J. Venkatesan

Dismisses a batch of over 100 petitions from Delhi landowners challenging the acquisition of their land

NEW DELHI: Bringing to an end a 30-year-old litigation, the Supreme Court has upheld a Delhi Government notification acquiring more than 50,000 bighas of land in 13 villages falling within Delhi for the purpose of planned development.

A Bench of Justice V. S. Sirpurkar and Justice Deepak Verma dismissed a batch of over 100 petitions from landowners challenging the acquisition of their land.

The Bench said, “We find no ground to grant the same reliefs to those appellants to whom on earlier occasions same relief was granted. It would certainly not extend the benefit to those who had not approached the Court or who might have gone into slumber.”

Writing the judgment, Justice Verma said, “It is not mandatory for the authorities to issue one such declaration for whole of the areas acquired within three years from the date of issue of notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act. No doubt it is true that language of Section 6 of the Act implies that declarations can be issued piecemeal and it is not necessary to issue one single declaration.”

The Bench observed, “Parliament was aware of such type of situation and that is why such a right has been carved out in favour of the State. In many cases, urgency clause may be invoked; therefore, the right of filing objections under Section 5A of the Act would not arise. In some cases, even though objections might be preferred under Section 5A of the Act, but may not be pressed in spite of knowledge of acquisition of land. Some landowners may not prefer to file any objections at all.In order to meet such exigencies as may arise in the case, power has been given by Parliament to the Executive to issue declarations in piecemeal under Section 6, wherever it may be feasible to implement the scheme.”

“Eclipse period”

The Bench pointed out that in the case of the appellants, the acquisitions proceedings were initiated in 1980 but they chose to approach the Court only after the earlier petitioners had been given relief.

“We have gone through the said orders critically and find that if the appellants were under some bona fide mistake and had not challenged the issuance of notifications or declaration under Section 6 of the Act within a reasonable time, then on the ground that there was an eclipse period during which they were not supposed to take any legal action, would be of no help to them. For that they have to thank their own stars,” it added.

The Bench said the appellants should have been more careful, cautious and vigilant to get the matters listed along with those 73 petitions which were ultimately allowed by the High Court. “Obviously the appellants cannot be rewarded on account of their own lapse as they should have been vigilant enough to get their matters also listed along with those in whose favour ultimately the judgement was pronounced. Not having done so, the appellants have obviously to suffer the consequence,” it added.