Land Acquisition Lapses If Possession Has Not Been Taken & Compensation Unpaid: Bombay HC [Read Order]

The Bombay High Court recently allowed a petition filed under Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice NM Jamdar ruled that the acquisition proceedings had lapsed under Section 24(2) of the said Act and hence, the petition was allowed.

Case Background

A piece of land situated in Nasrapur village of Pune district was sought to be acquired by the district resettlement officer, who forwarded a proposal for the same. A notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was issued on May 31, 1999. After the declaration under Section 6 of the Act of 1894 on December 28, 2000, the award was passed on April 21, 2001.

Submissions And Final Order

Counsel for the petitioners Anish Khandekar submitted that the acquisition proceedings have lapsed in view of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

It was contended that since the possession of the land in question is still with the petitioners and the compensation is not paid, by virtue of Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013, the acquisition has lapsed.

Under Section 24(2), three parameters have been indicated and satisfaction of these would mean that land acquisition proceedings have lapsed.

First, the award should be published five years prior to the date of commencement of the Act, i.e., January 1, 2014. Second, the physical possession of the land is not taken. Third, the compensation is not paid.

In the present case, an award was passed 13 years prior to the enactment of the new Act. The court also noted the assertion by petitioners that they were still in possession of the said land even though the state insisted in its affidavit that possession has been taken by them.

The court noted that it was difficult for them to ascertain who was in possession of the land based on the material placed. Thus, the view taken by the high court in Santosh Dnyaneshwar Aher v/s State of Maharashtra Through its Secretary & Ors was referred to.

In the case, it was held that in order for application of Section 24(2) to a case, either conditions i.e., non-possession of land or non-payment of compensation must be satisfied.

This view was upheld by the apex court in the case of Delhi Development Authority v/s Sukhbir Singh and Ors.

In his affidavit, Satara special land acquisition officer stated that the compensation amount had been deposited in the sub-divisional office account.

The court observed that the apex court had ruled that Section 31 (2) of the Act of 1894, which envisages deposit of the compensation amount with the court, is a mandatory provision.

As per Section 31(2), if the compensation is not accepted or collected by the claimant, the compensation has to be deposited by the collector in the court where the reference can be made under Section 18 of the Act of 1894.

Accordingly, the petition was allowed.

Read the Order Here