12 Aug 2023 11:25 AM GMT
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta, recently examined the objective of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (2013 Act) while allowing an appeal. The Court held that for fair compensation under the said act, “it is imperative that a fair opportunity of hearing is...
A Division Bench of the Supreme Court, comprising Justices Surya Kant and Dipankar Datta, recently examined the objective of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (2013 Act) while allowing an appeal. The Court held that for fair compensation under the said act, “it is imperative that a fair opportunity of hearing is given to the persons whose rights are affected. This requires that the interested person is given an effective opportunity to put forth his or her claim. Any deviation to the prescribed procedure, especially when it has seemingly affected the interested person, would militate with the very object of legislative mandate.”
In view of the same, the Court allowed the appeal and directed the competent authority to hear the Appellant’s representations.
The Appellant is stated to be the owner of land admeasuring 4970 sq. meters bearing Survey No.113/27 situated in Village Amli, Silvassa, Union Territory of Dadra & Nagar Haveli. Subsequently, the Respondent authorities carried out the acquisition under the 2013 Act.
The Collector-Dadra and Nagar Haveli, thereafter, issued a notice on 04.03.2020 to the Appellant under Section 21 of the 2013 Act to appear and raise its objections, if any, concerning the determination of the amount of compensation. The Appellant sent a communication on 20.03.2020 requesting the Collector grant time to submit the objections as the Appellant could not contact its lawyer due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in Mumbai. Without considering that request, the Collector passed the award on 04.05.2020. The Appellant, thereafter, challenged the award in a writ petition before the High Court; however, the same was dismissed observing that the appellant can initiate proceedings to seek enhancement of the award. Thus, the present appeal.
The Court delved into the various aspects of the 2013 Act. It observed that the very object of issuing notice under Section 21 of the said is to give the interested persons a fair and reasonable opportunity to submit their claim concerning the compensation for the acquired land. Such compensation can be claimed on the basis of various factors that may be relevant in the context of acquisition.
Further, as per Section 23 of the 2013 Act, Collector is obligated to hold an inquiry on certain relevant aspects, including the objections submitted by the interested persons, and pass an award concerning: (a) the exact area of the acquired land; (b) the compensation as may be determined under Section 27 of the Act; and (c) the apportionment of the said compensation among all the persons known or believed to be interested in the land.
Based on these observations, the Court opined:
“In the case at hand, the Appellant has not been accorded a hearing in terms of Section 21 of the 2013 Act. Thus, in the absence of objections, which the Appellant could not file for the reasons beyond its control, no inquiry as per Section 23 of the 2013 Act could be held.”
Accordingly, considering that the Appellant is entitled to seek fair market value and should be given one opportunity to submit objections, the Court ordered:
“The Collector–respondent no.3 is directed to issue a fresh notice to the Appellant under Section 21 of the 2013 Act within two weeks from the date of receipt of the copy of this order. The Appellant shall submit its objections, if any, within the stipulated period. The Collector shall, thereafter, hear the Appellant's representative and pass award afresh after conducting inquiry in accordance with the scheme of 2013 Act.”
Case Title: M/ S. TIRUPATI DEVELOPERS v. THE UNION TERRITORY OF DADRA AND NAGAR HAVELI & ORS., CIVIL APPEAL NO.4952 OF 2023
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 632
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