M. Sathyanarayanan, J. -
(1.)THE primordial and core issue to be adjudicated in these writ petitions is to the applicability of the provisions of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Central Act No. 30/2013) [in short "Right to Fair Compensation Act"] (new Act) viz -a -viz, Land Acquisition Central Act 1894 (old Act) and hence, all these writ petitions are disposed of by this common order.
(2.)VARIOUS land/property owners made a challenge to the notification issued under section 17(2) of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (old Act), invoking the emergency clause to acquire their property for putting up Mass Rapid Transit System [MRTS] Phase -II extension from Velachery to St.Thomas Mount. One such writ petition in W.P. No. 4794/2011, came to be dismissed on 03.07.2012 and challenging the same W.A. No. 1548/2012 was filed by Tvl.Ekambaram and 10 others and while the writ appeal was pending, other property owners made individual challenge by filing W.P. Nos. 68/2011, 31411/2012, 3383/2013, 8265/2013 and 9437/2013 and those writ petitions were taken up together along with W.A.1548/2012. The writ appeal as well as the writ petitions were dismissed by a Division Bench of this Court, vide common judgment dated 09.04.2014 and no further challenge has been made to the said judgment and it has become final. In the light of the said judgment, the decision taken by the concerned authority to invoke urgency clause under the old Act came to be sustained.
Thereafter, the Special Tahsildar (Land Acquisition) MRTS Phase -II Extension, Chennai -4, has issued notices under Section 12(2) of the old Act dated 18.09.2014 to the individual land owners stating among other things that compensation has been determined and called upon them to appear before the said official in person or through authorized agent along with necessary records such as Document of Title, Patta Passbook, Land Tax/Property Tax Receipts, Encumbrance Certificate for a period of 30 years, Family Card/Ration Card, PAN Card, Voters Identity Card and Approved Layout for the purpose of receiving the compensation. In some cases, Draft Award dated 15.09.2014 was also passed by the said official by taking into consideration G.O.(Ms.)No. 88, Revenue [LA -I(1)] Department dated 21.02.2014. The power of the said official to invoke the provisions of the old Act to issue notices under Section 12(2) as well as interim compensation awarded by invoking the provisions of the old Act is put to challenge in these writ petitions.
(3.)FACTS leading to the acquisition of lands/properties pertain to the above said project have been narrated in detail and in extenso in the common order dated 09.04.2014 made in W.A. No. 1548/2012 etc., batch and for the sake of brevity, only relevant facts are stated for disposing of these writ petitions:
4.1. Initially some of the landowners filed W.P. No. 30173 to 30177 of 2014 praying for issuance of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus to quash the draft/interim award dated 15.09.2014 communicated to them under Section 12(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, vide notification dated 18.09.2014 with a prayer to quash the same and for a further direction directing the Land Acquisition Officer/Special Tahsildar, MRTS Phase -II Extension, to determine the compensation under the provisions of Right to Fair Compensation Act, 2013/new Act. The writ petitioners, after receipt of the award as well as individual notices, submitted representations praying for determination of the compensation under the new Act and taking into consideration of the same, the learned Judge has disposed of the writ petition with a direction directing the said official to consider the representation and pass orders in accordance with law after issuing notices to them and after conducting enquiry within a stipulated time frame. The land/property owners, aggrieved by the said order, filed W.A. Nos. 1675 to 1679/2014 and a Division Bench of this Court, vide common judgment dated 16.02.2015, has set aside the said order and remanded the matter once again to the writ Court for fresh consideration and also observed that the project in question is a prestigious one for the City of Chennai and any delay would cause serious prejudice to them and hence, the matter needs to be considered by the learned Single Judge as an urgent one and made a request to take up the writ petitions and dispose of the same at an early date.
4.2. The petitioners in W.P. Nos. 27550 to 27553/2014 had filed M.P. Nos. 3, 3, 3 & 3 of 2014 to raise additional grounds as to the applicability of the new Act and those petitions were also ordered on 23.07.2015.