While considering dismissal of a claim petition seeking reconveyance of lands under Section 48(B) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 on the ground that the lands in question has not been utilized for the purpose for which it has been acquired, the Madras High Court held that since the entire land acquisition proceedings got concluded way back in the year 1990 itself and the lands were utilized for the purpose for which they were acquired, the appellant cannot challenge the same.

The Division Bench of Justice D. Krishnakumar and Justice P.B Balaji observed that “the possession of lands in question has been taken over by the respondent Board as early as on 28.07.1999 and the respondents Board has satisfied one of the twin conditions. Therefore, in the light of the decision Indore Development Authority case, the claim of the appellants by invoking Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013 is legally unsustainable”.

Advocate P. Subba Reddy appeared for the Appellant, whereas Advocate U.M. Ravichandran appeared for the Respondent.

The brief facts of the case were that appellants are the joint owners of the property. The first Respondent initiated acquisition proceedings for the purpose of construction of houses by the Tamil Nadu Housing Board under the neighborhood scheme in respect of the properties belonging to the petitioner and other adjacent properties. Later, Section 4(1) Notification under Act, 1894 Act was issued and vide G.O.Ms.No.1058, Housing and Urban Department issued declaration and award came to be passed. Thereafter, Possession Certificate was issued handing over the subject lands to Surveyor, Salem housing Unit of Tamil Nadu Housing Board. Although landowners filed several petitions challenging the land acquisition proceedings, the petition ended in favour of the respondent Board. The Appellants claimed that the lands were not utilized for the purpose for which they were acquired and therefore, prayed for reconveyance of the lands under Section 48-B of the Act, 1894. The Writ Court took into consideration the fact that the proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 is completed and possession of the property is admittedly with the Tamil Nadu Housing Board.

After considering the submission, the Bench found that the acquisition proceedings commenced in the year 1978 by issuance of Section 4(1) Notification on July 06, 1978, Section 6 Declaration on June 03, 1980 and award came to be passed in two phases.

The Bench also found that though several petitions were filed by various land owners at various points of time challenging the land acquisition proceedings, all those petitions ended in favour of the respondents /Tamil Nadu Housing Board.

Referring to the Apex Court decision in Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal and Others [(2020) 8 SCC 129], the Bench observed that if any of the conditions has been satisfied by the respondent Board i.e., taking over possession or compensation amount has been paid, the appellants cannot invoke Section 24(2) of the Fair Compensation Act, 2013.

In the case on hand, the respondents Board has produced the Possession Certificate in their typed set of documents in ROC.No.3/87 dated 28.07.1999, issued by the Special Tahsildar (LA), Neighborhood Scheme, Salem-8, in and by which possession of the lands in T.S.Nos.1/4, 2/10, 2/13 totaling an extent of 0.96 acres has been taken over, vide Award No.1/90-91 dated 31.08.90 and handed over to Mr. I.P. Chidambaram, Surveyor, Salem Housing Unit of Tamil Nadu Housing Board, who has signed in the said document”, added the Bench.

Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the petition.

Cause Title: T. Kalarani and Ors. v. State of Tamil Nadu and Ors.

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