Read Judgment: M.p. Housing Board & Anr. V. Satish Kumar Batra And Ors.

Pankaj Bajpai

New Delhi, February 11, 2022: While hearing an appeal filed by the M.P. Housing Board, challenging acquisitions made under Land Acquisition Act, the Division Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna of the Supreme Court has opined that once the very acquisition and the notifications issued u/s 4 & 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 are the subject matter of other pending proceedings, then in order to avoid any further conflicting orders, all the appeals with respect to the same acquisition are to be heard together. 

Going by the background of the case, Satish Kumar Batra & Others (Respondents) purchased the land in question from one Gajanand Mali and Nandkishore, the predecessor-in-title. With respect to the land in question a notification u/s 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was issued on July 12, 1994, to which, Gajanand Mali and Nandkishore and other landowners submitted their objections. 

Thereafter, the Land Acquisition Officer rejected the objections. On Letters Patent Appeal being preferred by the Gajanand Mali, the Division Bench of the High Court set aside the order rejecting the objection of Gajanand Mali and remanded the matter back to the Land Acquisition Officer for deciding the objections afresh.

Later, Gajanand Mali and other predecessor-in-title of Satish Kumar & others challenged the notification u/s 4 of the 1894 Act, but in vain. The matter was carried to this Court, wherein Gajanand Mali withdrew the appeals with liberty to prefer the Letters Patent Appeal as in the meantime in view of the change in law, the Letters Patent Appeal were held to be maintainable. The Division Bench held that Satish Kumar was entitled to the same relief, which was granted in favour of Gajanand Mali. Hence, present appeal by M.P. Housing Board & Another.  

After considering the submissions, the Top Court held that the High Court had not at all noted and/or considered that with respect to the very acquisition and the notifications u/s 4 and 6 of 1894 Act dated July 12, 1994 and May 26, 1995 respectively, the appeal filed by the predecessor-in-title of the Respondents i.e., Gajanand Mali was pending before the High Court. 

Without noticing the same, the High Court had allowed the appeal, added the Court. 

Speaking for the Bench, Justice Shah observed that the High Court, instead of deciding the present appeal separately, ought to have ensured that all the appeals with respect to the same acquisition, where the notifications were challenged, were heard together which was not done in the instant case. 

Therefore, without further entering into the merits of the case and without expressing anything on merits in favour of either parties, the Apex Court quashed the order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court and the matter was remanded to be decided in accordance with law and on their own merits.  

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