'Failure to comply with the provisions of section 5-A of the Land Acquisition Act (hearing of objections of the owner/interested person) results in vitiation of the acquisition proceedings', reinforced the Bombay High Court on Friday.
In the present case, the petitioner had sought to demonstrate that the work of extension of the road could be undertaken without acquiring his land as proposed. It is the grievance of the petitioner that he was not granted any personal hearing nor was his objection considered. Moreover, the Notification under section 6 of the Act came to be published by which his land stood acquired. The petitioner subsequently raised another objection to the acquisition. Since no cognisance was taken of that either, the HC was moved.
"The right of a landowner to raise objections to acquisition proceedings under Section 5-A of the said Act is well recognised...It is thus seen that Section-5-A of the said Act confers a valuable right in favour of a person whose lands are to be acquired. If objection to the acquisition proceedings are raised, same have to be adjudicated by indicating brief reasons which could demonstrate objective application of mind to the entire record", observed the court.
The bench noted that in the present case, there is no material whatsoever produced on record to indicate that the petitioner was duly heard on the objections raised by him or that those objections were adjudicated upon. There is nothing on record to indicate application of mind by the Special Land Acquisition Officer to those objections or any material indicating reasons for their rejection. "Without adverting to the objections as such the Special Land Acquisition Officer has proceeded further with the acquisition proceedings. This has thus vitiated the entire process of acquisition", court concluded.
The Division Bench considered that it was urged on behalf of the respondents that the petitioner in his objection had indicated his inclination to receive compensation at the rate of Rs.8000/- per sq. ft. for the land and Rs.1000/- per sq. ft. for the constructed portion. "The same would not mean that the petitioner did not intend to pursue his objection and had given up the same", the HC decided.
The bench also could not accept the submission that the objections raised by the petitioner were without any merits- "It was for the Special Land Acquisition Officer to have applied his mind to the objections as raised and to have taken a decision on the same. This Court cannot undertake the exercise of examining the said objections in absence of same not being considered by the Special Land Acquisition Officer"
"There is no other option but to declare that the entire process of acquisition pursuant to the Notification issued under Section 4 of the said Act (...) has been vitiated. The said proceedings are accordingly set aside. Needless to state that the respondents are free to take further steps for acquiring said land if advised in accordance with law...Rule is made absolute in aforesaid terms", declared the HC.
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