Supreme Court: Once Acquisition under Land Acquisition Act 1894 Continues to be valid, Claimant Cannot Seek Compensation under Compensation Act, 2013 The Supreme Court has observed that once it is held that the acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 continues to be valid, then the claimant is not entitled to seek compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation Transparency in...
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Supreme Court: Once Acquisition under Land Acquisition Act 1894 Continues to be valid, Claimant Cannot Seek Compensation under Compensation Act, 2013
The Supreme Court has observed that once it is held that the acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 continues to be valid, then the claimant is not entitled to seek compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement, Act 2013.
The bench comprising of Justices Abhay S Oka and Sanjay Karol were adjudicating an appeal filed by the Delhi Development Authority challenging a direction of the Delhi High Court to award compensation to the claimant as per the 2013 Act.
The factual matrix of the case is that in 1989, the respondent’s land was acquired by issuing a notification under section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, of 1894. An award was passed under Section 11 in 1992. He challenged the acquisition proceedings but it was dismissed in 2005. In 2006, the appellant took over the possession of the land.
Subsequently, in 2014 the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 came into force. In 2015, the respondent filed a writ petition before the High Court contending that as per section 24(2) of the Act, 2013, the acquisition can be considered to have lapsed.
The High Court had observed that physical possession has been taken but compensation has not been paid. Both conditions need to be fulfilled. Therefore, section 24(2) of the 2013 Act would apply and the proceedings would lapse.
The High Court relied upon Supreme Court’s decision in Pune Municipal Corporation vs. Harakchand(2014) and directed the appellant to pay compensation as per the 2013 Act.
After noting the facts and submissions, the Supreme Court noted that the judgment in Pune Municipal Corporation, which was followed by the Delhi High Court, was expressly overruled by Constitutional Bench in Indore Development Authority vs. Manoharlal (2020).
The bench upon perusal of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act, held that, “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.”
Therefore, the bench was of the view that if the state fulfills either of those 2 conditions- either taking possession/payment of compensation then the proceedings would not lapse.
Averting to the present case, the Court held that since possession was taken over in 2006, therefore section 24(2) would not apply. Therefore, the proceedings under the 1894 Act cannot be held to be lapsed.
The Apex Court held that High Court’s direction that compensation be paid to the respondent in terms of 2013 Act since the land was already put to public use was unsustainable.
“Once it is held that the acquisition under the 1894 Act continues to be valid, the first respondent is disentitled to claim compensation payable in terms of the 2013 Act which was not applicable to the acquisition. However, the appellant is entitled to receive compensation already determined under the award made under the 1894 Act,” the Court added.
With respect to the contention of Condonation of delay, the Court noted that in this case the, special leave petition was filed by the appellant 2 years after the decision in Indore Development Authority (2020). The acquired land was already put to use for important public purposes of the metro depot.
“The use of the land for public purposes for the last several years is certainly a relevant factor for adopting a liberal approach while considering the prayer for condoning the delay,” the Court observed.
Therefore, the Court held that a liberal and justice-oriented approach must be adopted to condone the delay.