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The Provisions For The Quantum Of Damages Under Land Acquisition Act, 2013 Would Apply To Arbitrations Under The Resettlement Of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948: Delhi High Court

Ausaf Ayyub
24 May 2022 7:23 AM GMT
Delhi High Court
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The High Court of Delhi has held that the provisions for the quantum of damages under Land Acquisition Act, 2013 (LARR Act) would apply to arbitrations under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948.

The Single Bench of Justice Navin Chawla has held that the provisions of the LARR Act being beneficial in nature would also apply to all the pending arbitrations under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act.

The Court further held that only the provisions qua the quantum of compensation under the LARR Act are made applicable and the arbitrator appointed under Section 7 of the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act would continue to determine the amount of compensation and not the collector under the LARR Act.

Facts

In the year 1953, the Respondent acquired the property of the petitioner. The Court vide an order dated 19.04.1996 passed in the CWP No. 2658 of 1993 appointed an arbitrator to determine the quantum of compensation payable to the petitioner. The said arbitrator tendered his resignation, thereafter, the petitioner filed another writ for the appointment of the substitute arbitrator.

The Court directed the petitioner to make a request to the respondent for the appointment of the arbitrator. Accordingly, the petitioner requested the respondent to appoint the substitute arbitrator, however, the respondent failed to make the appointment.

Afterward, the petitioner filed another writ petition for the appointment of the substitute arbitrator under Section 7(1)(b) of the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948 and the Court by an order dated 21.01.2021 directed the respondent to appoint the arbitrator.

It is against the order dated 21,01.2021 that the applicant filed the review petition seeking review and modification of the order on the ground that in terms of the provision of the LARR Act, 2013, the quantum of compensation is to be determined by the collector, therefore, the arbitrator has no jurisdiction to decide the matter.

The Court appointed an Amicus Curiae to assist the Court.

The Contention of the Parties

The review applicant sought a review of the order dated 21.02.2021 on the following grounds:

  • That with the promulgation of the Repeal and Amending Act, 2016 (RAA), the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act has been completely repealed, hence, the appointment of the arbitrator under the said act is bad in law.
  • Section 105 of the LARR Act empowers the Central Government to extend the application of the LARR Act to acquisitions made under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons (Land Acquisition) Act, 1948 and the Government issued an order in the year 2015 to that effect.
  • Accordingly, the quantum of compensation payable to the petitioner must be in terms of the LARR Act and only the collector under the said act can determine the compensation.
  • Section 24 of the LARR Act begins with a non-obstante clause and empowers the collector to determine the quantum of compensation payable even under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act where no award is made.

The respondent nos. 5,7,10,12,14 and 21 countered the submissions of the petitioner on the following grounds:

  • Section 24 of the LARR Act which empowers the collector to determine the quantum of compensation applies only to acquisitions made under the Land Acquisition Act, 1984 and not to the acquisitions made under the Resettlement of the Displaced Persons Act, 1948.
  • That in terms of Section 4 of the RAA, the repeal of the Resettlement of the Displaced Persons Act by RAA shall not affect the fora of determination of compensation.
  • The application of the LARR Act to the acquisitions made under the Resettlement of the Displaced Persons Act is limited to the extent of determining the quantum of compensation and it does not oust the jurisdiction of the arbitrator.
  • It is only the arbitrator who would determine the compensation keeping in mind the provisions of the LARR Act.

The Amicus Curiae made the following submissions:

  • Section 24 of the LARR Act only applies to acquisitions made under the Land Acquisitions Act and to no other acquisitions made under any other enactment.
  • In terms of Section 105 of LARR Act read with the 2015 Central Government order, the provisions of LARR Act to the extent of determining the compensation are made applicable to the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act. However, the provisions of LARR Act would only apply to acquisitions that are subsequent to the date of coming into force of the LARR Act.
  • That in terms of Section 4 of RAA which saves all the proceedings pending under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act, the arbitrator appointed shall continue to determine the compensation having regard to Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act.

The respondent no. 22 countered the contentions of the petitioner on the following grounds:

  • The provisions of the LARR Act would have no application to the acquisitions made under the Resettlement of the Displaced Persons Act and the arbitrator would determine the compensation in terms of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Analysis By The Court

The Court observed that originally the arbitrator was to determine the quantum of compensation for the acquisitions made under the Resettlement of the Displaced Persons Act in terms of Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act.

However, with the coming into force of the LARR Act and the 2015 order of the government extending its applicability to acquisitions under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act, the quantum of compensation is to be determined in terms of the provisions of the LARR Act only.

The Court rejected the argument of the Amicus Curiae that the LARR Act would only apply to prospective acquisitions. The Court held that the provisions of the LARR Act would also apply to arbitrations under the Resettlement of the Displaced Persons Act where the award has not been made.

The Court held that there is also no reason to limit such application to only the acquisitions made after the coming into force of the LARR Act and/or the 2015 Order. The provisions being beneficial in nature, must have full application to all pending proceedings as well.

The Court rejected the argument of the applicant that as the LARR Act applies, only the collector could determine the compensation and hence the arbitrator is without any jurisdiction. The Court held that the effect of Section 105(3) read with the government order of 2015 is limited to the extent of applying only the provisions related to the determination of compensation. It does not take away the power of the arbitrator to decide on the issue.

The Court held that the LARR Act clearly distinguishes between the powers and functions entrusted to the Collector and how the compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement package has to be determined.

The Court held that Section 24 of the LARR Act only applies to the acquisitions made under the Land Acquisitions Act, 1894 and has no application to the present proceedings. The Court held as under:

"A reading of the provisions of the LARR Act, along with the law settled by the Supreme Court, clearly indicates that while beneficial provisions of the LARR Act, as contained in the First Schedule, the Second Schedule and the Third Schedule, would apply to the acquisitions made under the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act, where the Award has not been made by the Arbitrator in terms of Section 7 of the Resettlement of Displaced Persons Act, the pending proceedings shall continue before the Arbitrator itself."

Accordingly, the Court directed the arbitrator to determine the compensation applying the provisions of the LAAR Act.

Case Title: Rajinder Kumar Agarwal v. Union of India, W.P.(C) 14025 of 2018

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 507

Counsel for the Petitioner: Ms. Vandana Sharma, Adv.

Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. Ripu Daman Bhardwaj, CGSC for UOI. Mr. Jayant K. Mehta, Sr. Adv. with Ms. Gurmeet Bindra, Mr.Arun Sri Kumar & Mr. Atharv Gupta, Advs. for R-5, 7, 10, 12 & 14 to 21. Mr. Shiranshu Kumar & Mr. Sankalp Jain, Advs. for Review Applicant. Mr. Yeeshu Jain, Standing Counsel for R-22 with Ms. Jyoti Tyagi, Adv. Mr. Rajesh Yadav, Sr. Adv. with Ms. Ruchira V. Arora, Adv. (Amicus Curiae)

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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