Supreme Court Directs For Payment Of Compensation For Lands Acquired In Villages Kheri Sadh And Baliyana In Haryana
The two-judge bench of Justice M. R. Shah, and Justice B. V. Nagarathna has adjudicated the appeals determining compensation payable to original claimants and landowners in lands acquired in Villages Kheri Sadh and Baliyana in the State of Haryana.
Facts & History of the Case
The decision was delivered in view of the Appeals presented by the landowners/claimants and the State/Acquiring Body concerning lands acquisition and the rate of compensation decided thereon, in villages Kheri Sadh and Baliyana in Rohtak District, Haryana.
The land acquisition at Kheri Sadh Village was carried out under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013 for setting up an Industrial Model Township in two phases. Initially, for the Acquisition of Land in the First Phase, the Land Acquisition Officer declared a compensation of Rs. 16,00,000/- per acre. Owing to a reference made under Section 18 of the Act, the Reference Court later determined the compensation at Rs. 24,00,000/- per acre to the lands up to one acre and at Rs. 19,77,000/-per acre for the remaining lands. On that, the Original claimants/landowners approached the High Court of Punjab & Haryana via appeal, where it was held that the compensation for lands up to one acre would be enhanced to Rs. 28,69,910/- by reducing the cut to 10% from 20% that was originally decided by the Reference Court. The compensation of Rs. 19,77,000/- for the remaining lands, as decided by the Reference Court, was upheld.
The Second Phase of Land Acquisition at Kheri Sadh was carried out after about 1 year and 8 months of the first phase, the High Court determined the compensation at Rs. 30,89,066/- for lands up to one acre and at Rs. 28,08,242/- for the remaining lands with a 12% escalation rate.
The Land Acquistion Officer had originally declared an award of Rs. 16,00,000/- per acre for all types of lands being acquired in the Village of Baliyana. However, upon a reference made under Section 18 of the Act, the Reference Court relying on Splendour Land v. State of Haryana, enhanced the compensation to Rs. 17,00,000/- per acre. The judgment of the Reference Court was challenged by the original claimants/landowners. The High Court dismissed the appeals and confirmed the order passed by the Reference Court.
Dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court, the Appellants have filed an appeal before the Supreme Court.
The original claimants/landowners whose lands were acquired in the First Phase argued that the highest sale exemplar is to be considered for determining the compensation and that as held by this Court in Ashrafi & Others v. State of Haryana and others, (2013), a cut of 33% may be reasonable in determining compensation which the High Court has failed to grant.
The counsel on behalf of the original claimants/landowners whose lands were acquired in the Second Phase argued that the escalation of 12% granted by the High Court is grossly inadequate considering the rapid development and economic activity estimated in the near future.
The counsel representing the original claimants/landowners whose lands were acquired in the village Baliyana argued that on the grounds of parity, Village Baliyana being adjacent to Village Kheri Sadh, the compensation determined for the latter should be made applicable to the former. In this context, it was also argued that the compensation of Rs. 17,00,000/- awarded and consequently upheld by the High Court is inadequate.
The State/Acquiring Body submitted before the Bench that Section 25 of the Act merely debars the Court from awarding a compensation lower than the one awarded by the Collector and as such that the Reference Court and the High Court have failed to take into consideration the sale exemplars produced. In doing so, the Reference Court and the High Court have ignored settled principles of law in Chandrashekar v. Land Acquisition Officer, (2012) where it was held that a cut of 50% - 75% is to be imposed on the acquired land. Further, it was argued that the acquired land being agricultural land, would not be entitled to compensation that is usually determined for commercial land(s).
Regarding the acquired lands in Baliyana, the State argued that the claim being made on the grounds of parity would be unstainable as the location of Village Kheri Sadh is much better than Village Baliyana.
The Apex Court has observed that -
The Reference Court was justified in applying a 20% & 38% cut to lands up to one acre and beyond one acre respectively, for lands acquired in the Kheri Sadh, in the First Phase.
Relying on Lal Chand v. Union of India, (2009) where it was held that in order to determine the market value of large, undeveloped agricultural land, a cut of about 20% to 75% can be made, the Bench held that the High Court committed a grave error in applying a 10% cut instead of 20% as was decided by the Reference Court.
The original claimants/ landowners of Baliyana Village relied on Splendour Land v. State of Haryana, wherein the compensation was enhanced by the Reference Court cannot be applicable here as that matter involved land in the Village Kheri Sadh and not Baliyana. "Therefore, the original claimants/landowners of village Baliyana cannot claim the same compensation which is awarded to the claimants of village Kheri Sadh (first phase)"
In view of the above, the Supreme Court issued the following directions –
The original claimants/landowners whose lands were acquired in the First Phase would be entitled to the compensation as determined by the Reference Court of Rs. 24,00,000/- for land up to one acre and Rs. 19,77,000/- per acre for the land beyond one acre.
The original claimants/landowners whose lands were acquired in the Second Phase would be entitled to a compensation of Rs. 28,80,000/- per acre, up to one acre, and a compensation of Rs. 23,72,400/- beyond one acre.
As rightly determined by the High Court, the compensation for lands acquired at Baliyana Village shall be Rs. 17,00,000/- per acre for all types of land.