4 August 2020


Supreme Court

Delhi Development Authority v. Sukhbir Singh and Ors.



Land Acquisition

State has no business to expropriate property, if an award made and necessary steps to complete acquisition have not been taken for a period of five years or more

In instant case, a Notification under Section 4 of Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was issued on 24th October, 1961, stating that public purpose for acquisition was planned development of Delhi. This Section 4Notification was followed by a Notification under Section 6 dated 4th January, 1969, which in turn, was followed by notices issued under Section 9 on 26th April, 1983. An award relating to land was then made by Land Acquisition Collector, only on 12th December, 1997. Possession of said land, being an open piece of land, was taken by a Panchnama dated 27th January, 2000.

On eve of coming into force of 2013 Act (on 1st January, 2014), an application styled as a Petition under Article 227 of Constitution of India was made by Land Acquisition Collector in High Court requesting the High Court of Delhi to accept cheques towards compensation amounts under award dated 12th December, 1997, stating that non-deposit of compensation on or before 31st December, 2013 would adversely affect acquisition proceedings as proceedings might lapse in view of fact that 2013 Act has been notified to take effect from 1st January, 2014. High Court held that without prejudice to rights and contentions of land owners, cheques tendered in each petition would be treated as a tender to Court of the Additional District Judge, Delhi as on 30th December, 2013.

Original land holders thereafter presented a Writ Petition, before High Court of Delhi, stating that as possession had not been taken and as compensation had neither been tendered nor paid to Petitioner, requisite conditions of Section24(2) of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 would be met, and that, as a result, acquisition proceedings had lapsed. High Court of Delhi allowed said petition based on judgment in Pune Municipal Corporation and Anr. v. H.M. Solanki.

. According to Section 24(2), State has no business to expropriate from a citizen his property if an award has been made and necessary steps to complete acquisition have not been taken for a period of five years or more. These steps include taking of physical possession of land and payment of compensation. Standing Order fleshes out Section 31 of Land Acquisition Act, by insisting that compensation must be paid as soon as award is announced. Sufficient notice must be given to enable all payees to assemble at a place where they will receive their dues immediately.

On facts, it is clear that neither tender, that is offer to original claimant nor payment has been made in manner provided by Section 31 read with Standing Order No. 28 of 1909. In present case, as has been admitted in affidavit filed in this Court, DDA was not ready with compensation payable on day the award was pronounced, but only handed over such compensation to Land Acquisition Collector five years after award was pronounced, that is, in 2002. Land Acquisition Collector, in its turn, did nothing whatsoever to offer the said sum or pay it to the original owners. On the contrary, by moving an application on the eve of the coming into force of the 2013 Act, and by depositing the said amount of compensation paid to it in the year 2002 only on 30th December, 2013, it is clear that the aforesaid mandatory provision and procedure were not followed by the authorities. The present original land owners' lands were notified for acquisition on 24th October, 1961, of which possession was taken four decades later, in 2000; after which the land owners have yet to see colour of paltry amount of compensation offered which has neither been tendered nor paid to them. In facts disclosed by this case, there could not be stronger facts to hold such acquisition non est in accordance with object sought to be achieved by Section 24(2) of 2013 Act.

A notice of award under Section 12(2) to persons interested can only be issued after money is received by Land Acquisition Collector, and that said Collector shall not take possession of land unless and until compensation amount is received by him. Further, actual payment to land owners must be made latest within a period of 60 days. Also, it cannot be forgotten that, amount usually offered by way of an award of a Land Acquisition Collector under 1894 Act is way below the real market value, which is only awarded and paid years later when the reference proceedings culminate in judgments of the High Courts and of this Court.

Section 24(2) uses the expression "deemed to have lapsed" because Legislature was cognizant of fact that, in cases where compensation has not been paid, and physical possession handed over to State, vesting has taken place, after which land acquisition proceedings could be said to have ended. Pune Municipal Corporation does not require to be revisited. Having regard to law declared in Pune Municipal Corporation case, as followed by other judgments of this Court, High Court is correct and that impugned judgment calls for no interference.


Pune Municipal Corporation and Anr. v. H.M. Solanki [ MANU/SC/0055/2014
] : 2014(2) SCC 183 : 2014(3) SCC 183, Section 24(2) of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013

Tags : Compensation Acquisition Proceedings Lapsed

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