The Supreme Court has reiterated that the acquisition of land could not lapse if the ingredients of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013 (2013 Act) were not fulfilled.

The Bench of Justice Abhay S. Oka and Justice Rajesh Bindal observed that “the present appeal deserves to be allowed as the ingredients of Section 24(2) of 2013 Act as interpreted by this Court in Indore Development Authority vs. Manoharlal and Others (2020) 8 SCC 129 are not satisfied in the case in hand. There cannot be lapsing of acquisition of land.”

Advocate Sujeeta Srivastava appeared for the appellant and Advocate Ashwani Kumar appeared for the respondent.

In this case, Writ Petition was preferred by the respondent in the year 2015 under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act and had claimed that the possession of land having not been taken and the compensation not paid, the acquisition had lapsed.

The Delhi High Court allowed the writ petition and held that the acquisition in question had lapsed as the compensation was not paid. But the issue of entitlement of compensation was kept open as the title of the land was disputed. Aggrieved by the order, the appellants approached the Apex Court.

The Apex Court noted that the father-in-law of the writ petitioner was the recorded owner of the land, and he had the bhoomidari rights. The husband of the respondent had also expired before the writ petition was filed, and no surviving membership was placed on record. The only argument pressed by the respondent was that the compensation be paid as per the provisions of the 2013 Act.

Further, it was also noted that the High Court, while allowing the writ petition, had relied upon the decision of Apex Court in the case Pune Municipal Corporation & Anr. vs. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki & Ors. (2014) 3 SCC 183 to hold that the acquisition in question had lapsed. The case was overruled by the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court in the Indore Development Authority vs. Manoharlal and Others (2020) 8 SCC 129. It was also noted that there was dispute about title of the property, which was kept open and the possession of the property was with the appellant.

“Meaning thereby, even the compensation could not have been paid to the predecessor interest of the respondent/ writ petitioner. There is nothing on record to suggest as to what action was taken by the person who claimed interest in the property to seek compensation, in case land owned by him was acquired more than two decades back and no compensation paid. The litigation started only with enactment of Act of 2013.” the Apex Court said.

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed and the Delhi High Court order was set aside.

Cause Title- Delhi Development Authority v. Batti & Ors.

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