AGRA DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, AGRA Vs. ANEK SINGH
LAWS(SC)-2022-5-90
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on May 20,2022

Agra Development Authority, Agra Appellant
VERSUS
Anek Singh Respondents




JUDGEMENT

M.R.SHAH,J. - (1.)Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad in Civil Miscellaneous Writ Petition No.13927 of 2016 by which the High Court has allowed the said writ petition preferred by the respondents herein original writ petitioners and has held that the acquisition proceedings with respect to the land in question shall be deemed to have lapsed under Sub-­sec. (2) of Sec. 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Act 2013'), the Agra Development Authority, Agra has preferred the present appeal.
(2.)We have heard learned counsel for the respective parties. We have perused and considered the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court.
(3.)Before the High Court it was the specific case on behalf of the Agra Development Authority - appellant herein that as such the possession of the land in question was already taken over and even the name of the Authority was mutated in the revenue records. It was also the specific case on behalf of the Authority that possession of the land in question was with them but the original writ petitioners illegally occupied it again. It was also the case on behalf of the Authority that the development works have already been carried out on the land in question and the entire compensation had already been deposited with the Special Land Acquisition Officer. It was also the case on behalf of the Authority that the original writ petitioners deliberately did not take the compensation for the remaining plot measuring 6 Biswa and 15 Biswansi and therefore, on account of the fault of the writ petitioners, the acquisition proceedings cannot lapse. However, by the impugned judgment and order the High Court has held and declared that the acquisition proceedings with respect to the land in question shall be deemed to have lapsed under subsec. (2) of Sec. 24 of the Act, 2013 on the ground that the amount of compensation was not actually paid to the land owners. While holding so the High Court has relied upon and considered the decision of this Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation and another versus Harakchand Misirimal Solanki and others reported in (2014) 3 SCC 183.
3.1 Thus, while passing the impugned judgment and order the High Court has solely relied upon the decision of this Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation (supra) and other decisions in which the decision in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation (supra) was followed. (Para 12 of the impugned judgment and order) However, the decision of this Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation (supra) has been subsequently overruled by the Constitution Bench of this Court in the case of Indore Development Authority versus Manoharlal and others, 2020) 8 SCC 129. In paragraph 366 it is observed and held as under:

"366. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we answer the questions as under:

366.1. Under the provisions of Sec. 24(1)(a) in case the award is not made as on 1-­1-­2014, the date of commencement of the 2013 Act, there is no lapse of proceedings. Compensation has to be determined under the provisions of the 2013 Act.

366.2. In case the award has been passed within the window period of five years excluding the period covered by an interim order of the court, then proceedings shall continue as provided under Sec. 24(1)(b) of the 2013 Act under the 1894 Act as if it has not been repealed.

366.3. The word "or" used in Sec. 24(2) between possession and compensation has to be read as "nor" or as "and". The deemed lapse of land acquisition proceedings under Sec. 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. In other words, in case possession has been taken, compensation has not been paid then there is no lapse. Similarly, if compensation has been paid, possession has not been taken then there is no lapse.

366.4. The expression "paid" in the main part of Sec. 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not include a deposit of compensation in court. The consequence of nondeposit is provided in the proviso to Sec. 24(2) in case it has not been deposited with respect to majority of landholdings then all beneficiaries (landowners) as on the date of notification for land acquisition under Sec. 4 of the 1894 Act shall be entitled to compensation in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 Act. In case the obligation under Sec. 31 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 has not been fulfilled, interest under Sec. 34 of the said Act can be granted. Non-­deposit of compensation (in court) does not result in the lapse of land acquisition proceedings. In case of non-­deposit with respect to the majority of holdings for five years or more, compensation under the 2013 Act has to be paid to the "landowners" as on the date of notification for land acquisition under Sec. 4 of the 1894 Act.

366.5. In case a person has been tendered the compensation as provided under Sec. 31(1) of the 1894 Act, it is not open to him to claim that acquisition has lapsed under Sec. 24(2) due to non-­payment or non-­deposit of compensation in court. The obligation to pay is complete by tendering the amount under Sec. 31(1). The landowners who had refused to accept compensation or who sought reference for higher compensation, cannot claim that the acquisition proceedings had lapsed under Sec. 24(2) of the 2013 Act.

366.6. The proviso to Sec. 24(2) of the 2013 Act is to be treated as part of Sec. 24(2), not part of Sec. 24(1)(b).

366.7. The mode of taking possession under the 1894 Act and as contemplated under Sec. 24(2) is by drawing of inquest report/memorandum. Once award has been passed on taking possession under Sec. 16 of the 1894 Act, the land vests in State there is no divesting provided under Sec. 24(2) of the 2013 Act, as once possession has been taken there is no lapse under Sec. 24(2).

366.9. Sec. 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not give rise to new cause of action to question the legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition. Sec. 24 applies to a proceeding pending on the date of enforcement of the 2013 Act i.e. 1-­1-­2014. It does not revive stale and time-­barred claims and does not reopen concluded proceedings nor allow landowners to question the legality of mode of taking possession to reopen proceedings or mode of deposit of compensation in the treasury instead of court to invalidate acquisition.

366.8. The provisions of Sec. 24(2) providing for a deemed lapse of proceedings are applicable in case authorities have failed due to their inaction to take possession and pay compensation for five years or more before the 2013 Act came into force, in a proceeding for land acquisition pending with the authority concerned as on 1-­1-­2014. The period of subsistence of interim orders passed by court has to be excluded in the computation of five years."

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