GIRISH CHHABRA Vs. LT. GOVERNOR OF DELHI
LAWS(DLH)-2014-9-318
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
Decided on September 12,2014

Girish Chhabra Appellant
VERSUS
LT. GOVERNOR OF DELHI Respondents




JUDGEMENT

Badar Durrez Ahmed, J. - (1.)IN this writ petition, the following prayers have been made: -
"(a) Writ of Certiorari or any other appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature thereof, quashing, Declaration u/s. 6 bearing No. F.11(2) /88/LandB/LA of the said Act dated 08.09.1989, the Award bearing No. 5/91 -92 and in consequence thereof quashing Notification No. F.11(7) /88 -LandH/LA dated 23.06.1989 u/s. 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894;

(b) Writ of Mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order or direction in the nature thereof, thereby directing the Respondents to denotify the lands of the petitioner bearing Khasra Nos. 60/22/1 (17 biswas) and 60/22/2 (4 biswas) in Village Shahbad Daulatpur, Delhi;

(c) Award appropriate costs in the facts and circumstances of the case;

(d) Any other or further order or direction which this Hon'ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case be passed / issued in favour of the petitioner."

(2.)THE Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as 'the 2013 Act') came into effect on 01.01.2014. Section 24 of the 2013 Act reads as under: -
"24. Land acquisition process under Act No. 1 of 1894 shall be deemed to have lapsed in certain cases. - (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, in any case of land acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894) , -

(a) where no award under section 11 of the said Land Acquisition Act has been made, then, all provisions of this Act relating to the determination of compensation shall apply; or

(b) where an award under said section 11 has been made, then such proceedings shall continue under the provisions of the said Land Acquisition Act, as if the said Act has not been repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub -section (1) , in case of land acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894) , where an award under the said section 11 has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of this Act but the physical possession of the land has not been taken or the compensation has not been paid the said proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed and the appropriate Government, if it so chooses, shall initiate the proceedings of such land acquisition afresh in accordance with the provisions of this Act:

Provided that where an award has been made and compensation in respect of a majority of land holdings has not been deposited in the account of the beneficiaries, then, all beneficiaries specified in the notification for acquisition under section 4 of the said Land Acquisition Act, shall be entitled to compensation in accordance with the provisions of this Act."

It is claimed by the petitioner and accepted by the respondents that though physical possession has been taken of the subject land, compensation has not been paid. The award in respect of the subject land was made on 06.09.1991, that is, more than five years prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act. A declaration is sought that the acquisition in respect of the subject land has lapsed by virtue of the provisions of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act. The petitioner places reliance on the following Supreme Court decisions: (1) Pune Municipal Corporation and Anr v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki and Ors: : (2014) 3 SCC 183; (2) Union of India and Ors. v. Shiv Raj and Ors: : (2014) 6 SCC 564; and a very recent decision of the Supreme Court in (3) Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Association v. State of Tamil Nadu and Ors: Civil Appeal No. 8700/2013 decided on 10.09.2014.

(3.)IN Pune Municipal Corporation (supra) , the Supreme Court with reference to Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act held as under: -
"11. Section 24(2) also begins with non obstante clause. This provision has overriding effect over Section 24(1). Section 24(2) enacts that in relation to the land acquisition proceedings initiated under the 1894 Act, where an award has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act and either of the two contingencies is satisfied viz. (i) physical possession of the land has not been taken, or (ii) the compensation has not been paid; such acquisition proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed. On the lapse of such acquisition proceedings, if the appropriate Government still chooses to acquire the land which was the subject -matter of acquisition under the 1894 Act then it has to initiate the proceedings afresh under the 2013 Act. The proviso appended to Section 24(2) deals with a situation where in respect of the acquisition initiated under the 1894 Act an award has been made and compensation in respect of a majority of landholdings has not been deposited in the account of the beneficiaries then all the beneficiaries specified in the Section 4 notification become entitled to compensation under the 2013 Act."

(underlining added)

In connection with the manner in which compensation is to be paid, the Supreme Court further observed as under: -

"17. While enacting Section 24(2) , Parliament definitely had in its view Section 31 of the 1894 Act. From that one thing is clear that it did not intend to equate the word "paid" to "offered" or "tendered". But at the same time, we do not think that by use of the word "paid", Parliament intended receipt of compensation by the landowners/persons interested. In our view, it is not appropriate to give a literal construction to the expression "paid" used in this sub - section [sub -section (2) of Section 24]. If a literal construction were to be given, then it would amount to ignoring the procedure, mode and manner of deposit provided in Section 31(2) of the 1894 Act in the event of happening of any of the contingencies contemplated therein which may prevent the Collector from making actual payment of compensation. We are of the view, therefore, that for the purposes of Section 24(2) , the compensation shall be regarded as "paid" if the compensation has been offered to the person interested and such compensation has been deposited in the court where reference under Section 18 can be made on happening of any of the contingencies contemplated under Section 31(2) of the 1894 Act. In other words, the compensation may be said to have been "paid" within the meaning of Section 24(2) when the Collector (or for that matter Land Acquisition Officer) has discharged his obligation and deposited the amount of compensation in court and made that amount available to the interested person to be dealt with as provided in Sections 32 and 33."

(underlining added)

Later in the said judgment, the Supreme Court reiterated its position on Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act as under: -

"21. The argument on behalf of the Corporation that the subject land acquisition proceedings have been concluded in all respects under the 1894 Act and that they are not affected at all in view of Section 114(2) of the 2013 Act, has no merit at all, and is noted to be rejected. Section 114(1) of the 2013 Act repeals the 1894 Act. Sub -section (2) of Section 114, however, makes Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 applicable with regard to the effect of repeal but this is subject to the provisions in the 2013 Act. Under Section 24(2) land acquisition proceedings initiated under the 1894 Act, by legal fiction, are deemed to have lapsed where award has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act and possession of the land is not taken or compensation has not been paid. The legal fiction under Section 24(2) comes into operation as soon as conditions stated therein are satisfied. The applicability of Section 6 of the General Clauses Act being subject to Section 24(2) , there is no merit in the contention of the Corporation."

(underlining added)

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