Delhi Development Authority vs Rajan Sood

Delhi Development Authority vs Rajan Sood - Supreme Court Case 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1927 OF 2022
Delhi Development Authority           ..Appellant (S)
Versus
Rajan Sood & Ors.                            ..Respondent (S)
With 
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1928 OF 2022
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 30.08.2016 passed by the High
Court   of   Delhi   at   New   Delhi   in   Writ   Petition   (C)   No.
1034/2015, by which the High Court has allowed the said
writ petition preferred by the private respondents herein –
original   writ   petitioners   and   has   declared   that   the
acquisition   proceedings   initiated   under   the   Land
Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as the Act,
1
1894) in respect of the subject lands are deemed to have
lapsed under sub­section (2) of section 24 of the Right to
Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,
Rehabilitation   and   Resettlement   Act,   2013   (hereinafter
referred to as the Act, 2013), Delhi Development Authority
(DDA) and Government of NCT of Delhi have preferred the
present appeals.
  
2. Private   respondent   No.1   and   2   herein   ­   original   writ
petitioners filed the writ petition before the High Court for
a   declaration   that   the   acquisition   proceedings   initiated
under the Act, 1894 in respect of the subject lands are
deemed to have lapsed under sub­section (2) of section 24
of the Act, 2013. It was the case on behalf of the original
writ   petitioners   before   the   High   Court   that   as   the
possession of the land in question is with them and no
compensation   has   been   paid,   the   land   acquisition
proceedings are deemed to have lapsed. Heavy reliance
was placed on the decision of this Court in the case of
Pune  Municipal  Corporation  and  Anr.  Vs.  Harakchand
Misirimal Solanki and Ors, (2014) 3 SCC 183.       
2
2.1 The petition was opposed by the appellants herein and
others. It was the specific case on behalf of the DDA that
as   such   the   compensation   was   tendered   to   one   Shiv
Kumar S/o Devi Chand. Relying upon the decision of this
Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation (supra),
the High Court, by the impugned judgment and order has
allowed the said writ petition and has declared that the
acquisition proceedings initiated under the Act, 1894 in
respect of the subject lands are deemed to have lapsed
under sub­section (2) of section 24 of the Act, 2013.
2.2 Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order passed by the High Court, DDA and
Government of NCT of Delhi have preferred the present
appeals.
3. Learned   counsel   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   DDA   has
vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances
of   the   case   the   High   Court   has   materially   erred   in
declaring   that   the   acquisition   proceedings   have   lapsed
under sub­section (2) of section 24 of the Act, 2013. 
3
3.1 It is submitted on behalf of the DDA that in the present
case as such the possession was already taken over by the
Authority on 23.09.1986 after following the due procedure
as   required   and   even   a   punchnama   was   also   drawn,
which was the requirement while taking over possession. 
3.2 It is urged that even the compensation was tendered to
the  recorded owner ­ Shri Shiv  Kumar  through  notice
under section 12(2) of the Act, 1894 but recorded owner
never came forward to accept the same. It is submitted
that   therefore,   the   original   writ   petitioners   cannot   be
permitted   to   take   the   benefit   under   sub­section   (2)   of
section 24 of the Act, 2013.
3.3 It   is   further   submitted   that   even   the   amount   of
compensation of Rs.2.00 crores was deposited by the DDA
with   the   Land   and   Building   Department   towards
compensation. Therefore, the original writ petitioners are
not entitled to the benefit of deemed lapse.
3.4 It is further contended by learned counsel appearing on
behalf of the DDA and the Government of NCT of Delhi
4
that as such the original writ petitioners were not having
any locus  to  file the  writ petition as their title to the
property   is   shrouded   with   fraud   and   investigation   is
pending with the Anti­Corruption Branch. It is submitted
that as the possession of the land in question was already
taken   over   as   far   as   back   on   23.09.1986   and   even
compensation of Rs.2.00 crores was deposited with the
Land and Building Department, in view of the subsequent
decision in the case of  Indore  Development  Authority
Vs. Manoharlal and Ors., (2020) 8 SCC 129, it cannot be
said the acquisition proceedings have lapsed under subsection (2) of section 24 of the Act, 2013. 
3.5 It is further submitted on behalf of the appellants that
while passing the impugned judgment and order, the High
Court has relied on the decision of this Court in the case
of  Pune  Municipal  Corporation  (supra). That, the said
decision   has   been   subsequently   overruled   by   the
Constitution bench of this Court in the case of  Indore
Development Authority (supra). 
5
3.6 In the alternative, it is submitted by the learned counsel
appearing   on   behalf   of   the   respective   appellants   that
assuming, without admitting that the possession of the
land in question remain with the original writ petitioners,
in that case also, as there was an order of stay granted by
the High Court in the year 2011, in the writ petition filed
by the original writ petitioners and the High Court granted
the interim order of taking no coercive action/order qua
the land, therefore, in view of the decision of this Court in
the case of  Indore Development  Authority  (supra), the
period   under   which   the   stay   was   operative   is   to   be
excluded. Reliance is placed on para 366.8 of the decision
of   this   Court   in   the   case   of  Indore   Development
Authority (supra). 
3.7 Making   the   above   submission   and   relying   upon   the
aforesaid   decision,   it   is   prayed   to   allow   the   present
appeals.        
4. Both these appeals are vehemently opposed by Ms. Pinky
Anand, learned Senior Advocate appearing on behalf of
6
the original writ petitioners. Counter affidavits have been
filed on behalf of private respondent No.1 and 2 – original
writ petitioners opposing the present appeals.
4.1 It is vehemently submitted by Ms. Anand, learned Senior
Advocate   appearing   on   behalf   of   the   original   writ
petitioners   that   as   such   there   are   specific   findings
recorded   by   the   High   Court   that   the   original   writ
petitioners   continue   to   be   in   physical   possession   and
therefore,   as   neither   the   actual   possession   of   land   in
question was taken over nor any compensation was paid
and/or even tendered to the original writ petitioners. It is
rightly held that acquisition proceedings have lapsed.
4.2 It is urged that in fact in the earlier order passed by the
High Court on 09.11.2011 in writ petition No.7714/2011,
the   Division   Bench   directed   the   authority   to   consider
their application under section 48 of the Act, 1894 and to
decide it on merits. That as per section 48 of the Act,
1894 only in a case where possession of the land is not
taken   over   by   the   acquiring   authority,   then   only,   the
application under section 48 of the Act, 1894 would be
7
maintainable. It is submitted therefore, when the Division
Bench directed the authority to consider the application
of the petitioners under section 48 of the Act, 1894 on
merits,   it   is   to   be   presumed   that   only   original   writ
petitioners continue to remain possession. It is contended
that the authority might have taken ex­parte possession
on paper as alleged on 23.09.1986, however, the original
writ   petitioners   remained   in   possession   actually.   It   is
further submitted by learned Senior Advocate appearing
on behalf of the original writ petitioners that there is also
a specific finding recorded by the High Court that the
authorities   have   failed   to   prove   that   any   amount   of
compensation was paid and/or tendered to the original
writ petitioners or even deposited with the treasury. It is
submitted that when the original writ petitioners remain
in   possession   and   neither   the   compensation   was
tendered nor it was paid, the twin conditions to declare
the acquisition proceedings as having lapsed under subsection   (2)   of   section   24   of   the   Act,   2013   have   been
satisfied. It is therefore submitted that the High Court
has   not   committed   any   error   in   declaring   that   the
8
acquisition proceedings in respect of the subject lands
are   deemed   to   have   lapsed   under   sub­section   (2)   of
section 24 of the Act, 2013  
5. We have heard learned counsel appearing on behalf of the
respective parties at length.  
6. By the impugned judgment and order the High Court has
held and declared that the land acquisition proceedings in
respect of the land in question are deemed to have lapsed
under sub­section (2) of section 24 of the Act, 2013. While
holding and declaring so the High Court has relied upon
decision   of   this   Court   in   the   case   of  Pune   Municipal
Corporation  (supra). However, the said decision of this
Court has been subsequently overruled by the decision of
this Court in the case of Indore Development Authority
(supra). In paragraph 365 to 366, this Court in the case of
Indore Development Authority (supra) has observed and
held as under: ­ 
“365. Resultantly,   the   decision   rendered   in Pune
Municipal   Corpn. [Pune   Municipal
Corpn. v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki, (2014) 3 SCC
183 : (2014) 2 SCC (Civ) 274] is hereby overruled and
all   other   decisions   in   which Pune   Municipal
9
Corpn. [Pune Municipal Corpn. v. Harakchand Misirimal
Solanki, (2014) 3 SCC 183 : (2014) 2 SCC (Civ) 274]
has been followed, are also overruled. The decision
in Sree   Balaji   Nagar   Residential   Assn. [Sree   Balaji
Nagar Residential Assn. v. State of T.N., (2015) 3 SCC
353 : (2015) 2 SCC (Civ) 298] cannot be said to be
laying down good law, is overruled and other decisions
following   the   same   are   also   overruled.   In Indore
Development   Authority v. Shailendra [Indore
Development Authority v. Shailendra, (2018) 3 SCC 412
: (2018) 2 SCC (Civ) 426] , the aspect with respect to
the proviso to Section 24(2) and whether “or” has to be
read   as   “nor”   or   as   “and”   was   not   placed   for
consideration.   Therefore,   that   decision   too   cannot
prevail, in the light of the discussion in the present
judgment.
366. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we answer
the questions as under:
366.1. Under the provisions of Section 24(1)(a) in case
the award is not made as on 1­1­2014, the date of
commencement of the 2013 Act, there is no lapse of
proceedings.   Compensation   has   to   be   determined
under the provisions of the 2013 Act.
366.2. In case the award has been passed within the
window   period   of   five   years   excluding   the   period
covered   by   an   interim   order   of   the   court,   then
proceedings shall continue as provided under Section
24(1)(b) of the 2013 Act under the 1894 Act as if it has
not been repealed.
366.3. The word “or” used in Section 24(2) between
possession and compensation has to be read as “nor”
or   as   “and”.   The   deemed   lapse   of   land   acquisition
proceedings under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act takes
place where due to inaction of authorities for five years
or more prior to commencement of the said Act, the
possession   of   land   has   not   been   taken   nor
compensation has been paid. In other words, in case
possession   has   been   taken,   compensation   has   not
been   paid   then   there   is   no   lapse.   Similarly,   if
compensation has been paid, possession has not been
taken then there is no lapse.
10
366.4. The   expression   “paid”   in   the   main   part   of
Section   24(2)   of   the   2013   Act   does   not   include   a
deposit of compensation in court. The consequence of
non­deposit is provided in the proviso to Section 24(2)
in   case   it   has   not   been   deposited   with   respect   to
majority   of   landholdings   then   all   beneficiaries
(landowners) as on the date of notification for land
acquisition under Section 4 of the 1894 Act shall be
entitled   to   compensation   in   accordance   with   the
provisions   of   the   2013   Act.   In   case   the   obligation
under Section 31 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894
has not been fulfilled, interest under Section 34 of the
said Act can be granted. Non­deposit of compensation
(in   court)   does   not   result   in   the   lapse   of   land
acquisition proceedings. In case of non­deposit with
respect to the majority of holdings for five years or
more, compensation under the 2013 Act has to be paid
to the “landowners” as on the date of notification for
land acquisition under Section 4 of the 1894 Act.
366.5. In   case   a   person   has   been   tendered   the
compensation as provided under Section 31(1) of the
1894   Act,   it   is   not   open   to   him   to   claim   that
acquisition has lapsed under Section 24(2) due to nonpayment or non­deposit of compensation in court. The
obligation to pay is complete by tendering the amount
under Section 31(1). The landowners who had refused
to accept compensation or who sought reference for
higher   compensation,   cannot   claim   that   the
acquisition   proceedings   had   lapsed   under   Section
24(2) of the 2013 Act.
366.6. The proviso to Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act is
to   be   treated   as   part   of   Section   24(2),   not   part   of
Section 24(1)(b).
366.7. The mode of taking possession under the 1894
Act and as contemplated under Section 24(2) is by
drawing of inquest report/memorandum. Once award
has been passed on taking possession under Section
16 of the 1894 Act, the land vests in State there is no
divesting provided under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act,
as once possession has been taken there is no lapse
under Section 24(2).
366.8. The provisions of Section 24(2) providing for a
deemed lapse of proceedings are applicable in case
11
authorities have failed due to their inaction to take
possession   and   pay   compensation   for   five   years   or
more   before   the   2013   Act   came   into   force,   in   a
proceeding   for   land   acquisition   pending   with   the
authority  concerned   as  on   1­1­2014.   The   period   of
subsistence of interim orders passed by court has to
be excluded in the computation of five years.
366.9. Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not give rise
to   new   cause   of   action   to   question   the   legality   of
concluded proceedings of land acquisition. Section 24
applies   to   a   proceeding   pending   on   the   date   of
enforcement of the 2013 Act i.e. 1­1­2014. It does not
revive   stale   and   time­barred   claims   and   does   not
reopen concluded proceedings nor allow landowners to
question the legality of mode of taking possession to
reopen   proceedings   or   mode   of   deposit   of
compensation   in   the   treasury   instead   of   court   to
invalidate acquisition.”
7. The High Court while passing the impugned judgment
and order has observed that the possession of the land in
question continued with the original writ petitioners and
that the compensation was neither paid nor even tendered
to the original writ petitioners. However, by holding that
the original writ petitioners have continued to remain in
possession, the High Court has relied upon the earlier
order   dated   09.11.2011   passed   in   writ   petition
No.7714/2011,   by   which   the   High   Court   directed   the
authority to consider their application under section 48 of
the Act, 1894 on merits. However, it was the specific case
12
on behalf of the authority before the learned Single Judge
that the possession of the land in question was already
taken   over   on   23.09.1986   and   even   the   compensation
amount of Rs.2.00 crores was deposited with the land and
building department.
7.1 It is the case on behalf of the original writ petitioners that
a   purported   letter   dated   23.09.1986   allegedly   taking
symbolic possession was never disclosed by appellants in
the proceedings conducted before the High Court on two
separate occasions and the same has been filed for the
first time in the present proceedings. The aforesaid is not
correct. Even in the impugned order itself in paragraph 2,
the High Court has noted the submissions on behalf of
the appellants to the effect that the possession was taken
over on 23.09.1986. Therefore, it cannot be said such a
plea is taken for the first time before this Court. It is the
case  on  behalf   of  the  original   writ   petitioners,  relying
upon the earlier order passed by the High Court dated
09.11.2011   in   writ   petition   No.7714/2011   that,   the
original writ petitioners continue to be in possession and
13
the   actual   possession   has   never   been   taken   over.
However, it is required to be noted that even in the order
dated 09.11.2011, there was no specific finding given by
the High Court that the original writ petitioners are in
possession of the land in question. On the contrary, it is
observed that the authority to consider the application
under   section   48   of   the   Act,   1894   on   merits   on   the
assumption of the possession being with the original writ
petitioners.   Therefore,   while   passing   the   order   dated
09.11.2011 also, the High Court assumed the original
writ   petitioners   are   in   possession   hence   as   such   no
specific finding was given to the effect that the original
writ petitioners are in possession. 
7.2 It   is   next   contented   on   behalf   of   the   original   writ
petitioners that the alleged possession on 23.09.1986 is
illegal   and   it   was   a   paper   possession.   However,   it   is
submitted on behalf of the appellants that possession of
land   in   question   was   taken   over   by   drawing   the
punchnama   which   can   be   said   to   be   sufficient
compliance of the requirement while taking possession.
14
The High Court has also doubted the compensation being
tendered as contended on behalf of the appellant. 
7.3 Be that as it may. Assuming for the sake of argument
that   the   original   writ   petitioners   are   found   to   be   in
possession and the compensation was not tendered, in
that case also as can be seen from the order passed by
the   High   Court   on   09.11.2011   in   writ   petition
No.7714/2011, the authority was restrained from taking
any coercive action in respect of the land in question.
Therefore,   in   view   of   the   subsequent   decision   of   this
Court   in   the   case   of  Indore   Development   Authority
(supra ­ paragraph 366.8), the period, during which the
interim order is/was operative, has to be excluded in the
computation of  five years’ period. In the  present case
even, it is the contention on behalf of the original writ
petitioners   that   the   order   of   no   coercive   action   was
directed to be continued till the application under section
48 of the Act, 1894 was decided. It is the specific case on
behalf of the original writ petitioners before this Court
and even so stated in the written submissions that till
15
date no decision is taken on the application under section
48 of the Act, 1894. Meaning thereby the direction/stay
granted by the High Court while passing the order dated
09.11.2011   in   writ   petition   No.7714/2011   continued
when the Act, 2013 came into force.
7.4 In that view of the matter and considering the decision of
this Court in case of  Indore   Development   Authority
(supra),   it   cannot   be   said   that   the   land   acquisition
proceedings are deemed to have lapsed under sub­section
(2) of section 24 of the Act, 2013. 
8. Applying the law laid down by this Court in the case of
Indore   Development   Authority  (supra),   more
particularly, paragraph 366, it cannot be said that the
land acquisition proceedings are deemed to have lapsed.
9. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above and
on the aforesaid ground alone that at the time when the
Act, 2013 came into force there was a stay granted by the
High Court vide order dated 09.11.2011 in writ petition
No.7714/2011   restraining   the   authority   taking   any
16
coercive action in respect of the land in question, the
impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court
declaring   that   the   land   acquisition   proceedings   are
deemed to have lapsed under sub­section (2) of section
24 of the Act, 2013, is unsustainable.
  
10. In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the
present appeals are allowed. The impugned judgment and
order   passed   by   the   High   Court   in   Writ   Petition   (C)
No.1043/2015   declaring   that   the   land   acquisition
proceedings under the Act, 1894 with respect to the land
in question are deemed to have lapsed under sub­section
(2) of section 24 of the Act, 2013, is hereby quashed and
set   aside.   The   present   appeals   are   allowed   to   the
aforesaid extent, accordingly. There shall be no order as
to costs.    
…………………………………J.
                (M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
 (B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
March 29, 2022.
17

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