The Supreme Court in an appeal filed by the State of Himachal Pradesh ordered compensation to the original owners of the land as per market price which was used by the State for the purpose of construction of a road.

The State had challenged the judgment passed by the High Court by which it refused to condone the delay in preferring the Letters Patent Appeal (LPA) against the order of the Single Judge.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice C.T. Ravikumar observed, “… the original landowners may be awarded the compensation considering the market price as on 17.05.1996, however with all other statutory benefits excluding the interest from 17.05.1996 till the writ petition was filed before the High Court.”

The Bench asserted that if its order is passed in the exercise of the extraordinary jurisdiction under Articles 136 and 142 of the Constitution, the same can be said to be just and proper and doing complete justice between the parties.

Advocate Abhimanyu Jhamba appeared for the State while Advocate Radhika Gautam appeared for the respondents.

Facts -

A land was utilized by the State for the construction of Banuti to Pahal Road as far as back in the year 1996, however, till date, no compensation in view of the same was paid to the respondents. The petition was opposed by the State by filing a reply contending that at the time when the road was constructed through the land of the respondents, it was on their request and on the condition that they will not claim any compensation.

The Single Judge of the High Court allowed the plea of the respondents and directed the appellants to initiate a process for the acquisition of the land. On filing LPA by the State before the Division Bench, the Court refused to condone the delay and dismissed the same on grounds of limitation.

The Supreme Court after hearing the contentions of both counsel said, “… the original writ petitioners – owners of the land used by the State for construction of the road shall be entitled to the compensation for their lands which have been used by the State without acquisition under the Act, 1894.”

The Court while considering the fact that there was a huge delay of 20 years in filing the writ petition before the High Court directed that the original writ petitioners shall be entitled to all the statutory benefits but shall not be entitled to any interest under the from 1996 to the date of filing of the writ petition.

“… present appeal stands disposed of by directing that 17.05.1996 be treated as the deemed date of acquisition under Section 4 of the Act, 1894 and the original owners/writ petitioners shall be entitled to the compensation considering the market price of the land in question used by the State for construction of the road as on 17.05.1996”, directed the Court.

The Court further directed that the entire exercise shall be completed within a period of six months.

Accordingly, the Apex Court disposed of the appeal.

Cause Title- State of Himachal Pradesh & Ors. v. Rajiv and Anr.

Click here to read/download the Judgment