The Supreme Court on Friday reaffirmed its February 2018 ruling on Section 24 on land acquisition compensation awards, given by a three-judge bench, led by Justice Arun Mishra, in the Indore Development Authority case.
A Constitution Bench, also led by Justice Arun Mishra, has overruled an earlier co-ordinate Bench ruling in the Pune Municipal Corporation case of 2014 under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013. The five-judge Bench was interpreting Section 24 (2) which concerns land acquisition compensation awards made five years “prior or more” to the coming of existence of the 2013 Act, which replaced the 1894 law. The new Act, which came into existence on January 1, 2014 replaced the colonial 1894 law.
The provision said that in such cases, if the physical possession has not been taken “or” the compensation is not paid, the acquisition proceeding is “deemed to have lapsed”. The government, if it so wishes, would have to initiate “fresh acquisition proceedings” under the new Act of 2013, which provides for “fair compensation”.
The 319-page judgment authored by Justice Mishra, however, said compensation would be considered paid if the amount is put in the Treasury. There was no obligation that the amount should be deposited in the court in order to sustain the land acquisition proceedings under the 2013 Act.
Further, the court held that a land acquisition proceeding under Section 24(2) would only lapse if the authorities have neither taken physical possession nor paid the compensation due to the landowner for five or more years prior to January 1, 2014. For this, an “or” in the Section was “interpreted” as an “and”.
Thus, there is no lapse if possession has been taken and compensation has not been paid. Similarly, there is no lapse if compensation has been paid and possession not taken of the land.
Further, the Bench held that Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 does not give rise to a new cause of action to question the legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition.