Union of India & Anr. Versus Subhash Chander Sehgal & Ors.

Union of India & Anr. Vs Subhash Chander Sehgal & Ors. 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले



REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5439 OF 2022
Union of India & Anr.          ..Appellants 
Versus
Subhash Chander Sehgal & Ors.          Respondents
J U D G M E N T 
M. R. Shah, J.
1. Feeling   aggrieved   and   dissatisfied   with   the   impugned
judgment and order dated 01.03.2016 passed by the High Court
of   Delhi   at   New   Delhi   in   Writ   Petition   (C)   No.1648   of   2015
whereby   the   High   Court   has   declared   that   the   acquisition
proceedings with respect to the subject land had lapsed in terms
of   Section   24(2)   of   the   Right   to   Fair   Compensation   and
Transparency   in   Land   Acquisition,   Rehabilitation   and
Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act 2013’),
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the   Union   of   India   through   Land   Acquisition   Collector   and
Another have preferred the present appeal.
2. We   have   heard   Ms.   Sujeeta   Srivastava,   learned   counsel
appearing on behalf of the appellants and Mr. S.K. Rout, learned
counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent nos. 1 to 4.
3. The   undisputed   facts   are   that   in   the   present   case,   the
possession of the land in question was already taken over by the
appropriate authority in the year 1987.   It is also an admitted
position that the subject land has been utilized way back in the
year   1987   for   a   park   by   East   Delhi   Municipal   Corporation.
However, despite the above and relying upon the decisions of this
Court in the case of Pune Municipal Corporation and another
versus  Harakchand  Misirimal  Solanki  and  others  reported in
(2014)   3   SCC   183  and  Sree   Balaji   Nagar   Residential
Association vs.  State of Tamil  Nadu,   (2015)  3  SCC  353,  the
High   Court   has   declared   that   the   acquisition   proceedings   in
respect of the subject land had lapsed in terms of Section 24(2) of
the Act, 2013.
3.1 In   a   subsequent   decision,   a   Constitution   Bench   of   this
Court   in   the   case   of  Indore   Development   Authority   versus
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Manoharlal and others, (2020) 8 SCC 129 has specifically overruled the decisions of this Court in the case of Pune Municipal
Corporation   (supra)   and   Sree   Balaji   Nagar   Residential
Association (supra).  In paragraph 366 it is observed and held as
under:
“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
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been   paid,   possession   has   not  been   taken   then
there is no lapse.
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.
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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 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.”
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3.2 In   such   a   situation   no   relief   of   lapse   of   acquisition
proceedings can be countenanced in this case in view of the law
laid down by this Court in the case of  Indore   Development
Authority   (supra).   Once   it   is   held   that   there   is   no   lapse   of
acquisition proceedings under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act, the
land which has stood vested with the appellant continues to do.
Also, there is no question of payment of any compensation to the
writ petitioners in respect of the suit land as per the Act, 2013.
However, the original writ petitioners shall be entitled to
compensation   under   the   Land   Acquisition   Act,   1894   as   per
Award No.102/1986­87 dated 19.09.1986 as referred to by the
High Court in para 3 of the impugned judgment and order or in
the   event   any   enhancement   is   sought   by   the   original   writ
petitioners in accordance with law.
3.3 In view of the above and for the reason stated above, the
impugned   judgment   and   order   passed   by   the   High   Court
declaring   that   the   acquisition   proceedings   in   respect   of   the
subject land has lapsed in terms of Section 24(2) of the Right to
Fair   Compensation   and   Transparency   in   Land   Acquisition,
Rehabilitation   and   Resettlement   Act,   2013   and   directing   the
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authorities to pay the compensation to the writ petitioners in
respect of the suit land as per Act 2013 deserves to be quashed
and   set   aside   and   is   accordingly   quashed   and   set   aside.
Consequently, the writ petition filed by the private respondents
before the High Court stands dismissed.
Present Appeal is accordingly allowed.  However, in the facts
and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to
costs. 
…………………………………J.
                (M. R. SHAH)
…………………………………J.
 (B.V. NAGARATHNA)
New Delhi, 
August 22, 2022.
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