The Kerala High Court observed that simply because there is a delay in using the land for the purpose for which it is acquired, the acquisition proceedings can not be set aside.

In this case, the court held that reconveyance of a property acquired by the postal department 40 years ago for the purpose of construction cannot be allowed even if the construction has not started.

A Single Bench of Justice P.V. Kunhikrishnan observed, “Once the land is acquired for a public purpose and the compensation is paid to the land owner, the land owner has no right to the property. The only restriction on the part of the requisitioning authority is that the land should be used only for public purposes.

Advocate C. Chandrasekharan represented the petitioner, while GP B.S. Syamantak appeared for the respondents.

The property was acquired for the construction of a Post Office and Staff Quarters building. The land owner was dissatisfied with the compensation awarded by the Land Acquisition Officer in the land acquisition proceedings. The land owner applied for enhancement of compensation under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, wherein the compensation was enhanced.

The land owner later prayed before the High Court for the return of the property and in exchange, he was ready to remit the entire compensation and other statutory benefits received by him with interest.

The Court held that the land owner had no right to ask for reconveyance of the property acquired for the purpose of the construction simply because there was delay in constructing the building for which the property was acquired.

The Court relied on Supreme Court’s decision in Nandkishor Babulal Agrawal v. The State Of Maharashtra (Civil Appeal No.7634/2023) where it was established that once the land vests in the State or its authorities, the public purpose of its acquisition can be changed at a later stage.

Considering that the property was not transferred to a private entity, the Court stated: “If a land is acquired for a public purpose and thereafter the property and the land is transferred to private parties or corporate entities for some other purpose, it is a serious lapse in which case the court may be justified in quashing the acquisition proceedings.

The Court did not interfere with the impugned land acquisition proceeding.

Subsequently, the High Court dismissed the writ petition.

Cause Title: Sivaprakashan v. State Of Kerala & Ors. (2024:KER:2605)

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