The Punjab and Haryana High Court recently refused to exercise its writ jurisdiction in a dispute with regard to the assessment of the nature of the land to be acquired by the National Highway Authority of India and its market value.
The bench comprising Justice Anil Kshetarpal held that as per the scheme of the National Highways Act, 1956, in case of any dispute, the amount is to be assessed by the Arbitrator, nominated by the Central Government.
"As per Section 3G of the National Highways Act, 1956, if the amount determined by the competent authority is not acceptable to either of the parties, then on the application, the Central Government is required to refer the matter to the Arbitrator," the Bench observed at the outset.
Section 3G (Determination of amount payable as compensation) of the Act provides that if the amount determined by the competent authority under the Acr is not acceptable to either of the parties, the amount shall, on an application by either of the parties, be determined by the arbitrator to be appointed by the Central Government and the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 shall apply to every arbitration.
In the instant case, NHAI had sought quashing of a corrigendum award passed by the competent authority. The competent authority had modified the award to the extent that certain parcel of land, which was previously assessed as agricultural land, was now assessed as the land used for residential/commercial purpose.
"Ultimately, the dispute between the parties is with regard to the correct assessment of the nature of the land as well as its market value. Since such matter lies within the domain of the Arbitrator which is the statutory Arbitrator it is considered appropriate to relegate the petitioner to the remedy before the Arbitrator," the Court observed.
It added that the Arbitrator under NHAI Act is conferred with the same powers as a Reference Court appointed under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 or the Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
In the instant case, the court observed that the dispute between the parties is with regard to the correct assessment of the nature of the land as well as its market value which lies within the domain of the Arbitrator. Therefore, it is appropriate to relegate the petitioner to the remedy before the Arbitrator.
Accordingly, the instant writ petition was disposed of.
Case Title: National Highway Authority of India Versus The Competent Authority, Land Acquisition-cum-District Revenue Officer, Ludhiana and others, with connected matters
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 143