A two-judge Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice Sanjiv Khanna has held that while determining the market value or compensation for land acquired, previous instances of acquisition in proximity for location and potential of land acquisition along with cumulative increase is a relevant consideration.
An appeal was preferred by the original landowners assailing the judgment of Allahabad High Court which had partly allowed the appeal of the Original Claimants-Appellants and determined the market value of the land acquired at Rs. 7100/- per acre only.
In this case, Appellant's land was acquired for public purposes. A notification was issued under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 on 16/05/1981.
The Land Acquisition Officer determined the compensation at Rs. 5,218.39/- per acre. The Appellant made a reference to the District Court and sought compensation Rs. 12,000/- per acre. The compensation was enhanced to Rs. 6,696.70/ per acre by the Court.
Before the High Court, the Appellants sought a compensation of Rs. 15,402/ per acre relying upon the judgment and award passed by the Reference Court in another case with respect to the acquisition of the land of the very village, but with respect to the notification issued under Section 4 of the Act dated 19.12.1981. The High Court relied upon and considered the sale deed exemplar dated 23.12.1980 and partly allowed the appeal by enhancing compensation to Rs.7,100/ per acre.
The Appellants contended before the Supreme Court that the Government accepted the judgment and award passed by the Reference Court for the land acquired in the same village but for which notification was issued on 19.12.1981 under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act. Therefore they were also entitled to compensation of Rs. 15,402/- per acre.
While the Respondent argued that the High Court had rightly determined the compensation Rs. 7100/- per acre while considering the sale deed exemplar dated 23.12.1980 which was said to be proximate/nearer to the date of acquisition of land.
The Apex Court after considering the contentions of the parties at length held that it is not the case that in another case the sale deed exemplar relied upon was for the period between 16.05.1981 (acquisition of the land in the present case) and 19.12.1981 (date of acquisition in another case).
"As per the settled preposition of law while determining the market value/compensation, previous instances of acquisition in proximity for location and potential of land acquisition along with cumulative increase is relevant consideration," the Bench observed.
Further, the Bench opined the time gap between two notifications issued under Section 4 is only seven months and nothing was pointed out with respect to any material changes during those seven months.
"The judgment and award passed by the Reference Court in that case determining the market value/compensation at Rs.15,402/ per acre has attained the finality and the State has accepted the same by withdrawing the appeal against the said judgment and award," the Court opined.
The Court held that the Appellant was entitled to the compensation of Rs. 15, 402/- per acre.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and modified the impugned judgment of the High Court and directed that the Appellant shall be entitled to Rs. 15,402/- per acre with all other statutory benefits available under the Land Acquisition Act.