The Supreme Court has recently observed that compulsory acquisition by scrupulous adherence to the procedures authorised by law would not violate right to property.

"…compulsory acquisition by scrupulous adherence to the procedures authorised by law would not violate Article 300-A of the Constitution", the Bench of Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice CT Ravikumar observed.

The Court was dealing with a bunch of cases which pertained to the meaning and interpretation of the word "initiated" employed in Section 24(1) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (2013 Act) with reference to land acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (LA Act).

The L.A. Act was a general law relating to acquisition of land for public purposes and also for companies, and for determination of amount of compensation to be made to the owner/holder of the property concerned upon acquisition. Inadequacy of the provisions in the L.A. Act in addressing various issues such as rehabilitation and resettlement of affected parties of such acquisition led to the enactment of the 2013 Act and the consequent repeal of the L.A. Act.

Advocate B. K. Satija appeared for the petitioners whereas Advocate Ankit Swarup appeared for respodents-Deepak Aggarwal. Advocate Sanjay Kumar Visen appeared for Directorate Town and Country Planning, Haryana.

The contention of Party 'A' was that land acquisition proceedings should be taken as initiated under the L.A. Act when Section 4(1) Notification under the L.A. Act was issued. On the other hand party 'B' who canvass the position against the view that issuance and publication of notice under Section 4(1) is the point of initiation, would contend that land acquisition proceedings could not be held as initiated, for the purpose of Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act, unless Section 6 declaration under the L.A. Act was issued in respect of the land proposed to be acquired before 01.01.2014, the date on which the 2013 Act came into force.

The Court observed thus "A careful scanning of all the decisions cited by both sides would thus reveal that all those decisions hold that land acquisition proceedings under the L.A. Act begin with the publication of a notification under sub-section (1) of Section 4. A declaration under Section 6 of the L.A. Act is one of the steps under the L.A. Act which ultimately culminates into the conclusion of the proceedings by making an Award and taking over possession of the acquired land."

The Court noted that Section 24(1)(a) and clauses therein, in the 2013 Act was incorporated as a balancing provision for controlling the extent of retrospectivity and for curtailing the erosion of rights of land holders.

"Bearing in mind the twin purposes mentioned hereinbefore, we are of the view that they can only be achieved if the word 'initiated' is taken as the point of time when section 4 (1) notification is issued and published under the L.A. Act, in the Official Gazette.", the Court held.

The Court further held that when Clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 24 of the 2013 Act is applicable, the proceedings shall continue as per the L.A. Act. However, only for the determination of compensation amount, the provisions of the 2013 Act shall be applied.

Cause Title- Haryana State Industrial And Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. & Ors. v. Deepak Aggarwal & Ors.

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