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Present: Lord Macnaghten, Lord Mersey, and Lord Moulton.MUNASINGHE et al. v. THE ASSISTANTGOVERNMENT AGENT, PUTTALAM.D. C. Puttalam, 12.’
Reference under the Waete Lands Ordinance—Agreement between theplaintiffs and the prawn to abide by the finding of a suresyor as tothe age of the forest on the various lots—Mukalana to be declaredpropertyof Crown,’-and forest under fifteenyears propertyof
In thismatter, which wasa proceeding underthe Waste Lands
Ordinance,decree wasenteredof consent of parties mi March28,
1904, whereby, inter alia, it .was- ordered that a survey should bemade – by Mr. Beebee, and ” thattheCrownshould be andis hereby
declared owner of all extents oflandfoundby him to bemukalana,.
chena, orforest abovefifteenyears of age; andin respect ofthe
remainder thereof, whether abandoned fields, gardens, chena, orforest under fifteen years, it is declared – that the plaintiffs beadjudged the owners thereof on payment by them to the Crownof a sum of Bs. 10 per acre.”
The Surveyor-General, after the surveyor’s death, forwarded toCourt, what purported to be a“ survey ofthe- landinexecution • of
th6 commission.’’ The defendant took noexceptiontothe return;,
and the plaintiffs when calledupon deposited in Court” value due
to the Crown for certain lots in accordance with the terms of thedecree.” The defendant then moved the Court’ for an adjudicationand investigation “as to whatlotsshownin the surveyshould be
declared to be the property ofthe Crownand whattobe those of
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the plaintiffs in terms of the decree of March 28, 1904,” andcontended thatthe surveyor’# return was faulty. The plaintiffs
urged that .the Crown was estopped from challenging the returnby having “called upon the plaintiffs to pay the value of the lotsin terms of the surveyor’s return. The Supreme Court in reviewheld that the defendant was not estopped by bis conduct from■■ challenging the return.
Held, by the Privy Council, that Mr. Beebee’s return to thereference made to him was an award conclusive on the matterreferred to him, and quite intelligible, whether it was or was notaccurate in the opinion of other surveyors, and that there was ‘noquestion of estoppel between the parties.
HE facts are set out in the judgments in review of the SupremeCourt (13 N. L. II. 129).
November 19, 1912. Delivered bv Lord Macnaghtjsn :—
Their Lordships think that the decree of March 28, 1904, was, asstated on the face of it, a final decree, and that, after having pro-nounced that decree, the Court was not further concerned with thematter, without prejudice of course to any application that mightbe made to carry the decree into effect.
■ Their Lordships think that Mr. Beebee’s return to the referencemade to him by consent was an award conclusive on the matterreferred to him, and quite intelligible whether it was or was notaccurate in the opinion of other surveyors.
They think that all the proceedings since the decree, and especiallythe examination of persons brought forward by the Crown to saythat Mr. Beebee made mistakes, were altogether irregular, and thatthe costs of those proceedings must be borne by the Crown.
They also think that there is not and never was any question ofestoppel between the parties.
The compromise between the parties, as expressed, Beems to beperfectly clear, and appears to involve an obligation on the part ofthe Crown to convey to the claimants the land not awarded to theCrown. The “ remainder ” was to go to the claimants.
The money paid into Court to answer the purchase money andthe usual fees will be paid to the Crown.
Their Lordships are of opinion that the appeal should be allowed,the Crown by their counsel consenting on payment of the purchasemoney, which is now represented by the money in Court, and theusual fees, to execute conveyances to the claimants or as they maydirect.
Their Lordships think that the Crown ought to pay the costs ofthis appeal and the costs incurred in the Court below since the dateof the decree. Their Lordships will humbly advise His Majestyaccordingly.