 18 lakhs.

9. By an order dated December 12, 1986, passed under section 269UD(1) of the Income-tax Act, the Appropriate Authority directed pre-emptive purchase of the said property, for the reasons recorded in the said order.

10. Petitioner No. 1 filed a writ petition being W. P. No. 2284 of 1986, whereupon the order of pre-emptive purchase was set aside and the matter remitted to the Appropriate Authority for a fresh decision, upon opportunity of hearing to the concerned parties.

11. By a reasoned order dated August 14, 2000, the Appropriate Authority again directed pre-emptive purchase of the property under section 269UD of the Income-tax Act, 1961.

12. Challenging the order dated August 14, 2001, and subsequent notices for auction of the property, the petitioner filed the writ petition being W. P. No. 2016 of 2003, hereinafter referred to as the first writ petition.

13. The first writ petition, in which an interim order was passed, was dismissed on August 23, 2009. The writ petition was restored on February 3, 2011. In the mean while, on January 14, 2011, fresh notices were issued for auction of the said premises. The auction took place on February 4, 2011.

14. The second writ petition, being W. P. No. 128 of 2011, has been filed challenging the said notices issued on January 14, 2011. On February 4, 2011 her Ladyship the hon’ble Justice Patherya passed an order in the second writ petition, which is set out hereinbelow for convenience :

“No further steps be taken in respect of the auction sale held on February 4, 2011, till February 7, 2011.

This order is passed in view of the statement made by counsel for the respondent authorities that the sale has already been held. This submission is, however, rebutted by counsel for the petitioner who, on instruction, states that till 3.35 p. m. no sale has been held.

Matter to appear in the list on February 7, 2011.”

15. On February 7, 2011, her Ladyship passed the following order :

“Interim order granted is extended till ten weeks.

Directions are given for filing affidavits.

Affidavit-in-opposition be filed within four weeks from date ; reply thereto, if any, be filed within two weeks thereafter.

Matter to appear in the list seven weeks hence.

Instructions filed by counsel for the respondent authorities be kept on record. A copy whereof be handed over to counsel for the petitioners.”

16. The purchaser in the auction, M/s. S.M. Viniyog Pvt. Ltd., hereinafter referred to as the purchaser, has taken out the application being G. A. No. 613 of 2011 for being added as party to the second writ petition, that is, W.P. No. 128 of 2011 and has also prayed for vacating of the orders dated February 4, 2011, and February 7, 2011.

17. In spite of directions in the main writ petitions no affidavit-in-opposition has been filed by the income-tax authorities. The records pertaining to the order of compulsory acquisition were, however, produced pursuant to the orders of this court, and this court perused the same.

18. In the first writ petition, it is alleged that the petitioner had availed of credit facility of Rs. 15 lakhs from Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. in 1986 and the said premises had been offered to Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. as collateral security for the said credit facility. The Income-tax Department misconstrued the collateral security arrangement as a sale and took possession of the said premises by purporting to exercise right of pre-emption.

19. The aforesaid allegation contradicts the petitioner’s own statement in Form 37-I filed in terms of section 269UC(1) of the Income-tax Act, and cannot, therefore, be accepted.

20. Mr. Abhrajit Mitra, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner, emphatically argued that the impugned order of compulsory acquisition dated August 14, 2001, stood abrogated and the said premises had revested in petitioner No. 1, by reason of the failure of the Central Government to tender the consideration to petitioner No. 1, within the time stipulated in section 269UG of the Income-tax Act.

21. Mr. Mitra submitted that the consideration had not been tendered to petitioner No. 1, within the time stipulated in section 269UG. Moreover, the Appropriate Authority had incorrectly calculated the area of the said premises at 6000 sq. ft. and had accordingly determined the consideration for the said premises at Rs. 18 lakhs at the rate of Rs. 300 per square feet.

22. Mr. Mitra submitted that in the newspaper publications on October 8, 2003, and October 12, 2003, for auction of the said premises, the total area had been specified as 6692.19 sq. ft. excluding common areas.

23. Mr. Mitra submitted that the total floor area was actually 7581 sq. ft. Reliance has in this context been placed on the report of a private approved valuer, a copy whereof has been annexed to the first writ petition.

24. Mr. Mitra argued that the area of the first floor and the area of the second floor was the same, as pleaded in paragraph 8 of the first writ petition. The second floor had been surveyed, measured and valued by a receiver appointed by this court sometime in the year 1990 and the area was found to be 7581 sq. ft.

25. Mr. Mitra argued that the concerned authorities were obliged to calculate the consideration, taking the area as 7,581 sq. ft. and pay Rs. 4,50,000 more, which had not been done.

26. The consideration for the said premises was taken as Rs. 18 lakhs as pleaded in paragraph 13 of the first writ petition. The petitioner was offered a sum of Rs. 3 lakhs being the balance consideration after payment to Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. of the amount paid by Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. to petitioner No. 1. Admittedly, the petitioner refused to accept the cheque of Rs. 3 lakhs, which was returned to the Income-tax Department.

27. Mr. Mitra submitted that section 269UG casts an obligation on the Central Government to tender full consideration to the person or persons entitled thereto, within a period of one month from the date of the impugned order of compulsory acquisition. If any person entitled to the consideration, did not consent to receive the consideration or any part thereof, or if there was any dispute as to the title to receive the consideration, the Central Government was required to deposit the amount of consideration with the Appropriate Authority within the aforesaid period of one month.

28. Mr. Mitra referred to section 269UH of the Income-tax Act which provides that if the Central Government fails to tender under sub-section (1) of section 269UG or deposit under sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) of the said section, the whole or any part of the amount of consideration required to be tendered or deposited, thereunder within the period specified therein, in respect of any immovable property which had vested in the Central Government, the order to purchase the immovable property, made by the Central Government would stand abrogated and the immovable property would stand revested in the transferor. Mr. Mitra argued that upon expiry of one month from August 14, 2001, the order of compulsory acquisition lapsed and the said premises revested in the petitioner.

29. In support of his submission that the order of compulsory acquisition had lapsed and or stood abrogated, Mr. Mitra cited the judgments of the Supreme Court in Chand V. Raheja v. Union of India reported in [1996] 7 SCC 175 and in Union of India v. Dr. A.K. Garg [2002] 256 ITR 660 (SC); [2002] 10 SCC 392.

30. In Chand V. Raheja [1996] 7 SCC 175, cited by Mr. Mitra, a sum of Rs.50 lakhs out of the total consideration had been retained. The purchase under Chapter XX-C was set aside, rejecting the argument of the Revenue that since the agreement between the transferor and transferee enabled the transferee to retain Rs. 50 lakhs out of the total consideration, till delivery of vacant possession of the out houses, the Central Government could withhold Rs. 50 lakhs till it got vacant possession of those out houses.

31. The Supreme Court held as follows (page 177) :

“The plain language of section 269UG(1) leaves no doubt that in the facts and circumstances of the case, as a result of non-payment of the balance amount of Rs. 50 lakhs in terms of the express requirement of section 269UG(1), the failure of the Central Government has resulted in attracting section 269UH of the Act. Accordingly, the order dated January 27, 1994, made under section 269UD(1) by the Appropriate Authority stood abrogated and the property was re-vested in the transferor in terms of sub-section (1) of section 269UH of the Act with the other consequential results including those specified in sub-section (2) of section 269UH and sub-section (3) of section 269UL. It is not necessary to detail all the consequences which follow as a result thereof in terms of the Income-tax Act, 1961, and any other laws which may be applicable.”

32. In Union of India v. Dr. A.K. Garg [2002] 256 ITR 660 (SC) cited by Mr. Mitra, the Supreme Court found that the Chief Commissioner had been authorised to tender the amount to the person entitled. There was no material to show that the amount was actually tendered before June 30, 1993. Accordingly, the acquisition was set aside. The judgment is distinguishable on facts.

33. However, as rightly pointed out by Mr. S.N. Mookherjee, appearing on behalf of the applicant, section 269UF(1) of the Income-tax Act cast an obligation on the Central Government to pay by way of consideration, an amount equal to the amount of apparent consideration. “Apparent consideration” has been defined in section 269UA(b). In case of immovable property in respect of which an agreement for transfer is made, the consideration for such transfer as specified in the agreement, is the apparent consideration.

34. In the instant case, the said premises was agreed to be sold at a consideration of Rs. 18 lakhs as per the declaration made by petitioner No. 1 and Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. in the statement in Form 37-I.

35. As observed above, pursuant to the orders of this court, the records pertaining to the order of compulsory acquisition were produced. In the statutory statement filed in Form 37-I under section 269UC of the Income-tax Act read with rule 48L of the Income-tax Rules, petitioner No. 1 and Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. declared that the consideration was Rs.18 lakhs. The area of the said premises was shown as approximately 6000 sq. ft.

36. Under section 269UF, the Central Government was obliged to pay by way of consideration an amount equal to the amount of the apparent consideration. There is no infirmity in law in taking Rs. 18 lakhs as the apparent consideration on the basis of the statutory statement filed by petitioner No. 1 and/or its authorised representative. On the other hand, the concerned authorities were obliged to accept the consideration shown in the statement in Form 37-I as the apparent consideration.

37. The records produced reveal that a cheque of Rs. 34,80,750 was forwarded to Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. under cover of a letter dated September 28, 2001. The said Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. accepted and acknowledged payment. A cheque of Rs. 3 lakhs dated September 28, 2001, was also forwarded to the petitioner under cover of a letter dated September 28, 2001. Photocopies of the cheque and the covering letter were produced in court. The records reveal that the cheque was not accepted.

38. Mr. Mitra initially submitted, perhaps on instructions, that the cheque dated September 28, 2001, was not tendered to the petitioner. It was suggested that normally communications from the Income-tax Department are by registered post with acknowledgment due and not by messenger. Mr. Mitra argued that there was no reason why an exception should have been made in this case and personal service should have been attempted. It was insinuated that the respondent authorities were, as an afterthought, trying to cover up their lapse of not tendering the cheque by advancing the story of alleged attempt to tender personal service of the cheque.

39. It, however, appears that the cheque in favour of Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. was despatched in the same manner, Karnani Finance Enterprises Ltd. duly received the cheque. Even assuming that it is the usual practice to send communications by post, there is no reason to impute any motive to deviation, if any, from usual practice. The cheque was dated September 28, 2001. The cheque, which was of high value, had to be tendered within September 30, 2001, failing which the compulsory acquisition would stand abrogated. Recourse to service by special messenger could well have been taken to ensure service, and within time.

40. In this context, it would be significant to note that the petitioner have, in the second writ petition, annexed a communication No. AA/Kol/124/October, 1986/283 dated July 3/4, 2002, from the Appropriate Authority wherein there is a categorical assertion that a cheque dated September 28, 2001, for Rs. 3 lakhs had been sent to the petitioner. There is no contemporaneous or even subsequent denial of the assertion made in the communication. There was no communication from the petitioner objecting to tender of the cheque beyond time.

41. The correspondence disclosed and in particular the contemporaneous correspondence does not show that the point that the consideration was not tendered to the petitioner had ever been taken at any earlier stage.

42. Mr. Mitra later argued that the cheque was not accepted as the full amount had not been tendered. In any case, even assuming that the petitioner had refused to accept the consideration, the Central Government was obliged to deposit the full amount of consideration with the Appropriate Authority. Unless the full consideration was deposited with the Appropriate Authority, the compulsory acquisition would stand abrogated.

43. The cheque dated September 28, 2001, which was produced in court was issued to petitioner No. 1 by the Appropriate Authority. As rightly pointed out by the learned Additional Solicitor General appearing on behalf of the income-tax authorities and Mr. S. N. Mookherjee, appearing on behalf of the purchasers, the cheque could be issued by the Appropriate Authority, obviously because the entire amount had been deposited with the Appropriate Authority.

44. Under section 269UG(1), the full consideration has to be tendered within a period of one month from the end of the month in which the immovable property vests in the Central Government, and not within one month from the date of vesting, as argued by Mr. Mitra. The consideration thus had to be tendered within one month from August 31, 2001, that is, within September 30, 2001. The cheque was apparently tendered on September 28, 2001, that is, within a period of one month from the end of the month in which the said premises vested in the Central Government as required under section 269UG(1).

45. Section 269UG(1) provides that the amount of consideration payable in accordance with the provisions of section 269UF shall be tendered to the person or persons entitled thereto, within the time stipulated in the said section. The section does not provide that the Central Government should itself tender the requisite amount to the persons entitled. It is open to the Central Government to tender payment through the Appropriate Authority.

46. Sub-section (3) of section 269UG provides that notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1) if a person entitled to the amount of consideration does not consent to receive it, or if there is any dispute as to the title to receive the amount of consideration, the Central Government shall deposit with the Appropriate Authority the amount of consideration required to be tendered under sub-section (1), within the period specified therein. There is no bar in law to depositing the consideration with the Appropriate Authority in advance and making payment through the Appropriate Authority.

47. This court is unable to accept the submission that the consideration could only be deposited with the Appropriate Authority, if the consideration had been tendered to the person or persons entitled and the person or persons so entitled, or any of them had refused to accept the same.

48. It is well-established that a statutory provision should be interpreted reasonably and not in a manner that makes the same absurd and unworkable. Section 269UG(1) has been enacted to protect the owner of the property and/or in other words to avoid a situation where the Government might, after passing an order of acquisition, indefinitely delay the payment on one ground or the other including the ground of want of funds, want of sanction to release the funds and the like. The section, therefore, provides for lapse of acquisition upon failure to make deposit within one month from the end of the month in which order for compulsory acquisition had been made.

49. Tendering of the apparent consideration to the entitled persons even at the last working hour of the last day would amount to compliance with the requisites of the section. It could not have been the intention of the statute that proceedings should lapse even if there were no laches on the part of the Revenue, for refusal of owners or others entitled to consideration to accept consideration on the last day, at the close of working hours, rendering deposit with the Appropriate Authority impossible. In my view it is permissible for the Central Government to make a deposit with the Appropriate Authority in advance to avoid lapse of compulsory acquisition.

50. The writ applications fail and the same are dismissed. The application being G. A. No. 613 of 2011 is also disposed of.

51. Interim order, if any, stands vacated.

52. Urgent certified copy of this order, if applied for, be supplied to the parties upon compliance with all requisite formalities.

[Citation : 337 ITR 425]

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