Read Order: Sardar And Ors v. State of Haryana and Others
Chandigarh, October 21, 2021 : The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently dismissed 26 Appeals, filed under Section 54 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, seeking modification of a common judgment passed by the Reference Court at Palwal and opined that a proper balance has to be drawn guided by the facts of case and to preserve the public interest and the public resources, as a whole.
The Bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal observed that it is the duty of the Court to maintain a proper equilibrium between the interest of the parties and the public interest, in general. If the Courts lean in favour of the landowners, the government or the allottees are likely to be unnecessarily over-burdened and it will result in distributing the public money without limits thereby impacting the public interest, at large whereas if the courts are inclined towards the government, it can result in undermining of just claims.
In order to utilize the land for construction of Earth Electrode Station for 4500 KV, 2500 MW of high voltage double circuit Balia-Bhiwandi Transmission Line, 75 acres 3 kanals and 7 marlas of land located in village Khatela, District Faridabad, now Palwal, was acquired by award No. 3 of 2007.
Later, on the request of the landowners, the cases were forwarded to the Court for determination of the market value of the acquired land. The landowners claimed that the acquired land is located on the National Highway No.2 and is a part of the developed area. The acquired land is surrounded by various big and small industries, schools and educational institutions etc.
They claimed that it is a part of a semi-urban area and therefore, the market value of the land, at the relevant time, was not less than applications by claiming that the Land Acquisition Collector had correctly assessed the market value on the date of notification under Section 4.
The landowners claimed the market value on the basis of a comparable sale exemplar. However, no evidence, with regard to the sale exemplar of a time prior to the date of notification under Section 4 was produced.
The Bench was of the view that the Court is required to assess the market value on the basis of the contemporaneous sale transactions in the area. While assessing the market value, the Court is required to examine the comparable sale deeds in order to determine the price a willing seller is prepared to receive from a willing purchaser.
According to the High Court, this was a safe method to determine the market value. However, unfortunately, no evidence in this regard had been produced. The landowners failed to produce even a single sale instance either of the same village from where the land had been acquired or of the surrounding villages.
The Bench opined that the landowners had failed to produce any sale examplar before the date of notification under Section 4 which was issued on November 23,2005.
The Court also enumerated various parameters that needed to be looked into by stating that while determining the market value of the acquired land, the court is required to examine the existing geographical location of the acquired land apart from its existing and potential use. The Court is also required to examine as to whether the acquired land has proximity to the National Highway or the State Highway Road or any developed area.
The market value of the other land situated in the same locality/area or adjacent to or very near to the acquired land can also be taken into consideration by the Court. While assessing the market value, the Court is required to see as to what would be the price on which a willing seller would sell the land to a willing purchaser. While assessing such compensation, one of the method is to assess the market value by comparable sale method i.e. by referring to contemporaneous transactions.
The Bench went on to add that the acquired land is situated at a distance of 13 Kms. from Palwal and Hodal. However, there was hardly any evidence to prove the market value of that land. The Court is required to assess the market value on the basis of the evidence. In the absence thereof, the Court cannot assess the market value only on the basis of the oral arguments.
Moreover, the sale deed in question was executed after a period of nearly two years from the date of notification under Section 4. In such circumstances, the Court stated that it would not be safe to rely upon the same to assess the market value as on November 23,2005.
Justice Kshetarpal also mentioned that the Reference Court had already granted an increase of ₹50,000 per acre even in the absence of any direct evidence and appellants failed to produce any relevant and clinching oral evidence to corroborate the claim of the landowners.
Thus, the Bench did not find it appropriate to interfere with the assessment made by the Reference Court and dismissed the Appeals.