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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, must proceed sequentially. First, the factum of an Award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, must be clearly established. The said Award must predate the commencement of the Act, i.e., 01.01.2014., by at least five years (or more), ie., the Award must have been passed on or before 01.01.2009. This having been established, if possession is found to not have been taken, or compensation not paid, then the proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed. Thereafter, the appropriate Government, if it so chooses, may reinitiate acquisition proceedings in respect of the same land, but under the 2013 Act's regime. These Appeals assail one Judgment and an Order [passed in light of that Judgment] of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court, which had allowed the Writ Petitions before it, and declared that the acquisitions had lapsed for the reason that the possession had not been taken and compensation, too, not paid. This is sufficient ground for granting the protection envisaged by Section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

 


                                                               REPORTABLE



                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2592     of 2015
                  [Arising out of SLP(C)No. 33569 of 2014]


GOVT.OF NCT OF DELHI AND ORS               ..      APPELLANT

                                   VERSUS

JAGJIT SINGH AND ORS                             .. RESPONDENTS

                                   W I T H

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2586     of 2015
                  [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 2125 of 2015]

                                   W I T H

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2587     of 2015
                  [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 2122 of 2015]

                                   W I T H

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2588     of 2015
                   [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 390 of 2015]


GOVT.OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS.             ..APPELLANTS

                                   VERSUS

SUDHAR SAMITI RAJIV NAGAR EXT (REGD.)
AND ORS.                                           ..RESPONDENTS

                                    WITH

                     CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2589     of 2015
                   [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 384 of 2015]

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 2590   of 2015
                   [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 393 of 2015]

                                    WITH

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2591   of 2015
                   [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 383 of 2015]

                                    WITH

                      CIVIL APPEAL NO.  2593    of 2015
                  [Arising out of SLP(C) No. 2724 of 2015]



                               J U D G M E N T

VIKRAMAJIT SEN, J.

1        Any  determination  under  Section  24(2)  of  the  Right  to  Fair
Compensation  and  Transparency  in  Land  Acquisition  Rehabilitation   and
Resettlement Act, 2013, must proceed sequentially. First, the factum  of  an
Award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894,  must  be  clearly
established.  The said Award must  predate  the  commencement  of  the  Act,
i.e., 01.01.2014., by at least five years (or more),  ie.,  the  Award  must
have been passed on or before 01.01.2009.  This having been established,  if
possession is found to not have been taken, or compensation not  paid,  then
the proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed. Thereafter, the  appropriate
Government, if it so chooses,  may  reinitiate  acquisition  proceedings  in
respect of the same land, but under the 2013 Act's regime.



2      Each  and  every  deeming  operation  under  Section  24(2)  requires
unambiguously and unvaryingly that a factual conclusion be drawn  about  the
passing of the Award under Section  11,  of  the  1894  Act,  on  or  before
01.01.2009; further, the absence of compensation having  been  paid  or  the
absence of possession having been taken by the acquirer,  either  of  these,
must be a proven point of fact, as a threshold  requirement  attracting  the
lapse.



3     This Court has in a  number  of  decisions  including  Pune  Municipal
Corporation vs. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki  (2014)  3 SCC  183,  Union  of
India vs. Shiv Raj (2014) 6 SCC 564 and Bimla Devi  vs.  State  of   Haryana
(2014)  6  SCC  583,  clarified the manner in which the new provision is  to
be interpreted viz., that the acquisition lapses.


4     It has been contended in other Appeals  before  this  Court  that  the
Right  to  Fair  Compensation  and   Transparency   in   Land   Acquisition,
Rehabilitation and Settlement Ordinance,  2014,  issued  on  31st  December,
2014, clarifies that if possession of the acquired land has not  been  taken
owing to interim Orders  passed  in  this  regard  the  acquisition  may  be
protected and insulated from the purpose and intendment  of  Section  24  of
the 2013 Act.   This Court has now clarified in Radiance Fincap (P) Ltd.  v.
Union of India & Ors. [Civil Appeal No. 4283 of 2011 decided on  12.01.2015]
that the Ordinance  shall  have  prospective  operation  only.   This  Court
therein held as under:
"The right conferred to the land holders/owners of the acquired  land  under
Section 24(2) of the Act is the statutory right  and,  therefore,  the  said
right cannot be taken away by an  Ordinance  by  inserting  proviso  to  the
abovesaid sub-Section without giving retrospective effect to the same."

The legal position has been subsequently reiterated by this Court in  Arvind
Bansal v. State of Haryana (Civil Appeal  Nos.417-418  of  2015  decided  on
13.01.2015) and Karnail Kaur v. State of Punjab [Civil Appeal  No.  7424  of
2013 decided on 22.01.2015].  We are in respectful agreement with all  these
decisions.   In the event that there is no ambiguity that (a) the  Award  is
over five years old and (b) that compensation has not been paid or (c)  that
possession of the land has not been taken, the acquisition is liable  to  be
quashed.   In Rajiv Chowdhrie HUF v. Union of India  [Civil  Appeal  No.8786
of 2013, decided on 06.02.2015], noting that the physical possession of  the
land had not been taken by the Respondents, nor  compensation  paid  by  the
Respondents to the Appellant in respect whereof  the  Award  was  passed  on
6.08.2007, the acquisition proceedings had been declared as  having  lapsed.
 The same position was arrived at in Rajiv Chowdhrie HUF v. Union  of  India
in Civil Appeal No.8785 of 2013 decided on 10.12.2014 by a  different  Bench
of this Court.


5     These Appeals assail one Judgment and an Order  [passed  in  light  of
that Judgment] of a Division Bench  of  the  Delhi  High  Court,  which  had
allowed the Writ Petitions before it, and  declared  that  the  acquisitions
had lapsed for the reason  that  the  possession  had  not  been  taken  and
compensation, too, not paid.   This is sufficient ground  for  granting  the
protection envisaged by Section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.



6     The Appeals are dismissed in the above terms.






.......................................J.
[VIKRAMAJIT SEN]



....................................................J
[SHIVA KIRTI SINGH]
New Delhi,
February 27, 2015.

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