Period Of Operation Of Interim Order To Be Excluded In Computation Of Five Years Period For Land Acquisition - SC Reiterates
A two-judge Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna has held that "in view of the subsequent decision of this court in the case of Indore Development Authority (supra paragraph 366.8), the period, during which the interim order is/was operative, has to be excluded in the computation of five years' period."
The Court held that it cannot be said that land acquisition proceedings are deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Senior Advocate Ms. Pinky Anand appeared for the Original Writ Petitioners before the Supreme Court.
In appeal, was the judgment of the Delhi High Court, that had allowed the writ petitions preferred by the private respondents before the Apex Court and declared that acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 in respect of subject lands are deemed to have lapsed under Section24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. Hence, the DDA and NCT of Delhi preferred the appeals before th Apex Court.
The writ petitioners placed reliance on the judgment rendered in Pune Municipal Corporation and Anr. Vs. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki and Ors, (2014) 3 SCC 183 to argue that as the possession of the land was with them and no compensation had been paid, the land acquisition proceedings were deemed to have lapsed.
The appellants relied on the judgment in Indore Development Authority Vs. Manoharlal and Ors., (2020) 8 SCC 129.
The Court noted that the decision in Pune Municipal Corporation has been subsequently overruled by the decision in Indore Development Authority.
The Court made the following crucial observations:
"The High Court while passing the impugned judgment and order has observed that the possession of the land in question continued with the original writ petitioners and that the compensation was neither paid nor even tendered to the original writ petitioners. However, by holding that the original writ petitioners have continued to remain in possession, the High Court has relied upon the earlier order dated 09.11.2011 passed in writ petition No.7714/2011, by which the High Court directed the authority to consider their application under section 48 of the Act, 1894 on merits. However, it was the specific case on behalf of the authority before the learned Single Judge that the possession of the land in question was already taken over on 23.09.1986 and even the compensation amount of Rs.2.00 crores was deposited with the land and building department."
The Court held that considering the decision in Indore Development Authority, it cannot be said that the land acquisition proceedings are deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act.
On the issue of writ petitioners being in possession, the Court made the following observations:
"It is the case on behalf of the original writ petitioners that a purported letter dated 23.09.1986 allegedly taking symbolic possession was never disclosed by appellants in the proceedings conducted before the High Court on two separate occasions and the same has been filed for the first time in the present proceedings. The aforesaid is not correct. Even in the impugned order itself in paragraph 2, the High Court has noted the submissions on behalf of the appellants to the effect that the possession was taken over on 23.09.1986. Therefore, it cannot be said such a plea is taken for the first time before this Court. It is the case on behalf of the original writ petitioners, relying upon the earlier order passed by the High Court dated 09.11.2011 in writ petition No.7714/2011 that, the original writ petitioners continue to be in possession and the actual possession has never been taken over. However, it is required to be noted that even in the order dated 09.11.2011, there was no specific finding given by the High Court that the original writ petitioners are in possession of the land in question. On the contrary, it is observed that the authority to consider the application under section 48 of the Act, 1894 on merits on the assumption of the possession being with the original writ petitioners. Therefore, while passing the order dated 09.11.2011 also, the High Court assumed the original writ petitioners are in possession hence as such no specific finding was given to the effect that the original writ petitioners are in possession."
The Court noted that the impugned judgment was unsustainable.
The impugned order was quashed and set aside. The appeals were accordingly allowed.