The Allahabad High Court has told the Central Government to clarify the legal position regarding the provisions of rehabilitation and resettlement under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 (LA Act).

The Court was deciding a writ petition preferred by 13 persons against the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI).

A Division Bench comprising Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta and Justice Kshitij Shailendra said, “Before parting, we may note that large number of cases are coming up before this Court everyday complaining that rehabilitation and resettlement awards are not being made by the Competent Authority where acquisition is under the provisions of the NH Act. As the judgment of Division Bench of this Court in Ranvir Singh (supra) is not under challenge on merits, it is desirable that Central Government clarifies the legal position by issuing a circular so as to obviate filing of separate petitions by affected persons for direction to pass such an award.”

Advocate Manoj Kumar Dhuriya appeared for the petitioners while Advocate Pranjal Mehrotra appeared for the respondents.

In this case, the petition was filed praying for a direction to the Collector, Muzaffar Nagar to pass an award under the provisions of Section 31 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The land of the petitioners was acquired under the provisions of the National Highways Act, 1956 (NH Act).

The competent authority passed an award in 2019. The NH Act is duly specified in the fourth schedule of the LA Act. It has been held by the High Court in Writ-C No. 21601 of 2022, Ranvir Singh and 35 others and connected matters, decided in 2023 that the beneficial provisions of the Act, 2013 including the provisions relating to rehabilitation and resettlement would also apply to acquisitions made under the NH Act.

The High Court in the above context observed, “We notice that in Ranvir Singh (supra), the issue was whether the provisions of rehabilitation and resettlement under the Act, 2013 would apply to the acquisitions made under the NH Act or not. The ratio of the judgment in Ranvir Singh (supra) is binding on this Court and not the directions issued in the operative part of the said order as the same is not the ratio decidendi of the said case. Therefore, we have no hesitation in issuing direction in the instant case to the competent authority as defined in Section 3(a) of the NH Act to examine the claim relating to rehabilitation and resettlement and declare award accordingly.”

The Court, therefore, directed the competent authority to proceed with the exercise of examining the claims pertaining to rehabilitation and resettlement and declare award on the said aspect having regard to the provisions of Chapter V of the Act, 2013 within twelve weeks.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the petition.

Cause Title- Rampal Singh And 12 Others v. National Highway Authority of India And 2 Others (Neutral Citation: 2024:AHC:72392-DB)

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