SC Sets Up Constitution Bench To Settle Interpretation Of Sec. 24 Of New Land Acquisition Act

SC Sets Up Constitution Bench To Settle Interpretation Of Sec. 24 Of New Land Acquisition Act

The Court will decide the issue whether land acquisition will lapse on non deposit of compensation within prescribed time

The Supreme Court has set up a Constitution Bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah and Ravindra Bhat to settle the conflicting interpretations given to Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act.

The hearing will commence from October 15.

The matter was referred to the Constitution bench following conflicting judgments by two different benches having composition of three judges.

The issue is interpretation of Section 24 of the Right To Fair Compensation And Transparency In Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. In 2014, a three-Judge bench interpreted this provision in Pune Municipal Corporation v Harakchand Misirimal Solanki to hold that those acquisition proceedings initiated under the 1894 Act five years prior to the coming into force of the 2013 Act would lapse if the acquired land was not taken possession of by the State, or compensation was not paid to the displaced farmers. This bench was presided by Justice R.M.Lodha, who has since retired, and comprised of Justices Madan B.Lokur and Kurian Joseph.

The bench held in this case that if the landholder refuses to receive the compensation, then it should be deposited with a court, rather than in the Government treasury if the proceedings were not to lapse.

Another bench consisting of Justices Arun Mishra, Adarsh Kumar Goel and Mohan M.Shantanagoudar , on February 8, 2018, in Indore Development Authority v Shailendra (D) Through LRS & Ors, overruled this ruling in Pune Municipal Corporation holding that the landholder, cannot take advantage of his own wrong, by refusing to take the compensation under the old Act, in order to make it lapse, so that he could get the benefit of higher compensation under the 2013 Act. Justice Shantanagoudar had dissented from the majority judgment.

Later, a three-Judge bench presided by Justice Madan B Lokur, stayed the hearing of compensation matters in the land acquisition cases in all the high courts till the issue was settled. This bench took objection to the bench in Indore Development Authority case overruling a precedent laid down by a coordinate bench.

Later, two two-Judge benches, one presided by Justice Arun Mishra and another by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel (who were part of the bench which decided Indore Development Authority case), made a reference to the CJI for constituting a larger bench, to settle the controversy.