4 August 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

Bijender and Ors. Vs. State of Haryana and Ors.

MANU/SC/1362/2017

27.10.2017

Land Acquisition

Belting system is applicable when large pieces of land having different locations are acquired for determining market value

The landowners filed Reference Petitions under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 before the Additional District Judge, praying for enhancement of the compensation contending that, the market value of the land at the time of acquisition was much higher than what was offered by the Collector in his Awards. According to the Appellants (landowners), the market value was to the tune of Rs. 5000/- per sq. yds. The Additional District Judge by its common Award dismissed all reference petitions and, in consequence, upheld the Awards passed by the Collector. The Reference Court was of the view that, the rate at which the compensation was determined by the Collector by applying the Belting System in working out the compensation was just and proper and as per Section 23 of the Act. The Reference Court, therefore, did not enhance the compensation awarded by the Collector. All the reference petitions were accordingly dismissed.

Aggrieved by the said Awards, the landowners filed separate Regular First Appeals before the High Court praying for enhancement of the compensation. The High Court while disposing of the said appeals partly allowed the appeals. Issue raised in instant appeal is whether the Courts below were justified in applying the "Belting System" for determining the market rates of the acquired land in question and that whether the highest rate of Rs. 4500/- per square yard of the land of the nearby area out of 59 sale deeds should be made basis for determining the market rate of the acquired land.

The acquired land having a frontage abutting the highway/main road always has a better value as compared to the land, which is away from the highway/main road. Indeed, farther the land from the highway/main road, lesser the value of such land. In such a situation, where large pieces of land having different locations are acquired, Belting System is considered apposite for determining the market value of the lands. In Belting System, the acquired land is usually divided in two or three belts depending upon the facts of each case. The market value of the front belt abutting the main road is taken to fetch maximum value whereas the second belt fetches two third or so of the rate determined in relation to the first belt and the third belt, if considered proper to carve out, fetches half or so of the maximum. It is again depending upon facts of each case. Similarly, this Court has consistently held on the question as to what is fair and reasonable market value of any acquired land on the date of its acquisition. It is held that, such a question is always a question of fact and its answer depends on the nature of evidence, circumstances and probabilities appearing in each case.

The acquired land having a frontage abutting the highway/main road always has a better value as compared to the land, which is away from the highway/main road. Indeed, farther the land from the highway/main road, lesser the value of such land. In such a situation, where large pieces of land having different locations are acquired, Belting System is considered apposite for determining the market value of the lands. Collector was justified in applying the Belting System to the acquired land in question. Since the acquired land was a large chunk of land having its frontage abutting the roadside, the Belting System was rightly applied to the acquired land for determination of its fair market rate. The Appellants too did not raise any objection before the Collector and before the High Court and nor they were able to point out as to why it was not possible to apply the Belting System and what was illegal in its application.

The area sold in each sale deed is very small as compared to the acquired land. The lands which were sold by sale deeds is in square yards and ranges from 31.06 square yards to 440 yards whereas the acquired area in question is in acres and comprises of more than 300 acres. Out of 59 sale deeds, there are as many as 31 sale deeds wherein the area comprises of less than 100 square yards. Except two sale deeds where 60 and 67 square yard of land was sold for Rs. 4,500/- per square yard, all other sale deeds value ranges between Rs. 200/- to Rs. 2000/- per square yard. There can be no comparison between the two lands due to the extent of area which are two extremes and lastly, since no sale deeds were filed by the Appellants showing market price of any large chunk of land sold in acres at the relevant time, it is not possible to place reliance on any of these sale deeds for determining the market rate of the acquired land by applying the same rate.

In view of relevant factors emerging from the evidence and the findings of the Courts below on the issues such as-the location of the acquired land, its surroundings, nature, potentiality, rates of small plots, the purpose of acquisition, development cost needed, non availability of the sale deeds for large areas sold in acres, etc., present Court is of the opinion that just, fair and proper market value of the acquired land in question on the date of issuance of Section 4 notification is determined at Rs. 45,00,000/- for the lands described in detail in column 2 of the Award of the Collector and Rs. 35,00,000/- per acre for lands described in detail in column 1 of the said Award. The Appellants are held entitled to receive compensation for the acquired land. The Appellants are also held entitled to statutory compensation as provided in the Act and which the Courts below had already awarded to the Appellants. The impugned judgments are partially modified in Appellants' favour by enhancing the compensation payable to Appellants (claimants/landowners) in respect of their acquired land.

Tags : Acquisition Compensation Enhancement

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