The Constitutional Bench on 6th March 2020 concluded a contentious matter about the analysis of Section 24 of Land Acquisition Act, 2013 which contracts with the circumstances beneath which the Land Acquisition rule under Section 24 is considered to have terminated. By this Decision, the SC overruled the decision proclaimed by the 3 Judge Bench of SC in the Pune Municipal Corporation Case.

Understanding Section 24 of the Act

Section 24(1) of Act, 2013 presents that where no award has been established beneath the 1894 Act, the landowner will be allowed to the privileges of the 2013 Act and where the honour has been delivered, the procedures under the 1894 Act will prevail unchanged.

Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013 grants that were beneath the processes of land acquisition under 1894 Act the grant has been established 5 years or more before the initiation of 2013 Act (i.e. 1stjan, 2014), the supposed proceedings shall terminate in the case where –

  1. The physical possession of the property has not been exerted, or
  2. The payment has not been settled.

Section 24 in The Land Acquisition Act, 1894

24 Matters to be ignored in deciding coverage. But the Court shall not take into attention

  • First, the level of necessity which has commenced to the acquisition;
  • Secondly, any objection of the person involved to part with the land acquired;
  • Thirdly, any loss conveyed by him which, if prompted by a private person, would not perform such physique accountable to a lawsuit;
  • Fourthly, any loss which is possible to be prompted to the land acquired, after the date of the announcement of the notification under section 6, by or in value of the application to which it will be established;
  • Fifthly, any addition to the benefit of the land obtained expected to increase from the value to which it will be set when procured;
  • Sixthly, any addition to the utility of the other land of the person entertained possible to accumulate from the application to which the land acquired will be established;
  • Seventhly, if there is any expense or any changes or any kind of disposition on the acquired land which is addressed or is being produced without taking any consultation from the collector subsequently from the date of the notification,

Background of the Case

In the case, Pune Municipal Corporation & Another v. Harakhchand Misrimal Solanki & Others believed concerning the analysis of Section 24 of the Act that the Collateral of Settlement in the Treasury cannot be considered as payment beneath Section 24(2) and accordingly, land acquisition procedures will termin. 

This belief commanded for 3 years, except in 2017 the court in the Supreme Court proceeding of Indore Development Authority v. S. Shailendra asked its accuracy and accordingly, assigned it to the higher bench.

The Constitution Bench was placed up to determine the subsequent subject regarding the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.

The phrases ‘paid’ and ‘deposited’ under Section 24 of the Act would constitute the security of payment in the Government Treasury. The landowners could not command that the amount should be inserted with the Court or the landowners to hold the actions following the earlier Act.

Objects of Analysis

The ‘Or’ among the property has not been exerted and payment has not been given under Section 24(2) of the Act has to be perceived as ‘And’. This would indicate that the proceedings will only terminate when no settlement has been exercised as well as no return has been adjusted. There would be no failure if possession is chosen but payment is not settled and compensation is given but possession is not apprehended.

The Court asserted ‘by interpreting the expression ‘or’ as ‘and’, the words ‘or the commission has not been settled’ becomes useless. Parliament could have only said that terminating would transpire only if possession has not been exerted because if possession is taken then there would never be a lapsing and consequently, such statement was hostile to every course of the discussion.’

The provision to Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 is to be handled as a portion of Section 24(2) and no portion of Section 24(1)(b). 

The difference within the 1894 and 2013 Act

In 1894 Act the Acquisition of land was according to the will of the Government, whereas in the 2013 Act the acquisition challenges approval in a matter of Public-Private Projects and Private companies for a public persistence.

In the 1894 Act, Compensation is provided according to the general circle motion in the area which is antiquated and too less whereas the new Act provisions for better terms for compensation.

Generally, the landowner takes 4 times the market rate of land in the event of rural areas and 2 times the market rate of land in the state of urban areas.

1894 Act grants no Appeal mechanism to obstruct or examine the manner of Acquisition but in the current Act various checks and authorization to obtain the land acquisition rule as a win-win condition.

Before final discussions could occur, numerous attorneys contended that Justice Arun Mishra ought to recuse himself from the Bench. They suggested that as he had commenced the Bench that presented in the 2018 Indore Development Authority report, he experienced from a recognized prejudice. On 24 October 2019, he passed a more than 60-page plan rejecting these discussions.

On 4 March 2020, the Pune municipal cooperation was reversed by the five-judge bench and had a firm believed that the proceeding of the land acquisition will not get lapsed solely because if there is any failure in handling the return to the landowners. It regarded that failure will only happen if the State also abandons to obtain a physical settlement of the land.

Moreover, it ensured that payment does not expect the State to invest money in a landowner’s record – offering coverage is adequate. Justice Mishra authored the decision.

The decision does not discuss the matter of whether a Court can place down a decision of an earlier Court of the equivalent power.

Effect and Conclusion

The decision will influence all the cases sustaining the land acquisition procedures where the discussion was concerning the failure of procedures under the 1894 Act due to not payment of damages or not exercising the ownership.

The Court decided the subject with the pronouncements which are defining the true intention of the council by Section 24.

The Court pronounced Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 does not give commencement to a distinct purpose of the action to challenge the legitimacy of settled processes of land acquisition. Section 24 concerns a course pending on the date of implementation of the Act of 2013, i.e., 1.1.2014. It does not improve stale and time-barred applications and does not re-establish achieved actions nor permit landowners to challenge the legitimacy of the mode of exercising ownership to re-establish proceedings or mode of deposit of payment in the depository rather of the court to nullify acquisition.’

Author: Varun Vikas Srivastav,
Amity Law School, Amity University Noida and 4th Year BBA.LLB

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