17 March 2023 3:45 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently held that once a land acquisition compensation award is passed under the National Highways Act, 1956 by the competent authority, the authority cannot make corrections in it.A division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice MM Sathaye held – “The National Highways Act, 1956 being the self-contained code, the provisions of Section 33 of the Fair Compensation...
The Bombay High Court recently held that once a land acquisition compensation award is passed under the National Highways Act, 1956 by the competent authority, the authority cannot make corrections in it.
A division bench of Justice RD Dhanuka and Justice MM Sathaye held –
“The National Highways Act, 1956 being the self-contained code, the provisions of Section 33 of the Fair Compensation Act, 2013 granting the limited powers in respect of the award declared under the provisions of the Fair Compensation Act, 2013 cannot be extended to the award declared under the provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956.”
"It cannot be held that the Competent Authority under the National Highways Act, 1956, would have any power or authority to either correct the award for any reason whatsoever or for that matter, to pass an additional award or to review the same," it added.
Section 33 of the Fair Compensation Act allows the collector to correct any clerical or arithmetic mistakes within six months of passing an award under the Act.
The petitioners are the owners of four-acre land in a village in Solapur district. The National Highways Authority proposed acquisition of the land for extension of four lane Highway between Solapur to Gulbarga. The Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition) was appointed as the competent authority for acquisition proceedings. The Deputy Collector declared an award under section 3(G)(1) of the National Highways Act and determined compensation of Rs. 49,39,164/-. This award was not challenged by any party.
A notice was issued to the petitioners for receiving compensation amount in July 2021. However, in September, one Nagesh Patil, who took charge as the Deputy Collector in August 2021, declared a Modified Supplementary Award effective from March 2021. He decreased the compensation amount to Rs. 30,49,645/-. Hence the present writ petition.
Advocate Manoj Patil for the petitioners argued that no such supplementary award could have been made by the competent authority after the original award was made.
Advocate Chandan Athani for the Highways Authority submitted that his client has already deposited the original compensation amount. Further, it does not know why the amount was reduced as it had not challenged the award.
The court noted that the state could not point out any provision empowering the competent authority to pass the supplementary award. It added that Patil illegally declared the supplementary award with retrospective effect.
Thus, the court directed the government to conduct an enquiry as to how he made a supplementary award without any authority of law and with retrospective effect especially after notice was already issued to the petitioners to collect the original amount.
The court noted that section 3(G)(5) of the National Highways Act provides the redressal mechanism for any grievance arising out of an award by filing an application before the arbitrator to be appointed by Central Government.
The court said that the National Highways Authority could have pursued this remedy if it were aggrieved by the compensation amount and the same remedy is also available to the landowner. However, nobody challenged the original award in this case, it noted.
Relying on Bhupendrasingh v. Competent Authority and Ors., the court said that the competent authority cannot tinker with the award once it is passed.
Thus, the court held that section 33 of the Fair Compensation Act, 2013 would not be applicable to acquisition proceedings under the National Highways Act.
Therefore, the court directed the balance amount to be released by the competent authority to the petitioners.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 5327 of 2022
Case Title – Sangeeta Natwarlal Karwa and Anr. v. State of Maharashtra and Ors.
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Bom) 145
Click Here To Read/Download Judgment