New Delhi, March 28, 2022: Finding that there has been a trend of land owners filing fresh cases seeking lapse of acquisition on the basis of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, although such land owners may have earlier unsuccessfully filed writ petitions challenging the acquisition notifications, the Supreme Court has ruled that the landowners who had the benefit of interim orders granted in their favour in proceedings initiated by them against the acquisition could not later take benefit under such provision.
Applying the law laid down by this Court in Indore Development Authority Vs. Manoharlal & Ors., (2020) 8 SCC 129to the facts of the present case, a Division Bench of Justice M.R Shah and Justice B.V Nagarathna observed that the view taken by the High Court while declaring the acquisition proceedings had lapsed u/s 24(2) of the Act, 2013, was unsustainable
The observation came pursuant to an appeal by the Agricultural Produce Marketing Committee, Bangalore (APMC – Appellant) challenging the judgment, whereby the High Court had answered in favour of original land owners (private respondents) and declared that the acquisitions of the lands in question had lapsed u/s 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
After considering the submissions, the Apex Court found that despite the fact that a number of issues/grounds were raised before the High Court on the legality and validity of the acquisition proceedings, the Single Judge decided only one issue, namely, whether the acquisition proceedings have lapsed by virtue of the 2013 Act.
Whereas a number of issues/grounds were raised and as such the original reliefs sought (acquisition proceedings under Act 1894) were the main reliefs which were required to be dealt with and considered, unfortunately, the Single Judge did not give findings on the other issues/grounds and on the reliefs sought, added the Court.
Speaking for the Bench, Justice Shah observed that when a number of submissions were made on the other issues/grounds, then the High Court ought to have considered the other issues and ought to have given the findings on other issues also.
Because of not deciding the other issues and deciding the matter only on one issue and thereafter when the decision on such one issue, is held to be bad in law, this Court has no other alternative but to remand the matters to the Single Judge for deciding the Writ Petitions afresh on all other issues, added the Bench.
Justice Shah noted that so far as the common judgment and order passed by the High Court declaring that the acquisition proceedings have lapsed u/s 24(2) of the Act, 2013, is concerned, the same is unsustainable in view of the decision of the Constitution bench of this Court in the case of Indore Development Authority (Supra) wherein it was concluded that “deemed lapse of land acquisition proceedings under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act takes place where due to inaction of authorities for five years or more prior to commencement of the said Act, the possession of land has not been taken nor compensation has been paid”. Therefore, observing that though a number of other issues were raised on the legality of the acquisition proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and though other points for consideration were raised/framed by the High Court, since none of the issues are adjudicated by the High Court on merits, the Apex Court remanded the matter to the Single Judge for deciding the writ petitions afresh and to adjudicate on all the other issues, other than the lapse of acquisitions u/s 24(2) of the Act, 2013.