In a relief to the land owners who are yet to get compensation for their lands acquired 40 years ago, the Supreme Court directed the authorities to pay compensation within two months.
In this case, the land was acquired for the purpose of extension of the Nehru Zoological Park in 1981. Despite taking possession, award was not passed and no amount of compensation was paid which made the land owners approach the High Court of Andhra Pradesh in 1996. The High Court directed the authority to pass an award within a period of three months. Following this, an award was passed in 1997 and a meagre compensation @ Rs. 6 per sq. yard was awarded to the land owners. Later, the Reference Court enhanced the compensation to Rs. 250 per sq. yard with solatium and interest. Thereafter, in the year 2017, appeal filed by the Revenue Department was allowed by High Court reducing the compensation to Rs. 100 /- per sq. yard.
In appeal filed by the land owners, the Apex Court bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and JK Maheshwari noted that the land acquired is near to the Agricultural University, National Police Academy and High Court of Andhra Pradesh. Disagreing with the High Court approach, the bench said:
"Taking note of the date of acquisition i.e. 1981 which is about 40 years ago, the value of the said land cannot be computed at the rate less than Rs. 250/ per sq. yard which is supported by the evidence brought on record by the land owners."
The bench added that the High Court committed an error in computing the compensation @ Rs. 100 per sq. yard ignoring the unrebutted documents produced by the land owners and without any cogent material on record, by applying reverse calculation. "The evidence as produced by the land owners has not been rebutted by filing any document. On the contrary, the departmental witness has admitted before the Reference Court that the acquired land of the village is a prominent area within the vicinity of the city of Hyderabad.", the bench noted.
Regarding the contention raised by the Revenue Department on the point of deduction of development charge and the area of the land used for development, the court observed:
"The land acquired is now in the heart of city of Hyderabad where the cost of the land has been increased more than 100 times. The development of the city has already taken place. The land owners, whose land has been utilized 40 years back, now cannot be compelled to pay the development charge for the development which has already taken place, only for a parcel of land to which they have not given compensation up to decades. Therefore, the plea taken by the Revenue Department sans merit"
For the parties: M/S. Venkat Palwai Law Associates, AOR Mr. Yelamanchili Shiva Santosh Kumar, Adv. Mr. Rudrajit Ghosh, Adv. Mr. Tarun Gupta, AOR Mr. Abhishek Sharma, Adv. Mr. Venkateswara Rao Anumolu, AOR
Land Acquisition Act, 1894 - Land acquired in 1981 but compensation not yet paid - Authorities directed payment of compensation within two months - The value of the said land cannot be computed at the rate less than Rs. 250/ per sq. yard which is supported by the evidence brought on record by the land owners.