Mere Non-Payment Of Compensation To Land Owners Cannot Be Deemed Lapse Of Land Acquisition Proceedings - Supreme Court
A two-judge bench comprising Justice M. R. Shah and Justice B. V. Nagarathna has held that mere non-payment of compensation to the landowners cannot be deemed to be a lapse of land acquisition proceedings, particularly so when the amount of compensation was deposited in the Treasury and possession of the land, already taken over.
In this case, the Allahabad High Court had held in the favor of the Respondents (Original Writ Petitioners), that the acquisition proceedings of three plots shall stand lapsed based on subsection (2) of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
The order of the High Court was based on the ground that, though the compensation was deposited in the Treasury, the same not being deposited in the Court led to the payment of compensation amount not being made to the landowners.
Aggrieved by the order of the High Court, the Appellants approached the Apex Court.
Issue – Whether non-payment of compensation to Land Owners amounts to a lapse of land acquisition proceedings?
The Bench observed that –
"The High Court has relied upon the decision of this Court in the case of Delhi Development Authority versus Sukhbir Singh and ors. However, in view of the subsequent decision of this Court in the case of Indore Development Authority versus Manoharlal and ors, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is unsustainable."
In delivering the judgment the Bench relied on the decision in Indore Development Authority versus Manoharlal and ors where it was held that in case of possession being taken yet compensation not being paid or in case of compensation being paid and possession not taken, there occurs no lapse. Further, the term 'paid' in Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not refer to a deposit of compensation in the court.
It was also held by the Court that Section 24(2) is applicable in case authorities fail, due to their inaction to take possession and pay compensation for five years or more before the 2013 Act came into force. Thus, Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not provide for questioning the legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition. Section 24 only applies to a proceeding pending on the date of enforcement of the 2013 Act i.e. 112014. It does not revive any time-barred claims nor allow landowners to question the legality of the mode of taking possession or mode of deposit of compensation in the treasury.
Accordingly, the impugned judgment of the High Court was quashed and set aside and the appeal was allowed.