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The Government Agent, Southern Province, v. Silva te al.
D. C., Gaik, 3,127.
Reference under the Land Acquisition Ordinance—How opinions of
assessors are to be recorded—Market value—Tests for ascertaining it.
In a trial on a reference under the Land Acquisition Ordinance forthe purpose of ascertaining the market value of the land acquired,each assessor must give his opinion orally, and such opinion mustbe recorded by the judge, so that the Appeal Court may have beforeit the independent opinion of each assessor.
Bonseb, C. J.—■The market value of a house does not depend onthe money expended on it, nor on the difficulties which had to beovercome in building it.
Withers, J.—The market value of any given land depends on itsextent, situation, relative position, and its adaptability for anyparticular use; also upon the rent and rate of interest obtainingin the district.
Among the tests of the market value of a piece of land are theprice which anyone would give for it at a public auotion and theprice given at recent sales for lands similarly situated.
r I ''HIS was a case under the Land Acquisition Ordinance. TheJ- amount of compensation for .the land acquired by Govern-ment and awarded by the Government Agent having been refusedby the defendants, the Government Agent referred the matter tothe District Court. The defendants duly appeared and nominatedtheir assessor, as the plaintiff did his. On the 8th July, 1895, the
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1898. case came on for trial. The line of inquiry adopted to determineAugust19. the compensation payable to plaintiff proceeded on the value of(1) the bare soil of the land, (2) each of the buildings on it,allowing so much for material and so much for labour, and (3)each of the trees that stood on the soil, and also (4) on the ‘expenses of the owner’s removal to another residence. There wasalso some evidence as to recent sales in the vicinity.
The Government Agent for the Southern Province (Mr. levers)deposed as follows :—
In July, 1894, I was Acting Government Agent, Southern Province,and acquired this'piece of land for the Matara railway. It is G 440 inpreliminary plan 4,054, which I produce. The extent acquired is 18perches. The building on it consisted of four buildings on fou sides of aquadrangle. We assessed them separately. I ordered the PattuMudaliyar to make an appraisement, and he submitted it, and I wentto the-land twice. The Mudaliyar’s valuation I approved of, and I addedsomething for forcible acquisition: that is, for southern buildingRs. 462- 45, to which I added Rs. 37’ 52, making Rs. 500 ; for northernbuilding Rs. 428’ 95, to which I added Rs. 51- 05, making Rs. 480 ; forwestern building Rs. 215*52, to which I added Rs. 34*48, makingRs. 250; for the eastern building Rs. 253, to which I added Rs. 27,making Rs. 280. I valued the bare soil atRs. 600 an acre, and acceptedthe Mudaliyar’s valuation, Rs. 86* 72, for plantation. In considering itreasonable I gave 10 per cent, on value of spil and plantation forseverance. I also gave 60 cents for a piece of wall. I also allowedRs. 168 for expenses of removal. The total of compensation, excludingRs. 168, was Rs. 1,680* 24, and I added 10 per cent, as compensation forremoval, which would allow Rs. 20 rent for six months, leaving Rs. 48for removal of furniture. Total tendered, Rs. 1,848* 24. I awardedthat on 30th July, 1894. I consider my award ample, considering whatI paid for other property along the line.
Cross-examined.—Ahangama is fairly thickly populated. The plandoes not show the extent of land left: on the south-west was a piece leftbetween the railway and road. That is shown on the plan. Theother side is a larger piece. I do not know whether the road is a minorroad or a Gansabhawa road. I made no separate estimate of trees ormaterials (shown a plan). The measurements in this plan do notcorrespond with the measurements taken for me. I only checked onemeasurement, the front wall of the northern house. My notes do notshow which measurements refer to which house. I do not remember alarge jak tree.
Mr. Tillekeratne, the Mudaliyar of Talpe, deposed as follows:—
I am Mudaliyar of Talpe, and have been so for three years. This landis in it. On Government Agent’s order I went to the land with fiveheadmen and a mason and a carpenter. I and the headman estimatedthe land and the trees. The trees were :—
Rs. c. Rs. c.
2 cocoanut, 25 years 30 0 1 imbul 0 50
1 imbul 1 50 1 jak loo
1 anona 1 0 1 cocoanut 10 0
1 cocoanut, 35 years 12 0 1 plantain 0 72
1 cocoanut, 30 years 10 0 1 mi .. 4 0 86 72
2 cocoanut. 10 years 7 0
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and we valued the bare soil at- Rs. 600 per acre. That is similar to wbat 1608.others in Ahangama accepted. I think a garden planted like that August JO.
without building is worth Rs. 1,000 an acre in Ahangama. Six or seven
months before this lot was acquired for Government, Governmentacquired two lots in the high road at Ahangama. I do not rememberthe rate. 1 also appraised the buildings with the aid of the mason andthe carpenter. Three of the buildings appeared very old and one new;that was valued by me at Rs. 253—the eastern building. I got themason and carpenter to estimate what each of those buildings wouldcost to build. I adopted their valuation, wbiob was :—
Two houses were of wattle and daub and two of sun-dried brick. Cocoa-nut rafters and some jak rafters in the outer verandah. Of the southernbuilding, the reepers of veraniya, the wallplates were in some plaoe ofjak. There is one* small piece of land left. One side of the railwaycorresponded with the boundary of the land on the piece left, south ofthe line. There are seven cocoanut trees and a breadfruit tree. Iconsider my valuation is fair valuation. I think the market value ofthe northern building was Rs. 350, western Rs. 150, southern Rs. 400,eastern Rs. 200. There were two yards mud wall valued at 60 cents.
Cross-examined,.—I never offered to buy a land or house at Ahangama.The piece of wall was where the railway passed, leaving wall on each side.To make a boundary wall you have to go the length of the railway. Itwas 3 ft. by 1 ft. The mason and carpenter are not paid by me. Theheadmen are paid—the vidane arachchi and pattu arachchi. Thenorthern house is 27 ft. 6 in., at outside of verandah, long and 27 wide.It consisted of two rooms with a hall in front. There were jak andcocoanut wallplates, veraniya reepers, jakwood doorframes and doors,and two windows of jak. I cannot remember whether panelled or not.The front door I valued at Rs. 20, two minor doors Rs. 20, two windowsRs. 30. Common iron hinges. The southern house had five doors, twolarge and three small, and one large window, all of jakwood. All ironhinges. The wallplates were jak, the beams cocoanut and jak, delreepers. The western house or kitchen had two doors, jak frames and'shutters of del. I valued each at Rs. 7' 50. The eastern house hasthree doors and four windows. The eastern house was closed when Iwent there. It appeared to have been occupied. I was told that onefamily occupied the northern and southern house. There was a gooddeal of furniture. The doors and windows were painted. The imbultree was not old enough to yield cotton—only the size of the ordinarybamboo. The mi tree must have been very smal 1 by my valuation. Nococoanut tree there was worth more than Rs. 15. I had given more atAhangama. Trees come into bearing in five or six years there. Thesoil on that lot is not bad. The two cocoanut trees (ten years) had notcome into bearing, they must have been-in bad ground. The jak treeis down in my notes 2 cubits in growth and 4 yards long. I cannotexplain that. I cannot remember whether it was bearing. You canbuy a good size jakfruit for 6 cents. I think the tree was fit for timber.
Re-examined.—It is hilly ground. The foundation was cut out of theslope.
After hearing other witnesses the District Judge recorded asfollows;—
Southern houseNorthern house
462 48 Western house (a kitchen) 215 25428 95 Eastern house..253 0
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For jak tree addFor mi tree addFor coooanut trees addFor imbul trees add '
He approves of the Government Agent’s award for severance and forremoval to other residence and for the piece of wall, and finds no additionnecessary. After consideration of the items in the two estimates of thevalue of the buildings Mr. Jayasekera is of opinion that Rs. 1,674*75should be allowed, being an increase of Rs. 164* 75 on GovernmentAgent’s award. Total to be added to award Rs. 273* 75.
Mr. Erskiae is of opinion that the award is sufficient, considering asregards the land and plantation the evidence of recent sales in thevioinity, and considering the ideal value which should be set onMr. Senanayaka’s quantities. Mr. Erskine estimates the cost of buildingthe houses as described at Rs. 1,499* 75.
And then the District Judge gave judgment as follows :—
Having fully considered the case, and having spent two hours with theassessors over the two estimates of the value of the houses, I find that theGovernment Agent’s award is sufficient. The assessors agreed as to allthe items in Mr. Senanayaka’s estimate except one, viz., the value of theroughly-shaped lumps of clay, earth, and sand, which are here calledsun-dried bricks. Mr. Jayasekera values them at Rs. 40 per 1,000 andMr. Erskine at Rs. 10, so that for Mr. Senanayaka’s 25 cubes of what hecalls dry brick walling Mr. Jayasekara would give Rs. 425, whileMr. Erskine would give only Rs. 250. Now, considering that dry brickscan be bought for Rs. 7* 50 a thousand and half-round burnt tiles forRs. 6 a thousand, I feel sure that these sun-dried bricks are not worthmore than Rs. 10. It is true they are much larger, but the skill andlabour expended on them are very much less. I therefore agree withMr. Erskine as regards the value of soil and plantation. I am ofopinion that the best way of ascertaining the value of a garden is tofind out what other gardens in the vicinity have recently been sold for.Now the claimants give us two instances. Witness Sudatapala boughtquarter of an acre for Rs. 350, whioh is equivalent to Rs. 1,400 an acre,and witness Matbes says, Tegris six months ago bought two-thirds of anacre for Rs. 450, which is equivalent to Rs. 678 an acre. The mean isRs. 1,037* 50 an acre. The Government Agent has given Rs. 1,370 anacre.
It is true that Sudatapala says he had to buy out certain other peopleat a cost of Rs. 1,500, but what is in the deed is Rs. 350 ; and as he sayshe has been cheated by the people be bought out, and yet has not takensteps to eject them, I cannot credit this statement.
Mr. Senanayaka’s estimate is clearly a Public Works Departmentestimate. I have no doubt his quantities are right, but his rates arenecessarily not in any way adapted to work done by and for villagers intheir village. As regards the very large item Rs. 612 for cutting andlevelling, we have preferred to adopt the estimate of Mr. Church, theRailway Engineer, who must be presumed to know the ground andwhat it has cost him to make his cuttings. We therefore disallowedRs. 612 and substituted Rs. 70.
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Mr. Senanayaka stated that he valued the buildings as they stood,but I am unable to give credit to the statement for two reasons : (1)He has, as in all Public Works Department estimates for new work,added 10 per cent, contingencies; and (2) he palpably in his evidenceshuffled out of a difficulty into which the Court had put him about hisrates for roofing, at first saying that he stated from Public WorksDepartment rates for cocoanut rafters and jak reapers Rs. 36 anddeducted Rs. 6 for veraniya reepers, and then making a quite differentstatement in order to bring in Rs. 4 for depreciation. He is evidentlyvery ready at mental arithmetic-
On the other items we are all agreed. I find that the sum awardedby the Government Agent is sufficient and proper compensation for theproperty aoquired in this case, and I award that sum accordingly.
The claimants (first and second) will pay all costs, including Rs. '50, toeach assessor.
The defendants appealed.
Seneviratne and Wendt, for appellants.
Chitty, C.C., for the respondent.
19th August, 1898. Bonser, C.J.—
I see no reason to interfere with this assessment. At the sametime I should like to say that it is a mistake to imagine that themarket value of a house depends upon the expenditure on it.I see that one of the witnesses who valued the house added thesum of Rs. 40-75 for levelling the ground for the foundation, asthough the market value was increased by reason of the diffi-culties which had to be overcome in the course of building. Thatprinciple seems to have been accepted on both sides withoutdemur. I should also wish to call attention to the fact that theDistrict Judge did not follow the provisions of the Ordinance ashe ought to have done.
Section 24 is quite clear that each assessor is to give his opinionorally. That is to be recorded in writing by the District Judge.In the present case the District Judge appears to have writtena long opinion, in which one of the assessors concurred and whichhe signed. The other assessor was allowed to put in a writtenstatement. I do not see why the provisions of the Ordinanceshould not be complied with. The Appeal Court wishes to knowthe independent opinion of the assessors. At present we havebefore us only the opinion of one assessor and the opinion of theDistrict Judge. There is not the independent opinion of the otherassessor.
I have heard nothing to satisfy me that the amount awardedby way of compensation for the land acquired by Government isnot fair and just. Indeed, I have heard so little of the kind of
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August 19.Withers, J.
evidence which one expects to be given in an inquiry about themarket value of a piece of land, that I venture to repeat some ofthe observations which I made in a judgment in a cause of thekind which came up in appeal from the District Court of Badullain October, 1896.
The value of a piece of land cannot be determined so easily asthat of a commodity like rice, for instance, which has a recognizedmarket price. The value of any given land depends on- its extent,situation, relative position, and its adaptability for any particularuse. This value may again be affected by the use made of theproperty immediately adjoining it. Given all the surroundingcircumstances, What is the best use to which the land can be put.?is I think a fair question to be asked in a case of the kind.
Then, what are the tests of the market value of a piece, of land ?One that naturally suggests itself is the price which any onewould give for it at a public auction. Another test is the pricegiven at recent sales for pieces of land similarly situated, butthe value of this test altogether depends on the circumstancesattending such sales.
The rent and the rate of interest obtaining in the district arealso material for computing the market value.
These rules are not of course exhaustive, but I think that theyindicate the line of inquiry to be taken in similar cases.