Appeal (civil) 4570 of 2006 Gurpreet Singh Vs Union of India

on the whole, we are satisfied that the essential ratio in the Prem Nath Kapur (supra) on appropriation being at different stages is justified though if at a particular stage there is a shortfall, the awardee decree holder would be entitled to appropriate the same on the general principle of appropriation, first towards interest, then towards costs and then towards the principal, unless, of course, the deposit is indicated to be towards specified heads by the judgment debtor while making the deposit intimating the decree-holder of his intention. We, thus, approve the ratio of Prem Nath Kapur (supra) on the aspect of appropriation.

44. One other question also was sought to be raised and answered by this Bench though not referred to it. Considering that the question arises in various cases pending in Courts all over the country, we permitted counsel to address us on that question. That question is whether in the light of the decision in Sunder (supra), the awardee/decree holder would be entitled to claim interest on solatium in execution though it is not specifically granted by the decree. It is well settled that an execution court cannot go behind the decree. If, therefore, the claim for interest on solatium had been made and the same has been negatived either expressly or by necessary implication by the judgment or decree of the reference court or of the appellate court, the execution court will have necessarily to reject the claim for interest on solatium based on Sunder (supra) on the ground that the execution court cannot go behind the decree. But if the award of the reference court or that of the appellate court does not specifically refer to the question of interest on solatium or in cases where claim had not been made and rejected either expressly or impliedly by the reference court or the appellate court, and merely interest on compensation is awarded, then it would be open to the execution court to apply the ratio of Sunder (supra) and say that the compensation awarded includes solatium and in such an event interest on the amount could be directed to be deposited in execution. Otherwise, not. We also clarify that such interest on solatium can be claimed only in pending executions and not in closed executions and the execution court will be entitled to permit its recovery from the date of the judgment in Sunder (September 19, 2001) and not for any prior period. We also clarify that this will not entail any re-appropriation or fresh appropriation by the decree-holder. This we have indicated by way of clarification also in exercise of our power under Articles 141 and 142 of the Constitution of India with a view to avoid multiplicity of litigation on this question.

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