Encroachers Of Land Cannot Challenge Its Acquisition U/s. 24(2) Of Land Acquisition Act, 2013- Supreme Court
The Supreme Court has held that encroachers could not be permitted to take benefit of the provisions of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013 (the Act) and challenge the acquisition of land because if they were permitted to take the benefit it would be promoting illegality, which could not be the intention of the legislature.
The Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat observed that “As the possession was taken over by the acquiring body and was handed over to the beneficiary, any possession by the petitioners thereafter can be said to be encroachment and the encroachers cannot be permitted to take the benefit of the provisions of Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013 and pray that as now they are in possession, may be as encroachers, they are entitled to relief under Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013. It would be giving a premium to the illegality and the encroachers which cannot be the intention of the legislature.”
In this case, the appeal had been preferred against the impugned judgment of the Punjab and Haryana High Court wherein the Court had allowed the writ petition and had declared that the acquisition with respect to the land in question had deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013.
It was contended by the respondents-original petitioners, before the High Court that the compensation with respect to the land in question had not been paid to them and even the possession of the lands in question was with them and therefore, in view of Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013 the acquisition with respect to the land in question was deemed to have lapsed as neither the possession had been taken over nor the compensation for the acquired land had been paid.
Advocate Monika Gusain appearing for the appellants submitted that the respondents being subsequent purchasers had no locus to challenge the acquisition proceedings more particularly to pray for lapse of the acquisition proceedings
The Apex Court observed that the High Court had failed to consider the fact that the respondent-original petitioners were encroachers in the acquired land and compensation of the acquired land was not paid to them because they were not co-owners at the time of the award.
The Apex Court further observed that the respondents had no locus to challenge the acquisition or lapsing of acquisition and placed reliance on the decision of Apex Court in the case of Delhi Administration Through Secretary, Land and Building vs. Pawan Kumar & Ors., Civil Appeal No.3646 of 2022 and said that “the writ petition at the instance of the private respondents herein – original writ petitioners being subsequent purchasers ought not to have been entertained by the High Court challenging the acquisition proceedings and/or praying for lapse of the acquisition under Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013."
Therefore, the Apex Court held that the impugned judgment passed by the High Court was unsustainable.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.
Cause Title- The State of Haryana & Ors. v. Sushila & Ors.