State Did Not Challenge Reference Court's Order: SC Holds Landowners Entitled To Compensation Determined By Reference Court
The Supreme Court has observed that once the Order passed by the Reference Court determining the compensation attained finality so far as the State is concerned, the landowners shall be entitled to at least such compensation as determined by the Reference Court.
The bench headed by Justice M.R. Shah and Justice C.T. Ravikumar was dealing with an appeal filed by landowners seeking enhanced compensation.
Advocate Dhananjay Garg appeared on behalf of the original landowners i.e., the appellant whereas, Additional Advocate General, Alok Sangwan appeared on behalf of the State.
Facts of the case –
The land situated at two villages in the District of Hisar, Haryana was acquired by the State under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the purpose of development of residential and commercial sectors.
A common notification under Section 4 and a declaration under Section 6 of the 1894 Act were issued in the years 2005 and 2006 respectively. The Land Acquisition Collector declared the award under Section 11 of the 1894 Act in the year 2007 for both villages and assessed the market value of the same.
At the instance of landowners, the references were made to the Reference Court and the Court allowed the petitions and assessed the market value at Rs. 1,000/- per square yard. But, the appellant i.e., the landowners were not satisfied with the amount of compensation and therefore, filed appeals before the High Court asking for the enhancement of the compensation. However, the State had already accepted the common judgment of the Reference Court.
The High Court relying upon the case of Ashrafi and Others v. State of Haryana and Others assessed the market value of the land at Rs. 4,173/- per square yard.
The Supreme Court remitted the matter to the High Court for fresh consideration. The High Court remanded the matter to the Reference Court to examine the market value of the acquired land. The Reference Court, therefore, assessed the market value at Rs. 750/- per square yard.
The High Court restored the award passed by the Land Acquisition Collector dismissing the appeals preferred by the landowners. The amount of market value got reduced to Rs. 166 - Rs. 200/- per square yard.
Therefore, the landowners filed the appeals before the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court held that the appellants are entitled to compensation of at least Rs. 1,000/- per square yard.
The Apex Court observed that "…the State did not challenge the common judgment and order dated 31.05.2014 passed by the Reference Court assessing the market value of the acquired land at Rs. 1000/- per square yard and it was the landowners who preferred appeals before the High Court for enhancement of the amount of compensation."
"...once the judgment and order passed by the Reference Court dated 31.05.2014 determining the compensation at Rs. 1,000/- per square yard attained finality so far as the State is concerned, the landowners shall be entitled to the compensation at least at Rs. 1,000/- per square yard." the Court observed.
Accordingly, the Court held thus "The impugned common judgment and order dated 4.3.2022 restoring the awards passed by the Land Acquisition Collector dated 3.8.2007 is hereby quashed and set aside. It is held that the original landowners/claimants shall be entitled to the compensation considering the market value of the acquired land at Rs. 1,000/- per square yard."
The appeals were allowed to the aforesaid extent.
Cause Title – Radhey Sham v. The State of Haryana and Others