High Court Erred In Awarding Statutory Benefits & Interest For Delayed Period Of 22 Years– SC While Allowing NOIDA's Appeal In Land Acquisition Case
The Supreme Court has recently held in a Land Acquisition case in which the Allahabad High Court provided condonation of a delay of 22 years that the Court has erred in awarding other statutory benefits and interest for the delayed period. Also, it observed that the High Court was justified in condoning the delay.
The two-Judge Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice M.M. Sundresh stated –
"In the present case the delay of 22 years can be said to be a substantial delay. However, as the claimants are held to be entitled the enhanced amount of compensation, in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court can be said to be justified in condoning the delay. However, at the same time, the High Court has erred in awarding other statutory benefits and interest for the delayed period."
Advocate Sourav Roy appeared on behalf of the appellant while Advocate Rameshwar Prasad Goyal represented the respondents.
In this case, the appellant i.e., New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) was aggrieved with the judgment passed by the High Court in the year 2018 by which after condoning the delay of 22 years, the High Court had enhanced the amount of compensation for the lands acquired to Rs.149 per sq. yard. Earlier, a notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was issued in the year 1982 and the Reference Court determined the compensation at Rs. 20/- per sq. yard. in the year 1993. After a period of 22 years, the land owners i.e., the respondents preferred an appeal before the High Court.
The counsel of the appellant submitted that there was a huge delay of 22 years in preferring the appeals by the land owners and that should have not been condoned by the High Court.
The Supreme Court noted –
"To saddle with the liability to pay statutory benefits and interest for the delayed period upon the beneficiary/acquiring body would be a financial burden upon the public body and it may increase the project cost which shall be against the public interests."
The Court further noted that "… while condoning the delay and enhancing the amount of compensation at par with other land owners, the High Court ought not to have saddled the liability upon the appellant to pay statutory benefits and the interest payable under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the delayed period. To the aforesaid extent the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court is required to be modified and the present appeals are required to be partly allowed to the aforesaid extent."
The Court therefore adjudged –
"… the original land owners/claimants shall not be entitled to any statutory benefits including the interest payable under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 on the enhanced amount of compensation for the period between 15.12.1993 till the respective first appeals after curing the defects were filed."
Accordingly, the Court partly allowed the appeals.
Cause Title – New Okhla Industrial Development Authority v. Rameshwar @ Ramesh Chandra Sharma (Dead) through Legal heir & Anr.
Click here to read/download the Judgment