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Saturday, September 10, 2016

Section 24(2) of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “the 2013 Act”). We are constrained to observe that we are hearing these matters despite the fact that the law has been settled in Pune Municipal Corporation v. H.M. Solanki, 2014 (3) SCC 183, which is now stare decisis in that it has been followed in a large number of judgments[1].= “(i) No hard-and-fast rule can be laid down as to what act would constitute taking of possession of the acquired land. (ii) If the acquired land is vacant, the act of the State authority concerned to go to the spot and prepare a panchnama will ordinarily be treated as sufficient to constitute taking of possession. (iii) If crop is standing on the acquired land or building/structure exists, mere going on the spot by the authority concerned will, by itself, be not sufficient for taking possession. Ordinarily, in such cases, the authority concerned will have to give notice to the occupier of the building/structure or the person who has cultivated the land and take possession in the presence of independent witnesses and get their signatures on the panchnama. Of course, refusal of the owner of the land or building/structure may not lead to an inference that the possession of the acquired land has not been taken. (iv) If the acquisition is of a large tract of land, it may not be possible for the acquiring/designated authority to take physical possession of each and every parcel of the land and it will be sufficient that symbolic possession is taken by preparing appropriate document in the presence of independent witnesses and getting their signatures on such document. (v) If beneficiary of the acquisition is an agency/instrumentality of the State and 80% of the total compensation is deposited in terms of Section 17(3-A) and substantial portion of the acquired land has been utilised in furtherance of the particular public purpose, then the court may reasonably presume that possession of the acquired land has been taken.” [para 27] As the present case will fall within sub-paragraph (ii), physical possession of the land can be said to have been taken on the facts of the present case. Having regard to the law declared in the Pune Municipal Corporation case, as followed by the other judgments of this Court, we are of the opinion that the High Court is correct and that the impugned judgment calls for no interference. The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                        CIVIL APPEAL NO.5811 OF 2015



DELHI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY                …APPELLANT



                             Versus



SUKHBIR SINGH & OTHERS                ...RESPONDENTS

                                    WITH

                       CIVIL APPEAL NO. 8857  OF 2016
               (ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) No. 28304 of 2015)



                               J U D G M E N T

R.F.Nariman, J.



   Leave granted in S.L.P(C) No. 28304 of 2015.



These two appeals revisit  the  question  of  the  correct  construction  of
Section 24(2) of The Right to Fair Compensation  and  Transparency  in  Land
Acquisition,  Rehabilitation  and  Resettlement   Act,   2013   (hereinafter
referred to as “the 2013 Act”).  We are constrained to observe that  we  are
hearing these matters despite the fact that the  law  has  been  settled  in
Pune Municipal Corporation v. H.M. Solanki, 2014 (3) SCC 183, which  is  now
stare  decisis  in  that  it  has  been  followed  in  a  large  number   of
judgments[1].

3.     The facts of the present case are as follows.  A  Notification  under
Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was  issued  on  24th  October,
1961, stating that the  public  purpose  for  acquisition  was  the  planned
development of Delhi.  This Notification covered large  tracts  of  land  in
and around Delhi.  In this case, we are  concerned  with  33  bighas  and  1
biswa of land in  the  Vasant  Kunj  area  of  New  Delhi.  This  Section  4
Notification was followed by  a  Notification  under  Section  6  dated  4th
January, 1969, which in turn, was followed by notices issued  under  Section
9 on 26th April, 1983.  An award relating to the  aforesaid  land  was  then
made by the Land Acquisition Collector, New Delhi, only  on  12th  December,
1997.  Possession of the said land, being an open piece of land,  was  taken
by a Panchnama dated 27th January, 2000.  An affidavit that has  been  filed
by the Commissioner, Land Management, Delhi Development  Authority  in  this
Court, pursuant to an order of this Court dated 17th April, 2015,  discloses
that the requisite compensation for taking over the said land was  deposited
by the DDA with the Land Acquisition Collector only in the year  2002.   The
said affidavit goes on to state  that  since  the  land  had  been  sold  to
Respondent Nos. 3 to 5 in the present case, there was a dispute  as  to  who
would receive compensation and that, therefore, compensation  could  neither
be paid nor tendered.

4.    On the eve of the coming into force of the 2013 Act (on  1st  January,
2014), an application  styled  as  a  Petition  under  Article  227  of  the
Constitution of India was made by the  Land  Acquisition  Collector  in  the
High Court of Delhi on 27th December, 2013, requesting  the  High  Court  of
Delhi to accept cheques towards compensation amounts under the  award  dated
12th December, 1997, stating that non-deposit of compensation on  or  before
31st December, 2013  would  adversely  affect  the  acquisition  proceedings
inasmuch as the proceedings might lapse in view of the fact  that  the  2013
Act has been notified to take effect  from  1st  January,  2014.   An  order
dated 30th December, 2013 was passed by the High Court on  this  application
stating that  the  petition  stands  disposed  of,  recording  that  without
prejudice to the rights and contentions of  the  land  owners,  the  cheques
tendered in each petition would be treated as a tender to the court  of  the
learned Additional District Judge, Delhi as on  today  i.e.  30th  December,
2013.

5.    The original land holders thereafter presented a Writ Petition,  being
Writ Petition No. 4375 of 2014 before the High Court of Delhi, on 26th  May,
2014, stating that as possession had not been taken and as compensation  had
neither been tendered nor paid to the petitioner, the  requisite  conditions
of Section 24(2) of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in  Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013  would  be  met,  and
that, as a result, the acquisition proceedings had lapsed.  No affidavit  in
reply was filed to the aforesaid writ petition.  By  the  impugned  judgment
dated 18th November,  2014,  the  High  Court  of  Delhi  allowed  the  said
petition based on the judgment in  Pune  Municipal  Corporation,  and  other
judgments following the same, stating:

“5.    Without  going  into  the  controversy  with   regard   to   physical
possession, this much is clear that the award was made more than five  years
prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act and the compensation has also  not
been paid. The necessary ingredients for the application  of  Section  24(2)
of the 2013 Act, as interpreted by the Supreme Court and this court  in  the
following decisions, stand satisfied:

Pune Municipal Coporation and Anr. v. H.M. Solanki, 2014 (2) SCC 183,

Union of India & Ors. V. Shiv Raj & Ors., (2014) 6 SCC 564.

Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Association v. State of  Tamil  Nadu  &  Ors.:
Civil Appeal No. 8700/2013.

Surender Singh v. Union of India & Others: W.P.(C) No. 2294/2014 decided  on
12.09.2014 by this Court; and

Gyanender Singh & Ors. V. Union of India  &  Ors.,  W.P.(C)  No.  1393/2014,
10.09.2014.

6.    As a result, the petitioners are entitled to a  declaration  that  the
said acquisition proceedings initiated under the 1894 Act in respect of  the
subject lands are deemed to have lapsed.  It is so declared.”



6.    The present appeals have, therefore,  been  filed  by  both  the  Land
Acquisition Collector and the DDA.

7.    Shri Amarendra Sharan, Senior Advocate, appearing for the DDA and  Ms.
Rachna Srivastava, Advocate, appearing for the Land  Acquisition  Collector,
have argued before us that Pune Municipal Corporation needs to be  revisited
on essentially two grounds. The first is that at least as far  as  Delhi  is
concerned, it is governed by a Standing Order of 26th June, 1909 as  amended
up to date, in which one method of making payment under Section  31  of  the
Land Acquisition Act is by deposit  in  the  treasury.   The  distinguishing
feature  of  this  case  is,  therefore,  that  unlike  in  Pune   Municipal
Corporation, deposit in a treasury is a recognized mode  of  making  payment
for the purpose of Section 31 of the Land Acquisition  Act,  and  that  this
being the case, it is clear  that  Pune  Municipal  Corporation  would  not,
therefore, apply to the facts of the present case.  A  second  argument  was
also made by both the learned counsels to the  effect  that  Pune  Municipal
Corporation did not notice that since  possession  had  been  taken  in  the
facts of the present case, in the year 2000, vesting  of  the  land  in  the
State had already taken place and the original owner had  been  divested  of
his title.  This being the case, the acquisition proceedings being  over  in
the year 2000, no question of lapse of a proceeding  that  is  already  over
can possibly take place in the year 2014 after the  enactment  of  the  2013
Act.  For  the  aforesaid  proposition,  the  learned  counsel  relied  upon
Satendra Prasad Jain v. State of U.P.,  (1993)  4  SCC  369.   They  further
argued that, in the present case, a subsequent purchaser had come  into  the
picture by a registered sale deed dated 23rd June,  1992.   This  being  the
case, it is clear that the State was in a dilemma as to who should  be  paid
compensation, and it is  for  this  reason  that  compensation  was  neither
tendered nor paid after the award.   For  this  purpose,  they  relied  upon
Meera Sahni v. Lt. Governor of Delhi & Ors., (2008) 9 SCC 177.

8.    The submissions of both the learned counsels  were  rebutted  by  Shri
A.K. Sanghi, Senior Advocate, appearing on behalf of the original owner  and
Shri V. Giri, appearing on behalf of the subsequent  purchasers.   Both  the
learned counsels emphasized the fact that  compensation  money  had  neither
been tendered or paid in accordance with Section 31 of the Land  Acquisition
Act.  They further went on to state that even possession had not been  taken
in accordance with law as no notice had  been  issued  to  the  land  owners
before taking possession and, that therefore, this  was  a  case  which  was
covered by both contingencies mentioned in Section 24(2) of  the  2013  Act.
They also argued that it is too late in the day to go back on the  ratio  of
Pune Municipal Corporation, which squarely  applies  on  the  facts  of  the
present case, as it has now been followed in a catena of judgments.

9.    Having heard the arguments on both sides, it  is  necessary  to  first
set out the relevant provisions of  the  Land  Acquisition  Act.   In  these
appeals, we are directly concerned with Section 11 under which  enquiry  and
award are to be made by the Collector,  Section 12  which  states  that  the
Collector is to give immediate notice of his  award  to  persons  interested
who are not present personally when the award is  made;   Section  16  which
deals with the taking of possession and vesting of  land;  and  Sections  31
and 34 which deal with  payment  of  compensation.   Accordingly,  the  said
Sections are set out hereinbelow:

“11. Enquiry and award by Collector. - (1) On the day so fixed,  or  on  any
other day to which the enquiry  has  been  adjourned,  the  Collector  shall
proceed to enquire into the objection (if any) which any  person  interested
has stated pursuant to a notice given under section 9  to  the  measurements
made under section 8, and into the value of the land  at  the  date  of  the
publication of the notification under section 4, sub-section (1),  and  into
the respective interests of the persons claiming the compensation and  shall
make an award under his hand of-

the true area of the land;

the compensation which in his opinion should be allowed for the land; and

the apportionment of the said compensation among all the  persons  known  or
believed to be interested in the land, or whom, or of whose claims,  he  has
information, whether or not they have respectively appeared before him :

Provided that no award shall be  made  by  the  Collector  under  this  sub-
section without the previous approval of the appropriate  Government  or  of
such officer as the appropriate Government may authorize in this behalf:

Provided further that it shall be competent for the  appropriate  Government
to direct that the Collector may make such award without  such  approval  in
such class of cases as  the  appropriate  Government  may  specify  in  this
behalf.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), if at  any  stage
of the  proceedings,  the  Collector  is  satisfied  that  all  the  persons
interested in the land who appeared before him have  agreed  in  writing  on
the matters to be included in  the  award  of  the  Collector  in  the  form
prescribed by rules made by the  appropriate  Government,  he  may,  without
making further enquiry, make  an  award  according  to  the  terms  of  such
agreement.

(3) The determination of compensation for any  land  under  sub-section  (2)
shall not in any way affect the determination of compensation in respect  of
other lands in the same locality or elsewhere in accordance with  the  other
provisions of this Act.

(4) Notwithstanding anything contained in the Registration Act, 1908 (16  of
1908),  no  agreement  made  under  sub-section  (2)  shall  be  liable   to
registration under that Act.

12. Award of Collector when to be final. - (1) Such award shall be filed  in
the Collector's office and shall, except as hereinafter provided,  be  final
and  conclusive  evidence,  as  between  the  Collector  and   the   persons
interested, whether they have respectively appeared before the Collector  or
not, of the true area and value of the land,  and  the  appointment  of  the
compensation among the persons interested.

(2) The Collector shall give immediate notice of his award to  such  of  the
persons  interested  as   are   not   present   personally   or   by   their
representatives when the award is made.

16. Power to take possession. - When the Collector has made an  award  under
section 11, he may take possession of the land, which shall  thereupon  vest
absolutely in the Government, free from all encumbrances.

31. Payment of compensation or deposit of same in Court. - (1) On making  an
award  under  section  11,  the  Collector  shall  tender  payment  of   the
compensation awarded by him  to  the  persons  interested  entitled  thereto
according to the award and shall pay it to them  unless  prevented  by  some
one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the next sub-section.

(2) If they shall not consent to receive  it,  or  if  there  be  no  person
competent to alienate the land, or if there be any dispute as to  the  title
to receive the compensation or as to the apportionment of it, the  Collector
shall deposit the amount of  the  compensation  in  the  Court  to  which  a
reference under section 18 would be submitted:

Provided that any person admitted to be interested may receive such  payment
under protest as to the sufficiency of the amount:

Provided also that no person who has  received  the  amount  otherwise  than
under protest shall be entitled to make any application under section 18:

Provided also that nothing herein contained shall affect  the  liability  of
any person, who may receive the  whole  or  any  part  of  any  compensation
awarded under this Act, to pay the same  to  the  person  lawfully  entitled
thereto.

(3) Notwithstanding anything in this section the  Collector  may,  with  the
sanction  of  the  appropriate  Government  instead  of  awarding  a   money
compensation in respect of any land, make  any  arrangement  with  a  person
having a limited interest in such land, either by the grant of  other  lands
in exchange, the remission of land-revenue on other  lands  held  under  the
same title, or in such other way as may be equitable having  regard  to  the
interests of the parties concerned.

(4) Nothing  in  the  last  foregoing  sub-section  shall  be  construed  to
interfere with or limit the  power  of  the  Collector  to  enter  into  any
arrangement with  any  person  interested  in  the  land  and  competent  to
contract in respect thereof.

34. Payment of interest - When the amount of such compensation is  not  paid
or deposited on or before taking  possession  of  the  land,  the  Collector
shall pay the amount awarded with interest thereon at the rate of  nine  per
centum per annum from the time of so taking possession until it  shall  have
been so paid or deposited:

Provided that if such compensation or  any  part  thereof  is  not  paid  or
deposited within a period of one year from the date on which  possession  is
taken, interest at the rate  of  fifteen  per  centum  per  annum  shall  be
payable from the date or expiry of the  said  period  of  one  year  on  the
amount of compensation or part thereof which has not been paid or  deposited
before the date of such expiry.”



10.   The scheme of the Land Acquisition Act, in so far  as  the  making  of
award and the payment of compensation to persons interested, is as  follows.
On the day fixed, the Collector  after  the  inquiry  that  is  contemplated
under Section 11, has to make an award  which  must  contain  the  necessary
ingredients mentioned in Section 11. As soon as the  award  is  made,  under
Section 12(2) of the Act, the Collector is to give immediate notice  of  the
award to such of the persons  interested  as  are  not  present  personally.
This provision, when read with Section 31 of the Act, makes  it  clear  that
the statutory  scheme  is  that  the  Collector  is  to  tender  payment  of
compensation awarded by him to the persons who are interested  and  entitled
thereto, according to the award, on the date of  making  the  award  itself.
It is therefore, clear that under the statutory scheme, the  Collector  must
be armed with the amount of compensation payable to  persons  interested  as
soon as the award is made.  Such persons have to be paid the  sum  mentioned
in the award, it being well settled that the award is only  an  offer  which
may be accepted or rejected by the claimants.  If  accepted,  whether  under
protest or otherwise, it is the duty of the Collector  to  make  payment  as
soon as possible after making the award.  It is only in  a  situation  where
the persons interested refuse consent to receive monies  payable,  or  there
be no person competent to alienate the land, or if there be any  dispute  as
to title to receive compensation or its apportionment, is the  Collector  to
deposit the amount of compensation in  the  reference  court.   It  is  only
after these steps have been taken that the Collector may take possession  of
the land, which shall thereupon vest absolutely in the Government free  from
all encumbrances.  The Act further makes it clear, on a reading  of  Section
34, that where such compensation is neither paid or deposited on or   before
taking possession of the land, interest is payable at  the  rate  of  9  per
cent per annum for one year and 15 per cent per annum  thereafter.  This  is
because a person becomes divested  of  both  possession  and  title  to  his
property without compensation having been paid or  deposited,  as  the  case
may be. This statutory scheme has been adverted to in some of the  decisions
of this Court.  In  New  Reviera  Coop.  Housing  Society  v.  Special  Land
Acquisition Officer, (1996) 1 SCC 731 at para 3, this Court held:

“…Once the award has been made and compensation has been deposited  or  paid
under Section 31 of the Act, the Land Acquisition  Officer  is  entitled  to
take possession and the possession thereby taken stands vested in the  State
under Section 16 of the Act free from all encumbrances…”



In Sunder v. Union of India, (2001) 7 SCC 211 at para 24, this Court held:

“… What the legislature intended was to  make  the  aggregate  amount  under
Section 23 of the Act to reach the hands of  the  person  as  and  when  the
award is passed, at any rate as soon as he is deprived of the possession  of
his land. Any delay in making payment of the  said  sum  should  enable  the
party to have interest on the  said  sum  until  he  receives  the  payment.
Splitting up the compensation into different components for the  purpose  of
payment of interest under Section 34 was not in  the  contemplation  of  the
legislature when that section was framed or enacted.”



In Bangalore Development Authority v. R. Hanumaiah,  (2005) 12  SCC  508  at
para 47, this Court held:

“…Section 31 contemplates that on making of an award under  Section  11  the
Collector shall tender amount of compensation awarded by him to  the  person
interested and entitled thereto according to the  award  and  shall  pay  to
them unless prevented by any one or more of the contingencies  mentioned  in
the subsequent clauses. None of those contingencies  arose  in  the  present
case. Thus, once the amount was tendered and paid  the  acquisition  process
was complete. After making the award under  Section  11  the  Collector  can
take possession of the land under Section  16  which  shall  thereupon  vest
absolutely in the Government free from  all  encumbrances.  In  the  instant
case, after making the payment in terms of the award, possession was  taken.
The acquisition process stood completed. …”



11.   Given the fact that the State has been prompt in  acquiring  land  for
public purposes, but tardy in tendering or  paying  compensation,  the  2013
Act came in as a beneficial legislation to the aid, in particular,  of  poor
farmers whose lands had been acquired under the  Land  Acquisition  Act  but
compensation had not been  tendered or paid as required under the said  Act.
 With this object in mind, Section  24(2)  of  the  2013  Act  was  enacted.
Section 24 reads as follows:

“24. Land acquisition process under Act No. 1 of 1894  shall  be  deemed  to
have lapsed in certain  cases.–(1)  Notwithstanding  anything  contained  in
this Act, in any case of land acquisition proceedings  initiated  under  the
Land Acquisition Act, 1894,—

(a) where no award under section 11 of the said  Land  Acquisition  Act  has
been made, then, all provisions of this Act relating  to  the  determination
of compensation shall apply; or

(b) where  an  award  under  said  section  11  has  been  made,  then  such
proceedings  shall  continue  under  the  provisions  of   the   said   Land
Acquisition Act, as if the said Act has not been repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), in case  of  land
acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition  Act,  1894  (1
of 1894), where an award under the said section 11 has been made five  years
or more prior to the commencement of this Act but  the  physical  possession
of the land has not been taken or the compensation has  not  been  paid  the
said proceedings  shall  be  deemed  to  have  lapsed  and  the  appropriate
Government, if it so chooses, shall initiate the proceedings  of  such  land
acquisition afresh in accordance with the provisions of this Act:

Provided that where an award has been made and compensation in respect of  a
majority of land holdings has not been  deposited  in  the  account  of  the
beneficiaries, then, all beneficiaries specified  in  the  notification  for
acquisition under section 4 of the  said  Land  Acquisition  Act,  shall  be
entitled to compensation in accordance with the provisions of this Act.”



12.   Section 24(1) begins with a non-obstante clause and covers  situations
where either no award has been made  under  the  Land  Acquisition  Act,  in
which case the more beneficial  provisions  of  the  2013  Act  relating  to
determination of compensation shall apply, or where an award has  been  made
under Section 11, land acquisition  proceedings  shall  continue  under  the
provisions of the Land Acquisition Act as if  the  said  Act  had  not  been
repealed.

13.   To Section 24(1)(b) an important exception is carved  out  by  Section
24(2).  The necessary ingredients of Section 24(2) are as follows:

(a)   Section 24(2) begins with a non-obstante  clause  keeping  sub-section
(1) out of harm’s way;

(b)   For it  to  apply,  land  acquisition  proceedings  should  have  been
initiated under the Land Acquisition Act;

(c)   Also, an award under Section 11 should have been made 5 years or  more
prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act;

(d)   Physical possession of the land, if not  taken,  or  compensation,  if
not paid, are fatal  to  the  land  acquisition  proceeding  that  had  been
initiated under the Land Acquisition Act;

(e)   The fatality is pronounced by stating that the said proceedings  shall
be deemed to have lapsed, and the appropriate Government, if it so  chooses,
shall, in this game of snakes and ladders, start all over again.

14.   The picture that therefore emerges on a reading of  Section  24(2)  is
that the State has no business to expropriate from a  citizen  his  property
if an award has been made and the necessary steps  to  complete  acquisition
have not been taken for a  period  of  five  years  or  more.   These  steps
include  the  taking  of  physical  possession  of  land  and   payment   of
compensation.  What the legislature is in effect telling  the  executive  is
that they ought  to  have  put  their  house  in  order  and  completed  the
acquisition proceedings within a  reasonable  time  after  pronouncement  of
award.  Not having done so even after a  leeway  of  five  years  is  given,
would cross the limits of  legislative  tolerance,  after  which  the  whole
proceeding would be deemed to have lapsed. It is important  to  notice  that
the Section gets attracted if the acquisition proceeding  is  not  completed
within five years after pronouncement of the award.  This may happen  either
because physical possession of the  land  has  not  been  taken  or  because
compensation has not been paid, within the said period  of  five  years.   A
faint submission to the effect that ‘or’ should be read  as  ‘and’  must  be
turned down for two reasons.  The plain natural meaning of  the  sub-section
does not lead to any absurdity for us to replace language advisedly used  by
the Legislature.  Secondly, the  object  of  the  Act,  and  Section  24  in
particular, is that in case an award has been made for five years  or  more,
possession ought to have been taken  within  this  period,  or  else  it  is
statutorily presumed that the balance between the citizen’s right to  retain
his own property and the right of the State to expropriate it  for a  public
purpose gets   so disturbed as to make the  acquisition  proceedings  lapse.
Alternatively, if compensation  has  not   been  paid  within  this  period,
it is also statutorily presumed that the aforesaid  balance  gets  disturbed
so as to free such property from acquisition.

15.   The stage is now set to  consider  the  arguments  of  the  appellants
before us. Before doing so, it is important to first set  out  what  exactly
has been held in the landmark judgment of three  Hon’ble  Judges  (in  which
one of us Kurian, J. is a member) in the Pune  Municipal  Corporation  case.
The Court was concerned with what is the  true  meaning  of  the  expression
“compensation has not been paid” occurring in  Section  24(2)  of  the  2013
Act.  It is important first to notice the argument that was made  on  behalf
of the Pune Municipal Corporation and the Land Acquisition  Collector  which
is, in paragraph 7, extracted herein below:

“On the other hand, on behalf  of  the  Corporation  and  so  also  for  the
Collector, it is argued  that  the  award  was  made  by  the  Special  Land
Acquisition Officer on 31-1-2008 strictly in terms of the 1894  Act  and  on
the  very  day  the  landowners  were  informed  regarding  the  quantum  of
compensation for their respective lands. Notices were  also  issued  to  the
landowners to reach the Office of the Special Land Acquisition  Officer  and
receive the amount of compensation  and  since  they  neither  received  the
compensation nor any request  came  from  them  to  make  reference  to  the
District Court under Section 18, the compensation amounting to Rs 27  crores
was deposited in the Government treasury. It is, thus, submitted that  there
was no default on the part of the Special Land Acquisition  Officer  or  the
Government  and,  hence,  the  acquisition  proceedings  have  not   lapsed.
Moreover, reliance is also placed on Section 114 of the 2013 Act and  it  is
argued that the concluded  land  acquisition  proceedings  are  not  at  all
affected  by  Section  24(2)  and  the  only  right  that  survives  to  the
landowners is to receive compensation.” [para 7]



16.   After setting out Section 24(2), the Court went on to hold:

“Section 24(2) also begins with non  obstante  clause.  This  provision  has
overriding effect over Section 24(1). Section 24(2) enacts that in  relation
to the land acquisition proceedings initiated under the 1894 Act,  where  an
award has been made five years or more prior  to  the  commencement  of  the
2013 Act and either of the two contingencies is satisfied viz. (i)  physical
possession of the land has not been taken, or (ii) the compensation has  not
been paid; such acquisition proceedings shall be deemed to have  lapsed.  On
the lapse of such acquisition proceedings,  if  the  appropriate  Government
still  chooses  to  acquire  the  land  which  was  the  subject-matter   of
acquisition under the 1894 Act then  it  has  to  initiate  the  proceedings
afresh under the 2013 Act. The proviso appended to Section 24(2) deals  with
a situation where in respect of the acquisition  initiated  under  the  1894
Act an award has been made and compensation in  respect  of  a  majority  of
landholdings has not been deposited in  the  account  of  the  beneficiaries
then all the beneficiaries specified in the Section  4  notification  become
entitled to compensation under the 2013 Act.

Section 31(1) of the 1894 Act enjoins  upon  the  Collector,  on  making  an
award under Section  11,  to  tender  payment  of  compensation  to  persons
interested entitled thereto according to  award.  It  further  mandates  the
Collector to make payment of compensation to them unless  prevented  by  one
of the contingencies contemplated  in  sub-section  (2).  The  contingencies
contemplated in Section 31(2) are: (i) the persons  interested  entitled  to
compensation do  not  consent  to  receive  it,  (ii)  there  is  no  person
competent to alienate the land, and (iii) there is dispute as to  the  title
to receive compensation or as to the apportionment of it. If due to  any  of
the contingencies contemplated in Section 31(2), the Collector is  prevented
from making payment of  compensation  to  the  persons  interested  who  are
entitled to compensation, then the Collector  is  required  to  deposit  the
compensation in the court to which reference under Section 18 may be made.

Simply put, Section 31 of the  1894  Act  makes  provision  for  payment  of
compensation or deposit of the same in the court.  This  provision  requires
that the Collector should tender payment of compensation as awarded  by  him
to the persons interested who  are  entitled  to  compensation.  If  due  to
happening  of  any  contingency  as  contemplated  in  Section  31(2),   the
compensation has not been paid, the Collector should deposit the  amount  of
compensation in the court to which reference can be made under Section 18.

The mandatory nature of the  provision  in  Section  31(2)  with  regard  to
deposit of the compensation  in  the  court  is  further  fortified  by  the
provisions contained in Sections 32,  33  and  34.  As  a  matter  of  fact,
Section 33 gives  power  to  the  court,  on  an  application  by  a  person
interested or claiming an interest in  such  money,  to  pass  an  order  to
invest the  amount  so  deposited  in  such  Government  or  other  approved
securities and may direct  the  interest  or  other  proceeds  of  any  such
investment to be accumulated and paid in such  manner  as  it  may  consider
proper  so  that  the  parties  interested  therein  may  have  the  benefit
therefrom as they might have had from  the  land  in  respect  whereof  such
money shall have been deposited or as near thereto as may be.

While enacting Section 24(2), Parliament definitely had in its view  Section
31 of the 1894 Act. From that one thing is clear that it did not  intend  to
equate the word “paid” to “offered” or “tendered”. But at the same time,  we
do not think that by use of the word “paid”, Parliament intended receipt  of
compensation by the landowners/persons interested. In our view,  it  is  not
appropriate to give a literal construction to the expression “paid” used  in
this sub-section [sub-section (2) of Section 24]. If a literal  construction
were to be given, then it would amount to ignoring the procedure,  mode  and
manner of deposit provided in Section 31(2) of the 1894 Act in the event  of
happening of  any  of  the  contingencies  contemplated  therein  which  may
prevent the Collector from making actual payment of compensation. We are  of
the  view,  therefore,  that  for  the  purposes  of  Section   24(2),   the
compensation shall be regarded  as  “paid”  if  the  compensation  has  been
offered to the person interested and such compensation  has  been  deposited
in the court where reference under Section 18 can be made  on  happening  of
any of the contingencies contemplated under Section 31(2) of the  1894  Act.
In other words, the compensation may be said to have been “paid” within  the
meaning of Section 24(2)  when  the  Collector  (or  for  that  matter  Land
Acquisition Officer) has discharged his obligation and deposited the  amount
of compensation in court and made that amount available  to  the  interested
person to be dealt with as provided in Sections 32 and 33.

The  1894  Act  being  an  expropriatory  legislation  has  to  be  strictly
followed. The procedure, mode and manner for  payment  of  compensation  are
prescribed in Part V (Sections 31-34) of the 1894 Act. The  Collector,  with
regard to the payment of  compensation,  can  only  act  in  the  manner  so
provided. It is settled proposition of law (classic statement of Lord  Roche
in Nazir Ahmad [Nazir Ahmad v. King Emperor, (1935-36) 63 IA  372  :  (1936)
44 LW 583 : AIR 1936 PC 253 (2)] ) that where a  power  is  given  to  do  a
certain thing in a certain way, the thing must be done in that  way  or  not
at all. Other methods of performance are necessarily forbidden.

Now, this is admitted position that award was  made  on  31-1-2008.  Notices
were issued to the landowners to receive the  compensation  and  since  they
did not receive the compensation, the amount (Rs 27  crores)  was  deposited
in the Government treasury. Can it be said that deposit  of  the  amount  of
compensation in the Government treasury  is  equivalent  to  the  amount  of
compensation paid to the landowners/persons interested? We do not think  so.
In  a  comparatively  recent  decision,  this  Court   in Agnelo   Santimano
Fernandes [Ivo Agnelo Santimano Fernandes v. State of  Goa,  (2011)  11  SCC
506 : (2011) 4 SCC (Civ) 268] , relying upon the  earlier  decision  in Prem
Nath Kapur [Prem Nath Kapur v. National Fertilizers Corpn.  of  India  Ltd.,
(1996) 2 SCC 71]  ,  has  held  that  the  deposit  of  the  amount  of  the
compensation in  the  State's  revenue  account  is  of  no  avail  and  the
liability of the State to pay interest subsists  till  the  amount  has  not
been deposited in court.

From the above, it is clear that the award pertaining to  the  subject  land
has been made by the Special Land Acquisition Officer more than  five  years
prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act.  It  is  also  admitted  position
that   compensation   so   awarded   has   neither   been   paid   to    the
landowners/persons interested nor deposited in the  court.  The  deposit  of
compensation amount in the Government treasury is of no avail and cannot  be
held to  be  equivalent  to  compensation  paid  to  the  landowners/persons
interested. We have, therefore, no hesitation in holding  that  the  subject
land acquisition proceedings shall be deemed to have  lapsed  under  Section
24(2) of the 2013 Act.” [paras 11, 14 – 20]



17.   Both the learned counsels on behalf of the appellants first sought  to
distinguish the aforesaid judgment with reference to Standing Order  No.  28
of 1909 which applies to Delhi.  In so far as the  said  Standing  Order  is
relevant to this case, its provisions are set out hereinbelow:

“71. Payment of compensation when made – As  soon  as  the  award  has  been
announced the  acquiring  officer  will  proceed  to  pay  the  compensation
awarded to  those  persons  who  are  present  and  who  accept  the  award.
Sufficient notice should be given to enable all payees to  assemble  at  the
place where they will receive their dues but no time  should  be  wasted  on
useless endeavours to secure the attendance of absentees.  A note  shall  be
made of the names of those persons who refused to accept the amount  awarded
or who accept it under  protest.   Much  trouble  will  be  avoided  if  the
principle that payment of compensation should be made at the time of  award,
is strictly observed.  Most of the persons interested will then  be  present
and immediate payment will  save  them  the  necessity  of  making  frequent
journeys to the tehsil.  It will usually be found of advantage  to  draw  in
advance a sum sufficient to cover the probable amount of the  award  and  to
make payments against this especially when  the  award  is  announced  at  a
place distant from the headquarters.

73. Statement to be forwarded to the Accountant General – When an  award  is
made under Section 11  of  the  Act  the  acquiring  officer  shall  have  a
statement prepared in the following  Form  marked  AA  showing  the  amounts
payable to each person under the award and shall, on the day  the  award  is
made, forward a copy of this statement  signed  by  him  to  the  accountant
general or other audit officer, with whom he is in account  and  the  Deputy
Commissioner concerned simultaneously with a certificate that the  land  has
been taken possession of and mutated in  favour  of  Government  fiving  the
number and date of the attested mutation. On the basis of this  certificate,
the  Deputy  Commissioner  may  forward  a   proposal   to   the   Financial
Commissioner for sanctioning reduction of land revenue  under  Paragraph  79
infra. Before signing the copy the Officer should carefully satisfy  himself
that it correctly shows the amounts due under the award and  should  himself
enter the total of column 6 of the statement in words both in  the  original
and  copy.  Subsidiary  statement  in  Form  AA  below,  giving  particulars
regarding the acceptance by the persons concerned of the amounts entered  in
column 6 of the Award statement should also be  furnished  to  the  auditing
officer as soon as possible. If the subsidiary statement is not complete  on
the day that the award is made, the necessary entries in  column  7  of  the
statement in Form A will be made in the auditing office on  receipt  of  the
statement in Form AA.

FORM AA

Particulars regarding the acceptance by the  persons  concerned  of  amounts
entered in award statement no. _________ dated ____ 200__



      Name of work for which land has been acquired _________ No.  and  date
of declaration in _________ Gazette viz No. _________ dated ____

1968 _________ page _________



1.          2.         3.

PARTICULARS OF AMOUNT ENTERED IN COLUMN 6 OF THE AWARD STATEMENT

|Serial No. |Name of    |(a)        |(b)        |(c)        |Amount     |
|in the     |person to  |Amount     |Amount     |Amount     |undisbursed|
|statement  |whom       |accepted   |accepted   |deposited  |owing to   |
|award under|payment is |without    |under      |in Court   |non-attenda|
|Section 11 |made under |protest    |protest    |Reasons for|nce and the|
|of the Act |the award  |           |           |depositing |treasury in|
|           |           |           |           |           |which it is|
|           |           |           |           |           |deposited  |
|           |           |Rs. P      |Rs. P      |Rs. P      |           |


Note – In noting these particulars in the award statement, it may be
sufficient to enter the letter a, b, c or d as the case may be in column 7
of the statement when the whole amount of the award is shown in one of the
four sub-columns a, b, c or d in the statement.

74. Methods of making payments – There are five methods of making payments:-

(1) By direct payments, see paragraph 75(I) infra
(2) By order on treasury, see paragraph 75(II) infra
(3) By Money Order, see paragraph 75(III) infra
(4) By cheque, see paragraph 75(IV) infra
(5) By deposit in a treasury, see paragraph 75(V) infra

75. Direct payments
(V) By treasury deposit – In giving notice of the award under Section  12(2)
and tendering payment under Section 31(1) to such of the persons  interested
as were not present personally or by their representatives  when  the  award
was made, the  officer  shall  require  them  to  appear  personally  or  by
representatives by a certain date to receive  payment  of  the  compensation
awarded to them, intimating also that no interest will be  allowed  to  them
if they fail to appear, if they do  not  appear  and  do  not  apply  for  a
reference to the civil court under Section 18, the officer shall  after  any
further endeavours to secure  their  attendance  that  may  seem  desirable,
cause the amounts due to be paid   to  the  treasury  as  revenue  deposited
payable to the persons to whom they are respectively due and vouched for  in
the Form marked E below. The officer shall also give notice  to  the  payees
of such deposits, specifying the treasury in  which  the  deposit  has  been
made. When then payees ultimately claim payment of sums placed  in  deposit,
the amounts will be paid to them in the  same  manner  as  ordinary  revenue
deposit. The officer should,  as  far  as  possible,  arrange  to  make  the
payments due in or near the village to which the payee belong in order  that
the number of un-disbursed sums to be placed in deposits on account of  non-
attendance may be reduced to a minimum. Whenever payment is claimed  through
a representative whether before or after  deposit  of  the  amount  awarded,
such  representative  must  have   legal   authority   for   receiving   the
compensation on behalf of his principal.

|Form E                             |Form E                             |
|Name of work for which land has    |Name of work for which land has    |
|been acquired ________             |been acquired ________             |
|                                   |                                   |
|To the officer incharge of _______ |To the officer incharge of _______ |
|treasury                           |treasury                           |
|                                   |                                   |
|Please receive for transfer to     |Please receive for transfer to     |
|credit of revenue deposit the sum  |credit of revenue deposit the sum  |
|of Rs._______  on account of       |of Rs._______  on account of       |
|compensation for land taken up for |compensation for land taken up for |
|the above purpose payable as       |the above purpose payable as       |
|detailed below:-                   |detailed below:-                   |


Serial  Number in award statement No.   |Name of persons to whom  due  |Area
of land |Amount payable to each |Remarks | |Name  of  persons  to  whom  due
|Area of land |Amount payable to each |Remarks | |  |  |Acres  |Rs.  |  |  |
|Acres |Rs. | | |
Total _____ Total ____
Land Acquisition Officer     Land Acquisition Officer

Dated ______ Dated ______

Received the above amount and credited to    Received the above  amount  and
credited
Revenue deposit                   to Revenue deposit

Treasury Officer                        Treasury Officer
Note – this form should be used when the     Note  –  this  form  should  be
used when the
amounts of compensation due             amounts of compensation due
are sent to treasury in the absence of       are sent  to  treasury  in  the
absence of
proprietors who have failed to present       proprietors who have failed  to
present
themselves for payment.                            themselves for payment.”


18.   Far from the aforesaid Standing Order coming to the assistance of  the
appellants, it is clear that the said Standing Order fleshes out Section  31
of the Land Acquisition Act by insisting that compensation must be  paid  as
soon as the award is announced, vide paragraph 71.  Sufficient  notice  must
be given to enable all payees  to  assemble  at  a  place  where  they  will
receive their dues immediately. It is emphasized by the said paragraph  that
much trouble will be avoided if the principle that payment  of  compensation
should be made at the time of the award is strictly observed.  Also,  it  is
important that the authorities draw in advance a  sum  sufficient  to  cover
the probable amount of the award and to make payments.

19.   Paragraph 73 makes it  clear  that  payment  may  be  accepted  either
without protest or under protest, and  Paragraph  74  makes  it  clear  that
there are five methods of making payment.  The first four  methods  are  all
methods strictly in consonance with Section 31 of the Land  Acquisition  Act
in that they are all direct payments that have to be made to  persons  ready
to accept compensation.  This is clear from a reading of sub-paragraphs  (I)
to (IV) of paragraph 74.  Even the second method, which is payment by  order
on the treasury, is a direct method of payment in cases where no officer  is
specially deputed for acquisition of land. In such cases instead  of  making
a direct payment, a receipt is countersigned making it  immediately  payable
at the treasury to the payee.  Otherwise, in certain circumstances,  payment
is to be made by money order and/or by cheque.  When we  come  to  paragraph
(V), it is clear that payment is made into the treasury  only  when  persons
who are served notice under Section 12(2) are not present personally at  the
time the award is delivered.  Even  though  they  may  not  appear  at  that
stage,  the  officer  shall  require  them  to  appear  personally   or   by
representatives by  a  certain  date  to  receive  payment  of  compensation
awarded.  It is only if they fail to appear after such  an  intimation,  and
if the officer, after further endeavours to secure their attendance,  cannot
so secure their attendance, that amounts due are to be paid to the  treasury
as revenue deposited payable to persons  to  whom  they  are  due.    It  is
clear, therefore, that sub-para (V), when read in  its  proper  perspective,
is not a separate mode of payment by  itself  as  is  contended  by  learned
counsel for the appellants. It is a residuary  mode  of  payment  after  all
necessary  efforts  have  been  made  by  the  authorities  to  secure   the
attendance of the persons entitled to compensation, and  it  is  only  after
all  such methods have failed that, as a last resort, the money is  then  to
be deposited in the treasury.  In any case, such deposit in the treasury  is
referable only to Section 31(1) and cannot ever be a substitute for  deposit
before the reference court as provided  under  Section  31(2)  of  the  Land
Acquisition Act,  which  applies  in  the  circumstances  mentioned  in  the
aforesaid  sub-section.   We  are,  therefore,  of  the  opinion   that   no
distinction between the facts of this case and the facts in  Pune  Municipal
Corporation  can be drawn on this ground, and the ratio  of  Pune  Municipal
Corporation will apply on all fours to the facts of the present case.

20.   On facts, it is clear that  neither  tender,  that  is  offer  to  the
original claimant nor payment has  been  made  in  the  manner  provided  by
Section 31 read with Standing Order No. 28 of 1909.  In  the  present  case,
as has been admitted in the affidavit filed in this Court, the DDA  was  not
ready with compensation payable on the day the  award  was  pronounced,  but
only handed over such compensation to the Land  Acquisition  Collector  five
years  after  the  award  was  pronounced,  that  is,  in  2002.   The  Land
Acquisition Collector, in its turn, did  nothing  whatsoever  to  offer  the
said sum or pay it to the original owners.  On the contrary,  by  moving  an
application on the eve of the coming into force of  the  2013  Act,  and  by
depositing the said amount of compensation paid to it in the year 2002  only
on 30th December, 2013, it is clear that the aforesaid  mandatory  provision
and procedure were not followed by the  authorities.  The  present  original
land owners’ lands were notified for acquisition on 24th October,  1961,  of
which  possession was taken four decades later, in  2000;  after  which  the
land owners have yet to see the colour of the paltry amount of  compensation
offered which has neither been tendered nor paid  to  them.   In  the  facts
disclosed by this case, there could not  be  stronger  facts  to  hold  such
acquisition non est in accordance with the object sought to be  achieved  by
Section 24 (2) of the 2013 Act.



21.   At this juncture, it is necessary to advert to a standing  instruction
of the Government of NCT of Delhi dated 12th May, 2006  in  which,  pursuant
to the directions passed by the High Court of Delhi  vide  order  dated  5th
May 2005 in C.W.P. No. 1161 of 1988, the Government  of  NCT  of  Delhi  has
fixed various time  frames  to  complete  acquisition  proceedings.   In  so
doing, what is of significance is contained in paragraphs 3 and 4 which  are
set out hereinbelow:

“3. Taking-over possession of notified land:
As soon as the award is announced,  the  Land  Acquisition  Collector  shall
compulsorily issue notice to the interested persons u/s 12 of the L. A.  Act
and the service of notice shall be kept in records and shall also  submit  a
demand of the compensation amount to the Land & Building Department  with  a
copy to the DDA /intending agency within 30 days of the announcement of  the
award. The Land & Building Department shall forward the demand  to  the  DDA
within 7 days. DDA/other agency will  release  the  payment  to  L&B  Deptt.
within 30 days after receipt of the communication from the  L&B  Department/
LAC as the case may be. As soon as the money is received by the LAC,  notice
u/s 12(2) shall be issued. The LAC will takeover the possession of the  land
and handover the same to the DDA/intending department. The Land  Acquisition
Collector shall not take possession of the acquired land unless & until  the
compensation amount is received by him from the intending department.
It has been noticed that in a large number  of  cases,  the  LACs  have  not
taken over the possession of the notified land as possession  could  not  be
taken by the DDA due to the fact that the land is heavily built  up  and  in
some cases,  some  unauthorized  colonies  have  come  up  which  are  under
consideration of Govt. of India for regularization. In all such  cases,  the
LACs shall prepare a separate list village wise and shall  be  submitted  to
competent authority for taking a policy decision.

4. Payment of Compensation/ Enhanced Compensation:
On receipt of the amount of compensation from DDA/Requisitioning Agency  and
on taking the possession of the land, the Land Acquisition  Collector  shall
send a reference/ letter within  15  days  to  the  interested  persons  for
collecting the payment of compensation. The Land Acquisition Collector  will
make the payment of the compensation within 60 days to the  land  owner.  In
case of any dispute, the Land Acquisition Collector will  refer  the  matter
to the ADJ Court u/s  30  immediately  after  expiry  of  the  60  days.  If
interested person is not coming forward for taking compensation  amount  and
payment cannot be made within 60 days then  compensation  amount  should  be
deposited in the court u/s 31 within next 15 days.”


22.   A cursory reading of these  paragraphs  will  show  that  it  is  only
pursuant to judicial orders that the State wakes up from  its  slumber.   It
is important to note that a notice of award under Section 12(2)  to  persons
interested  can  only  be  issued  after  money  is  received  by  the  Land
Acquisition  Collector,  and  that  the  said  Collector  shall   not   take
possession of land unless and until compensation amount is received by  him.
 Further, actual payment to land owners must be made latest within a  period
of 60 days.  It is high time that the  State  realizes  that  persons  whose
property is expropriated need to be paid immediately so as  to  rehabilitate
themselves. Also, it cannot be forgotten that the amount usually offered  by
way of an award of a Land Acquisition Collector under the 1894  Act  is  way
below the real market value, which is only  awarded  and  paid  years  later
when the reference proceedings culminate in judgments  of  the  High  Courts
and of this Court.
23.   We now come to the argument of Shri Sharan that, in any case,  on  the
facts of this case, the pitch is  queered  by  the  presence  of  subsequent
purchasers.   As has been pointed out in Meera Sahni’s case  [(2008)  9  SCC
177], that the  moment  Section  4  of  the  Delhi  Lands  (Restrictions  on
Transfer) Act, 1972, applies, a sale subsequent to a Section 6  notification
becomes illegal, being hit by Section 4 of the  said  Act.  This  being  the
case, it is of no avail to the State, to submit (which submission  has  been
made in the Supreme Court for the first  time),  that  there  is  a  dispute
between the original owner and the subsequent  purchaser,  as  a  result  of
which compensation could neither be tendered nor paid. Apart from  the  said
plea being an afterthought, it is also of no avail to either the DDA or  the
Land Acquisition Collector who, in any case, were not in any dilemma  as  to
who should be paid.  In fact, it is clear that the  deposit  made  in  Court
pursuant to the order of the High Court of Delhi dated 30th  December,  2013
has only been made  in  order  to  pay  the  original  owner  of  the  land.
Accordingly, this plea has also to be turned down.

24.   We now come to the other grounds on which Shri Sharan, in  particular,
based his arguments.  According to Shri Sharan, a perusal of Section 11A  of
the Land Acquisition Act would show that acquisition proceedings  can  lapse
only before vesting takes place, as once  the  property  is  vested  in  the
State, nothing further remains to be done, and such property  can  never  be
reverted to the original owner.  Section 11A of the Land Acquisition Act  is
set out hereinbelow:

“11A. Period within which an award shall be made- The Collector  shall  make
an award under section 11 within a period of two years from the date of  the
publication of the declaration and if no award is made within  that  period,
the entire proceeding for the acquisition of the land shall lapse:

Provided that in a case  where  the  said  declaration  has  been  published
before the commencement of the Land Acquisition (Amendment)  Act,  1984  (68
of 1984), the award shall be made within a period of  two  years  from  such
commencement.

Explanation - In computing the period of  two  years  referred  to  in  this
section, the period during which any action or proceeding  to  be  taken  in
pursuance of the said declaration is stayed by an order of a Court shall  be
excluded.”


25.   The judgment of Satendra Prasad Jain  (supra)  is  also  pressed  into
service by Shri Sharan, and in particular paragraph 15 thereof, which  reads
as under:
“Ordinarily, the Government can take possession of the land proposed  to  be
acquired only after an award of compensation in  respect  thereof  has  been
made under Section 11. Upon the taking of possession the land vests  in  the
Government, that is to say, the owner of the land loses  to  the  Government
the title to it. This is what Section 16 states. The provisions  of  Section
11A are intended to benefit the landowner and ensure that the award is  made
within a period of two years from the date of the Section 6 declaration.  In
the ordinary case, therefore, when Government fails to make an award  within
two years of the declaration under Section 6, the land has still not  vested
in the Government and its title remains  with  the  owner,  the  acquisition
proceedings are still pending and, by virtue of the  provisions  of  Section
11A, lapse. When Section 17(1) is applied by reason of  urgency,  Government
takes possession of the land prior to the making of the award under  Section
11 and thereupon the owner is divested of the title to  the  land  which  is
vested in the Government. Section 17(1) states  so  in  unmistakable  terms.
Clearly, Section 11A can have no application to cases of acquisitions  under
Section 17 because the lands have  already  vested  in  the  Government  and
there is no provision in the said Act by which land  statutorily  vested  in
the Government can revert to the owner.” [para 15]





26. Satendra Prasad Jain’s case has been held  in  a   subsequent  judgment,
namely,  Laxmi Devi v. State of Bihar, (2015) 10 SCC 241, to have a  limited
ratio.  The limited ratio has been said to be that it is  not  open  to  the
beneficiary of an acquisition who has failed to make  the  necessary  monies
available, and who has been in occupation of the land since  its  possession
was taken, to subsequently urge that such possession  was  taken  illegally.
It is clear that on the facts of that case,  it  was  the  land  owners  who
filed a writ petition asking for a  mandamus  to  complete  the  acquisition
proceedings, and the State and  the  beneficiary  of  acquisition  tried  to
resile from it by contending that the  acquisition  proceedings  had  lapsed
under Section 11A of the Act.  It was in these peculiar  circumstances  that
the aforesaid judgment was delivered.

27.   Even going by paragraph 15 of the  Satendra  Prasad  Jain’s  case,  we
find that the difference in phraseology between  Section  11A  of  the  Land
Acquisition Act and Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act really clinches the  issue
in favour of the  land  owners.   The  expression  used  in  Section  24(2),
namely, “deemed to have lapsed” is of great significance  and  differs  from
the use of the expression “lapsed” in Section 11A. As  is  well  settled,  a
deeming fiction is enacted so that a  putative  state  of  affairs  must  be
imagined, the mind not being allowed to boggle at  the  logical  consequence
of such putative state of affairs.  Even  if  we  are  to  agree  with  Shri
Sharan that, post vesting, acquisition proceedings cannot be said to  lapse,
yet we have to give effect to  the  deeming  fiction  contained  in  Section
24(2).  In fact, Section 24(2) uses the expression “deemed to  have  lapsed”
because the Legislature was cognizant of  the  fact  that,  in  cases  where
compensation has not been paid, and physical possession handed over  to  the
State, vesting has taken place, after  which  land  acquisition  proceedings
could be  said to have ended.  For this reason also,  we  are  of  the  view
that Pune Municipal Corporation does not require to be revisited.

28.    It  remains  to  deal  with  one  submission  of  Shri  A.K.  Sanghi.
According to Shri Sanghi, physical possession has  not  been  taken  of  the
land in dispute.  We are afraid this may  not  be  correct.   The  Panchnama
dated 27th January, 2000 specifically records that possession  of  the  land
above stated was recovered and handed over to  the  representatives  of  the
Office of Land and Buildings.  The Panchnama  is  also  signed  by  all  the
necessary officers.  This piece  of  land  admittedly  being  open  land  is
governed by the ratio of Raghbir Singh Sehrawat v. State of Haryana &  Ors.,
(2012) 1 SCC 792 in which it has been held:

“In Banda Development Authority v. Moti Lal  Agarwal [(2011)  5  SCC  394  :
(2011) 2 SCC (Civ) 747] , the Court referred  to  the  judgments  in Balwant
Narayan  Bhagde v. M.D.  Bhagwat [(1976)  1  SCC  700]  , Balmokand   Khatri
Educational and Industrial  Trust v. State  of  Punjab [(1996)  4  SCC  212]
, P.K.  Kalburqi v. State  of   Karnataka [(2005)   12   SCC   489]   , NTPC
Ltd. v. Mahesh Dutta [(2009) 8 SCC 339 : (2009) 3 SCC (Civ) 375] , Sita  Ram
Bhandar Society v. Govt. (NCT of Delhi) [(2009) 10 SCC 501 :  (2009)  4  SCC
(Civ) 268] and culled out the  following  propositions:  (Banda  Development
Authority case [(2011) 5 SCC 394 : (2011) 2 SCC (Civ) 747]  ,  SCC  p.  411,
para 37)
(i) No hard-and-fast rule can be laid down as to what act would  constitute
taking of possession of the acquired land.
(ii) If the acquired  land  is  vacant,  the  act  of  the  State  authority
concerned to go to the spot and  prepare  a  panchnama  will  ordinarily  be
treated as sufficient to constitute taking of possession.
(iii) If crop  is  standing  on  the  acquired  land  or  building/structure
exists, mere going on the spot by the authority concerned will,  by  itself,
be not sufficient for taking possession.  Ordinarily,  in  such  cases,  the
authority concerned will  have  to  give  notice  to  the  occupier  of  the
building/structure or the person  who  has  cultivated  the  land  and  take
possession  in  the  presence  of  independent  witnesses  and   get   their
signatures on the panchnama. Of course, refusal of the owner of the land  or
building/structure may not lead to an inference that the possession  of  the
acquired land has not been taken.
(iv) If the acquisition is of a large tract of land, it may not be  possible
for the acquiring/designated authority to take physical possession  of  each
and every parcel of the  land  and  it  will  be  sufficient  that  symbolic
possession is taken by preparing appropriate document  in  the  presence  of
independent witnesses and getting their signatures on such document.
(v) If beneficiary of the acquisition is an  agency/instrumentality  of  the
State and 80% of the total compensation is deposited  in  terms  of  Section
17(3-A) and substantial portion of the acquired land has  been  utilised  in
furtherance of the particular public purpose, then the court may  reasonably
presume that possession of the acquired land has been taken.” [para 27]


29. As the present  case  will  fall  within  sub-paragraph  (ii),  physical
possession of the land can be said to have been taken on the  facts  of  the
present case.

30.   Having regard to the law declared in the  Pune  Municipal  Corporation
case, as followed by the other judgments  of  this  Court,  we  are  of  the
opinion that the High Court is correct and that the impugned judgment  calls
for no interference.  The appeals are, accordingly, dismissed.

..............................J.
(KURIAN JOSEPH)


..............................J.
(R.F. NARIMAN)
New Delhi;
September 9, 2016














-----------------------
[1]    Bimla Devi & Ors. v. State of Haryana & Ors.  (2014)  6  SCC  583  at
para 3; Union of India (UOI) and Ors.  v. Shiv Raj and Ors.   (2014)  6  SCC
564 at para 22; Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Association v. State of  Tamil
Nadu (2015) 3 SCC 353 at para 14; State of Haryana v. Vinod Oil and  General
Mills 2014 (15) SCC 410 at para 21; Sita Ram v.  State  of  Haryana  &  Anr.
(2015) 3 SCC 597 at paras 19, 21; Ram Kishan & Ors v.  State  of  Haryana  &
Ors. (2015) 4 SCC 347 at paras 8, 9, 12; Velaxan Kumar v. Union of  India  &
Ors. 2015 (4) SCC 325 at paras 15, 16, 17; Karnail Kaur v. State  of  Punjab
(2015) 3 SCC 206 at paras 17, 18, 23; Rajiv Choudhrie HUF v. Union of  India
and Ors. 2015 (3) SCALE 203 at para 1; Competent  Automobiles  Co.  Ltd.  v.
Union of India and Ors. AIR 2015 SC 3186 at para 4; Govt. of  NCT  of  Delhi
and Ors v. Jagjit Singh and Ors. AIR 2015 SC 2683 at  para  3;  Karan  Singh
and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Ors. 2015 (7) SCALE 191 at  para  5;  Delhi
Development Authority v. Sukhbir Singh & Ors. SLP (CC) No. 5569 of  2015  at
page 5; Shashi Gupta and Ors. v. State of Haryana and  Ors. 2016  (5)  SCALE
636 at para 5.




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