The Supreme Court in a land acquisition case has increased the market value for the acquired lands on account that the belting of area for valuation would be incorrect.

The Court was dealing with a batch of civil appeals preferred by the landowners against the judgment passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court claiming enhanced compensation.

The two-Judge Bench comprising Justice B.R. Gavai and Justice S.V.N. Bhatti held, “The subject lands are acquired under one notification and the plan brought on record evidences the location and proximity to development in and around the acquired land. The belting of area for valuation would be incorrect. We reject the argument of the State. Since we have not applied incremental value on the exemplar, we deem it just to determine uniform market value to the lands under acquisition.”

The Bench determined the market value at Rs. 1,49,14,975/- per acre for the acquired lands with standard statutory benefits.

Senior Advocate Kiran Suri and Advocates Kaveeta Wadia and Shashank Tripathi represented the appellants while Senior AAG Alok Sangwan and Advocate Sumit Kumar Sharma represented the respondents.

Brief Facts -

The appellants/landowners were covered by Section 4(1) Notification issued under the Land Acquisition Act, 1893. The State of Haryana, through the District Collector issued Sec. 4(1) Notification under the said Act, proposing to acquire land for establishing and developing an integrated industrial complex and other public utilities in a village of District Rewari. The Industrial Complex was administered by the Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation (HSIDC).

The Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) via an award determined the compensation payable to the landowners and according to the appellants, LAO did not determine the market value/compensation in compliance with Sections 23 and 24 of the aforesaid Act. Thereafter, the Reference Court enhanced the compensation from Rs. 66,00,000/- to Rs. 67,12,050/- per acre and the appellants being aggrieved by the deduction of 60 per cent from exemplar approached the High Court which determined the market value for the lands at Rs. 1,21,33,320/-. Hence, the appellants being dissatisfied with the determination of market value were before the Apex Court.

The Supreme Court in view of the above facts said, “The land under acquisition cannot be completely treated as agricultural land, and at the same time, the land cannot also be treated as forming part of a developed or approved layout. The land has been in the hands of the landowners for industrial use, and therefore, the applicable deduction to the cases on hand could be 33 per cent.”

The Court noted that the incremental value of land from admitted or proved exemplars till the acquisition is evident.

“We are convinced that the land values in Malpura Village as evidenced in Ex. P-Y dt. 15.02.2010 are increasing. … The acquired lands are not shown or established as agricultural land. Admittedly, substantial portions of the land under acquisition is abutting the National Highway No. 8. The area, even by the date of acquisition, is developed with industries in the proximity and has good potential for industrial use. CLU certificate discharges the initial burden of establishing that the land under acquisition is not agricultural land”, observed the Court.

The Court, therefore, applied the standard deduction 1/3 on exemplar value and was not persuaded to factor incremental increase on the exemplar.

Accordingly, the Apex Court partly allowed the appeals and increased the market value of the lands in dispute.

Cause Title- BESCO Limited v. State of Haryana & Others (Neutral Citation: 2023 INSC 759)

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