BAPUSO NARAYAN KULKARNI Vs. STATE OF MAHARASHTRA
LAWS(BOM)-2016-2-199
HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY
Decided on February 16,2016

Bapuso Narayan Kulkarni Appellant
VERSUS
STATE OF MAHARASHTRA Respondents







JUDGEMENT

- (1.)Heard the learned counsel appearing for the Petitioners and the learned AGP for the Respondents. On the last date, the parties were put to notice that the Petitions will be taken up for final disposal at admission stage. In Writ Petition No.11616 of 2014, the challenge is to the Award dated 30th September, 2002 under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (for short "the said Act of 1894"). The main contention raised in the Petition is that in view of sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (for short "the said Act of 2013"), acquisition proceedings shall be deemed to have been lapsed. This contention is mainly based on the assertion that the compensation amount has not been paid.
(2.)In Writ Petition No.11259 of 2014, the challenge is to the Award made on 21st January, 2004 under Section 11 of the said Act of 1894. The main challenge is on the same ground as in the other Writ Petition. In both the Writ Petitions, there is an affidavit-in-reply filed by the State Government by Dr. Swati K. Deshmukh Patil, the Deputy Collector (Land Acquisition No.12) Kolhapur. The stand taken in both the affidavits in reply is that though notices were served to the owner/persons interested in the acquired lands, they did not come forward to collect the compensation. Therefore, the compensation amount has been deposited in the Government PLA (Personal Ledger Account).
(3.)On this aspect, the law is no more res integra. These two cases will be governed by the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation and another v. Harakchand Misrimal Solanki, 2014 AIR(SC) 982. The Apex Court interpreted sub-section (2) of Section 24 while dealing with the issue whether the offer of the compensation to the owner/persons interested will be covered by the word "paid" used in sub-section (2) of Section 24. Paragraphs 15 to 17 of the said decision read thus :
' 15. Simply put, Section 31 of the 1894 Act makes provision for payment of compensation or deposit of the same in the court. This provision requires that the Collector should tender payment of compensation as awarded by him to the persons interested who are entitled to compensation. If due to happening of any contingency as contemplated in Section 31(2), the compensation has not been paid, the Collector should deposit the amount of compensation in the court to which reference can be made under Section 18.

16. The mandatory nature of the provision in Section 31(2) with regard to deposit of the compensation in the court is further fortified by the provisions contained in Sections 32, 33 and 34. As a matter of fact, Section 33 gives power to the court, on an application by a person interested or claiming an interest in such money, to pass an order to invest the amount so deposited in such Government or other approved securities and may direct the interest or other proceeds of any such investment to be accumulated and paid in such manner as it may consider proper so that the parties interested therein may have the benefit there from as they might have had from the land in respect whereof such money shall have been deposited or as near thereto as may be.

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 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.

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