LAND AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT VS PAWAN KUMAR CASE

LAND AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT VS PAWAN KUMAR CASE / Judgment


Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले


REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3646 OF 2022
(ARISING OUT OF SLP (CIVIL) NO. 26533 OF 2015)
DELHI ADMINISTRATION THR. SECRETARY,
LAND AND BUILDING DEPARTMENT & ORS. .....APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
PAWAN KUMAR & ORS. .....RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
HEMANT GUPTA, J.
1. The challenge in the present appeal is to a judgment and order dated
03.02.2015 whereby the writ petition filed by the respondents was
allowed in view of the earlier judgment of the Delhi High Court in
Gyanender Singh & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors
1
.
2. The respondent purchased the land measuring 7 Bigha 1 Biswa
situated in village Sayoorpur, Tehsil- Mehrauli, New Delhi on
25.11.2011. The original land owner had filed a Writ Petition No. 2276
of 1985 challenging the notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the
Land Acquisition Act,18942
 dated 25.11.1980 and 20.05.1985
1 W.P.(C) No. 1393 of 2014
2 For short the Act
1
respectively. The Land Acquisition Collector had announced the award
on 14.05.1987. The said writ petition filed by the original land owner
was dismissed on 03.03.2005 in view of the order passed on the same
date in Chatro Devi v. Union of India & Ors.
3
. Subsequently, a
review application was filed by the original land owner inter alia on the
ground that the objections filed under Section 5A were not considered.
It was found by the High Court that the original land owner has not
given any date of filing of the objection, nor the details as to when and
before whom the objections were filed. The objections were not
attached with the writ petition either. Consequently, the review
application was dismissed on 27.04.2006. It was thereafter, the
purchaser has purchased the property on 25.11.2011.
3. The Division Bench in Gyanender Singh noticed the payment
deposited by the appellant and held as under:
“It is absolutely clear from the above extracts that unless and
until the compensation is tendered to the persons interested,
mere depositing of the compensation in the court would not be
sufficient. To be clear, compensation cannot be regarded as
having been paid merely on the deposit of the same in court
unless and until it has first been offered to the person interested
and he has refused to accept the same. In the present case, it is
an admitted position that the compensation amount was
tendered in this Court without first being offered to the persons
interested (petitioners). Therefore, in view of the clear dictum of
the Supreme Court in Pune Municipal Corporation (supra), such
deposit of compensation in court cannot be regarded as a
payment of compensation as contemplated under the provisions
of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act.”
4. The High Court declared the acquisition proceedings as lapsed in view
3 2005 SCC Online Delhi 279
2
of the provisions of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and
Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act,
20134
.
5. Such provision has been interpreted in Indore Development
Authority v. Manoharlal & Ors.
5
 wherein it has been held that twin
conditions of non-payment of compensation and/or not taking
possession would lead to the deemed lapse of proceedings. Therefore,
if any of the twin conditions is not satisfied, the proceedings cannot be
declared to be lapsed.
6. The stand of the appellant was that even after the dismissal of the writ
petition filed by the original land owner, interim orders in respect of the
same acquisition in other writ petitions were in operation, therefore,
the appellant could not have taken possession of the land.
7. It was also pointed out that the compensation was deposited by filing
an application before the High Court on 30.12.2013 since the deposit
had not been accepted by the Additional District Judge, South on
account of the Court being closed for winter vacations. Thus, an
application under Article 227 of the Constitution- CM(M) No. 1407 of
2013 was filed before the High Court. The appellant had thus deposited
cheques before the High Court for the amounts payable to original land
owner namely Balkishan S/o Ram Ratan Kapayi such as a sum of
Rs.14,61,188.25 in respect of land measuring 53 Bigha and 9 Biswa,
4 For short, the ‘2013 Act’
5 (2020) 8 SCC 129
3
Rs. 4,21,878.93 for land measuring 13 Bigha and 6 Biswa and
Rs.47,798.97 for land measuring 1 Bigha and 12 Biswa. The High Court
had passed an order that the same shall be treated as tendered to the
Court of Additional District Judge on 30.12.2013. The High Court
passed the following order on 30.12.2013:-
“2. As vaguely pleaded in para 10 and as orally explained, the
urgency to file these petitions is that if compensation assessed is
not paid or deposited the proceedings under the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894 lapse.
3. It is pleaded in paragraph 4 that the concerned Court is
presently closed during winter vacations and shall reopen on
January 02, 2014.
4. Enclosed with the petitions as Annexure-2 are cheques drawn
in the name of ‘ADJ, Delhi’.
5. A meaningful reading of the petition would reveal that the
intentment is to tender the amounts on or before December 31,
2013.
6. The petitions stand disposed of recording that without
prejudice to the rights and contentions of the land holders the
cheques tendered in each petition (being Annexure P-2) would
be treated as a tender to the Court of the learned Additional
District Judge Delhi as of today i.e. December 30, 2013.
7. The Registry is directed to remove the cheques annexed as
Annexure 2 and keep them in safe custody till reopening of the
Court. On the reopening the cheques shall be sent to the Court
of the concerned Additional District Judge Delhi...................”
8. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and find that the order
of the High Court cannot be sustained in law for two reasons. Firstly,
the respondent is a purchaser after the publication of notice under
4
Sections 4 and 6 of the Act and in fact after the award of the Land
Acquisition Collector. Therefore, for the reasons recorded in a separate
judgment delivered today in the matter of Delhi Development
Authority v. Godfrey Phillips (I) Ltd.
6
, subsequent purchaser is not
entitled to claim lapsing of the proceedings under the 2013 Act.
9. Secondly, the finding that compensation was not offered to the land
owners and therefore the deposit in the Court cannot be regarded as
payment of compensation is again not tenable in view of the judgment
in Manohar Lal wherein this Court held as under:
“202. Section 24(2) deals with the expression where
compensation has not been paid. It would mean that it has not
been tendered for payment under Section 31(1).
xxx xxx xxx
205. The word “paid” in Section 31(1) to the landowner cannot
include in its ambit the expression “deposited” in court. Deposit
cannot be said to be payment made to landowners. Deposit is on
being prevented from payment. However, in case there is a
tender of the amount that is to mean amount is made available
to the landowner that would be a discharge of the obligation to
make the payment and in that event such a person cannot be
penalised for the default in making the payment. In default to
deposit in court, the liability is to make the payment of interest
under Section 34 of the 1894 Act.
xxx xxx xxx
207. In our considered opinion, there is a breach of obligation to
deposit even if it is taken that amount to be deposited in the
Reference Court in exigencies being prevented from payment as
provided in Section 31(2). The default will not have the effect of
reopening the concluded proceedings. The legal position and
6 Civil Appeal No. 3073 of 2022
5
consequence which prevailed from 1893 till 2013 on failure to
deposit was only the liability for interest and all those
transactions were never sought to be invalidated by the
provisions contained in Section 24. It is only in the case where in
a pending proceeding for a period of five years or more, the
steps have not been taken for taking possession and for
payment of compensation, then there is a lapse under Section
24(2). In case amount has not been deposited with respect to
majority of landholdings, higher compensation has to follow.
Both lapse and higher compensation are qualified with the
condition of period of 5 years or more.
208. It was submitted that mere tender of amount is not
payment. The amount has to be actually paid. In our opinion,
when amount has been tendered, the obligation has been
fulfilled by the Collector. Landowners cannot be forced to receive
it. In case a person has not accepted the amount wants to take
the advantage of non-payment, though the amount has
remained (sic unpaid) due to his own act. It is not open to him to
contend that the amount has not been paid to him, as such,
there should be lapse of the proceedings. Even in a case when
offer for payment has been made but not deposited, liability to
pay amount along with interest subsist and if not deposited for
majority of holding, for that adequate provisions have been
given in the proviso also to Section 24(2). The scheme of the
2013 Act in Sections 77 and 80 is also the same as that provided
in Sections 31 and 34 of the 1894 Act.
xxx xxx xxx
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 non-deposit 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.
Non-deposit of compensation (in court) does not result in the
lapse of land acquisition proceedings. In case of non-deposit with
respect to the majority of holdings for five years or more,
compensation under the 2013 Act has to be paid to the
6
“landowners” as on the date of notification for land acquisition
under Section 4 of the 1894 Act.”
10. In view of above, and for the reasons recorded in a separate judgment
delivered today in Godfrey Phillips (I) Ltd., the order passed by the
High Court is not sustainable and therefore, the same is set aside. The
writ petition filed by the respondent stands dismissed.
11. The appeal is allowed.
.............................................J.
(HEMANT GUPTA)
.............................................J.
(V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN)
NEW DELHI;
MAY 06, 2022.
7

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