2023 0 Supreme(SC) 203
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
M.R. SHAH, C.T. RAVIKUMAR, JJ.
Land Acquisition Collector & Anr. - Appellants
Ashok Kumar & Ors. - Respondents
Civil Appeal No. 482 of 2023 (@ SLP (C) No. 1866 of 2023) (@ Diary No. 29470 of 2021)
Decided On : 13-03-2023
Lapse of land acquisition proceeding – Section 24(2) of 2013 Act does not give rise to new cause of action to question legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition.
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 – Section 24(2) – Lapse of land acquisition proceeding – Section 24(2) of 2013 Act does not give rise to new cause of action to question legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition – Section 24 applies to a proceeding pending on the date of enforcement of 2013 Act i.e. 1-1-2014 – It does not revive stale and time-barred claims and does not reopen concluded proceedings nor allow landowners to question legality of mode of taking possession to reopen proceedings or mode of deposit of compensation in treasury instead of court to invalidate acquisition – Impugned judgment and order passed by High Court allowing writ petition and declaring that acquisition in respect of land in question is deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of Act, 2013, hereby quashed and set aside – Original writ petition before High Court stands dismissed – There shall be no deemed lapse of acquisition with respect to land in question under Section 24(2) of Act, 2013. (Paras 3, 6 and 7)
Result : Appeal allowed.
Advocates appeared :For the Appellant(s) : Ms. Sujeeta Srivastava, AOR For the Respondent(s) : Ms. Kaveeta Wadia, Adv. Ms. Astha Sharma, AOR Ms. Mantika Haryani, Adv. Ms. Sruthi Venugopal, Adv.
M.R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court of Delhi at New Delhi in Writ Petition (C) No. 3581 of 2015, by which, the High Court has allowed the said writ petition and has declared that the acquisition with respect to the land in question is deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as “Act, 2013”), the Land Acquisition Collector & Anr. have preferred the present appeal.
2. Having heard learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respective parties and having gone through the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court it can be seen that by the impugned judgment and order the High Court has declared that the acquisition with respect to the land in question is deemed to have lapsed on the ground that neither the possession of the land in question was taken nor the compensation has been tendered/paid and relying upon the earlier decision of this Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation and Anr. Vs. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki and Ors., (2014) 3 SCC 183, and decision of the High Court in the case of Gyanender Singh & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors decided on 23.09.2014 in W.P. (C) No. 1393/2014.
3. However, it is required to be noted that before the High Court it was the specific case on behalf of the appellant(s) and so recorded by the High Court in paragraph 4 of the impugned judgment and order that the physical possession could not be taken because of the operation of stay order passed in writ petitions in which the stay order was continuing. The High Court has also observed that “it is an admitted position that the stay order continued to operate till 01.01.2014 when the 2013 Act came into effect.” In the case of Indore Development Authority Vs. Manoharlal and Ors., (2020) 8 SCC 129, the Constitution Bench of this Court has observed in paragraph 366 as under:-
“366. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we answer the questions as under:
366.1. Under the provisions of Section 24(1)(a) in case the award is not made as on 1-1-2014, the date of commencement of the 2013 Act, there is no lapse of proceedings. Compensation has to be determined under the provisions of the 2013 Act.
366.2. In case the award has been passed within the window period of five years excluding the period covered by an interim order of the court, then proceedings shall continue as provided under Section 24(1)(b) of the 2013 Act under the 1894 Act as if it has not been repealed.
366.3. The word “or” used in Section 24(2) between possession and compensation has to be read as “nor” or as “and”. The deemed lapse of land acquisition proceedings under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act takes place where due to inaction of authorities for five years or more prior to commencement of the said Act, the possession of land has not been taken nor compensation has been paid. In other words, in case possession has been taken, compensation has not been paid then there is no lapse. Similarly, if compensation has been paid, possession has not been taken then there is no lapse.
366.4. The expression “paid” in the main part of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not include a deposit of compensation in court. The consequence of non-deposit is provided in the proviso to Section 24(2) in case it has not been deposited with respect to majority of landholdings then all beneficiaries (landowners) as on the date of notification for land acquisition under Section 4 of the 1894 Act shall be entitled to compensation in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 Act. In case the obligation under Section 31 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 has not been fulfilled, interest under Section 34 of the said Act can be granted. Non-deposit of compensation (in court) does not result in the lapse of land acquisition proceedings. In case of non-deposit with respect to the majority of holdings for five years or more, compensation under the 2013 Act has to be paid to the “landowners” as on the date of notification for land acquisition under Section 4 of the 1894 Act.
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