Last week, a three judge bench of the Supreme Court pronounced the first ever judgment on the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013.
This judgement which clarifies and pronounces upon the operation and interpretation of Section 24- the retrospective clause- is of great significance. This is not just because it is the very first pronouncement by the Apex Court on the subject but also for its implications vis-à-vis those affected families who are seeking justice against arbitrary acquisitions that have been carried out over the last decade.
The Minister for Rural Development welcomed the judgment saying “the learned bench has aptly given expression to the very intention with which Parliament passed this law. It also settles the contentious issue of the retrospective clause once and for all while providing clarity on the way forward. I am certain many displaced families will benefit as a result of this solid precedent,”
The Judgment is significant as it interprets and construes the retrospective clause in a harmonious manner and in the interests of those aggrieved by arbitrary acquisition mechanisms. It does not resort to artificial limitations to deprive the applicants of the intended benefit.
In other words, it does not subtract the period of litigation from the total amount of time that has lapsed nor does it allow the Government to claim satisfaction by simply depositing the money in the treasury.
By implementing it and placing reliance on it, the Bench has tacitly approved the validity of the clause itself, which was the subject of enormous debate prior to the passage of the law.