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Gujarat High Court Directs NHAI To Re-Compute Compensation For Agricultural Land Acquired In 2014 For Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway

PRIYANKA PREET
22 April 2022 10:32 AM GMT
Gujarat High Court Directs NHAI To Re-Compute Compensation For Agricultural Land Acquired In 2014 For Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway
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The Gujarat High Court recently allowed the writ petition of a land-owner, seeking directions to re-compute the award passed by the competent authority in pursuance of land acquisition proceedings for the purpose of construction of Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway. The Petitioners sought that the compensation be revised by applying the market value of the land with Multiplier Factor-2 since the...

The Gujarat High Court recently allowed the writ petition of a land-owner, seeking directions to re-compute the award passed by the competent authority in pursuance of land acquisition proceedings for the purpose of construction of Vadodara-Mumbai Expressway.

The Petitioners sought that the compensation be revised by applying the market value of the land with Multiplier Factor-2 since the land was a 'rural area'. All other statutory benefits under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 including solatium under Section 30(1) and interest under Section 30(3) of the Act.

The facts of the case were that the land in question was not falling within the limits of any 'transitional area, smaller urban area or larger urban area' as defined under Article 243(Q)(2) of the Constitution and further did not fall within the ambit of any urban local body or municipal corporation. The major economic activity was agriculture and no significant non-agricultural activities were undertaken in the village. Hence, it was his case that the land should be considered as 'rural area'.

The Petitioner averred that the Competent authority acquired the land in 2014 and passed an award for compensation in 2017. However, the acquired land was situated in rural area, Respondent No. 2 applied factor 1 and not factor 2 while computing the compensation.

It is to be noted that Multiplier Factor 2 is applied when the land in question is situated 20 kilometers away from urban areas. In such instances, the market value of the land is multiplied by 2. The market value of rural land is multiplied if such land is acquired by the Government.

The Bench comprising Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice Ashutosh Shastri observed that the issue was identical to the issued decided by the Coordinate Bench of the High Court in Shah Rajesh Manibhai vs. National Highway Authority of India in SCA No. 5913 of 2021 where the case was sent back to authorities for re-evaluation and another case of Dilipbhai Ganpatbhai Parmar vs. Competent Authority SCA No. 12140 of 2021. The former order was based upon the decision of the Division Bench of the High Court which was also affirmed by the Supreme Court.

Respondent No. 2 further submitted that as in the other cases, if it was found that the Petitioners were entitled to Factor-2 for compensation and benefits, the Respondent No. 2 authority shall make the deposit within 21 days of such determination.

Keeping in view the decision of the Courts in Shah Rajesh and Dilipbhai where the cases were sent back to the authority for re-computation, the High Court, in the instant case disposed of the petition with the same directions and terms. The High Court in Shah Rajesh had directed:

"…without dealing with the submissions of exclusivity of competent authority for determination of compensation and keeping the same open, to be decided in an appropriate matter, we deem it appropriate to DIRECT the competent authority to re-compute the market value of the land of the petitioners herein, by applying the appropriate multiplication factor for the amount of compensation and follow the dictum of the Apex Court in all respects."

It was clarified that if the Petitioners moved for re-determination of compensation before the Arbitrator under Section 3(G)(5) of the National Highways Act, 1956, the Petitioners may not insist for Factor-2 claim. Alternatively, the Respondents were permitted to appraise the Arbitrator of the issue to prevent multiplicity of proceedings.

Case Title: LH OF LATE HARIJAN SHIVABHAI BAPUBHAI, HARIJAN VINODBHAI S/O LATE ZAVERBHAI SHIVABHAI HARIJAN Versus STATE OF GUJARAT

Case No.: C/SCA/6623/2022

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