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Proviso Under Section 24 Of Land Acquisition Act, 2013 Is A Proviso To 24(1) (b) or To Section 24(2)? SC Refers To Larger Bench

Ashok Kini
28 Feb 2019 5:18 AM GMT
Proviso Under Section 24 Of Land Acquisition Act, 2013 Is A Proviso To 24(1) (b) or To Section 24(2)? SC Refers To Larger Bench
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“This is a case where the old British ditty comes to mind: “I’m the Parliament’s draftsman, I compose the country’s laws, And of half the litigation I’m undoubtedly the cause!””

The Supreme Court has referred to a larger bench for reconsidering the judgment in Delhi Metro Rail Corporation v. Tarun Pal Singh, which held that the proviso to Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 governs Section 24(2) and not Section 24(1)(b). The bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman...

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The Supreme Court has referred to a larger bench for reconsidering the judgment in Delhi Metro Rail Corporation v. Tarun Pal Singh, which held that the proviso to Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 governs Section 24(2) and not Section 24(1)(b).

The bench comprising Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran opined that the said proviso is really a proviso to Section 24(1)(b) and not to Section 24(2).

"This is a case where the old British ditty comes to mind: "I'm the Parliament's draftsman, I compose the country's laws, And of half the litigation I'm undoubtedly the cause!"", said Justice Nariman in the judgment.

According to the bench, there would be no inconsistency or repugnancy between the proviso and Section 24(1)(b) of the Act, but if the proviso is read as a proviso to Section 24(2), many anomalies arise. It could not possibly have been the unintended result of a proviso taking away lapsing of the acquisition where the subject matter of the proviso is wholly unrelated to physical possession of land but only related to compensation not being paid, said the bench. The following are some other reasons cited by the bench in this regard.

  • A particular land holder's acquisition lapsing cannot be dependent upon a contingency as to whether his land alone is acquired or is acquired in conjunction with other persons' land.
  • Whether compensation in respect of a majority of land holdings has or has not been deposited would have no bearing on whether lapsing does or does not take place under a totally independent provision, namely, Section 24(2).
  • When the language of the proviso makes it clear that it does not refer to the award spoken of in Section 24(2) for two reasons. First, the expression, "an award has been made" in the proviso cannot be equated to "such award has been made". Also, the words "an award" being made "five years or more prior to the commencement of this Act" are conspicuous by their absence in the proviso.

The court further added: "We have already seen that land acquisition is to take place in a humane fashion, with the least disturbance to the owners of the land, as also, to provide just and fair compensation to affected persons. Viewed in the light of the Preamble, this legislation, being a beneficial legislation, must be construed in a way which furthers its purpose"

The bench also noticed that the judgment by a three judge bench in Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra, which had reversed a judgment on this issue, has been referred to five judge bench. Therefore, the bench opined that the judgment in Delhi Metro Rail Corporation shall also be reconsidered by the same bench.

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