ATWO-JUDGE BENCH OF THE SUPREME COURT IN LILAWATI Agarwal (dead) by LRs. and others v. State of Jharkhand [2008 (15) SCC 464], after referring to the paragraphs 31 and 34 of the pronouncement in Union of India and Another v. Raghubir Singh (dead) by LRs. etc. [JT 1989 (2) SC 427], expressed doubt with regard to the correctness of the decision in K.S. Paripoornan (II) v. State of Kerala and others [1995 (1) SCC 367] and eventually expressed thus:
In Raghubir Singh case two terminus points were fixed i.e. award by the Collector or decision of the Reference Court must have been taken between 3.4.1982 and 24.9.1984. It has been clearly stated in the last line of para 34 that every case “must” have been decided between the aforesaid terminus. In Paripoornan II case at para 4 it was observed that restrictive interpretation should not be given. With great respect we are unable to subscribe to the view. As a matter of fact a three-Judge Bench was trying to give an interpretation different from what was specifically given by the Constitution Bench.
Therefore, we think it appropriate to refer the matter to a larger Bench to consider correctness of the view expression in para 4 in Paripoornan II case holding that a restricted interpretation should not be given, on the face of what has been stated in para 34 of Raghubir Singh case. Records may be placed before the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India for necessary details. On the basis of aforesaid order, the matter was placed before the three Judge Bench of Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court accepted the appeal and directed that the appellant shall be entitled to the benefit as stated in the judgement and decree passed by the High Court which stands modified. The respondents were directed to deposit the amount before the executing court within six weeks.
The operative part of the judgement read as under :
On a perusal of the principle stated in Raghubir Singh case and what has been clarified in K.S. Paripoornan (II) case, we do not find that the three- Judge Bench decision runs counter to the authority in the Constitution Bench. It also does not give a different interpretation to Section 30(2) that what has been stated by the Constitution Bench. In fact, K.S. Paripoornan (II) clearly postulates about the awards that have been passed by the court after the Act has come into force which is in consonance with the ratio laid down in Raghubir Singh’s case. The three-Judge Bench has only observed that the restricted interpretation placed by the Constitution Bench in Raghubir Singh (supra) should not convey that Section 23(2) would not apply to the awards of the civil court pending at the time when the Act came into force or thereafter. Thus, the controversy with which the three-Judge Bench was dealing with was absolutely different and the view expressed by it is absolutely in accord with the principles laid down in Raghubir Singh’s case. Additionally, it is also in consonance with the provisions contained in Section 23(2) of the Act. Therefore, we do not see any reason to disagree with the view expressed in K.S. Paripoornan (II) as we are of the convinced opinion that it has appositely understood the rule exposited in Raghubir Singh’s case.
Having so stated, ordinarily we would have directed the matter to be placed before a two-Judge Bench, but is not necessary to do so. We have been apprised at the Bar that the award in this case had been passed by the reference court on 30th September, 1985. Therefore, there cannot be any trace of doubt that principle stated in K.S. Paripoornan (II) would squarely be applicable.
The High Court by the impugned judgement has opined that the principle stated in the K.S. Paripoornan (II) (supra) would not be applicable. The said view is perceptibly erroneous. We are of the considered opinion that the appellant shall be entitled to the benefits as per the law laid down in K.S. Paripoornan (II). It is not disputed at the Bar that the appellants are not entitled to the benefits under Section 23(1A) in view of the decision in K.S. Paripoornan (I) v. State of Kerala [JT 1994 (6) SC 182].
Authorities relied upon : 1995 (1) SCC 367, 1985 (1) SCC 582, 1985 (3) SCC 737, CivilAppeal No. 3267 of 1979 decided on May 1, 1985.
Reference : Supreme Court. Lilawati Agarwal (D) By LRs. and others v. State of Jharkhand, civil appeal no. 1363 of 2007 (from the Judgement and Order dated 19.2.2003 of the High Court of Jharkhand at Ranchi in Appeal from Original Decree No. 32 and 33 of 1986).