Delhi Development Authority Versus Batti & Ors.

Delhi Development Authority  Versus Batti & Ors. 

Landmark Cases of India / सुप्रीम कोर्ट के ऐतिहासिक फैसले

CIVIL APPEAL NO.____________ OF 2023
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) No.22803 of 2019)
Delhi Development Authority           …Appellant(s)
Batti & Ors.                            …Respondent(s)
CIVIL APPEAL NO.____________ OF 2023
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (C) D.No.30579 of 2021)
Government of NCT of  Delhi & Anr.          …Appellant(s)
Batti & Anr.                               …Respondent(s)
Rajesh Bindal, J.
1.       Leave granted. 
2. This order will dispose of two appeals arising out
of order dated 30.11.2017 passed by the Division Bench of
the High Court of Delhi in W.P(C) No. 12135/2015.   One
appeal is preferred by Delhi Development Authority whereas
the another has been filed by Government of NCT of Delhi.
3. The service on respondent is complete.  However,
no one appeared when the appeal was taken up for hearing.
4. The facts of the cases are available on record.
Vide notification dated 23.06.1989 issued under Section 4 of
the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (For short, ‘the Act’) large
chunk  of   the   land  measuring  about   3,500  Hectares  was
sought to be acquired for planned development of part of
Delhi.   It was followed by notification issued on June 20,
1990 under Section 6 of  the Act.   The Award bearing No.
13/92­93 was announced by the Land Acquisition Collector
(DS), Delhi on 19.06.1992.
5. It is evident from the facts noticed by the High
Court   in   the   impugned   order   that   husband   of   the
respondent late Mange Ram was son of late Harkesh.   He
was father­in­law of the respondent no.1­ writ petitioner.  He
was claimed to be the recorded owner of 1/12th  share [01
bigha   and   19   biswas   and   03   biswansi]   in   land   bearing
Khasra Nos. 281/4(10­11), 282/4 (10­3) and 80(2­8) total
area measuring 23 bighas and 2 biswas, situated in the
revenue estate of Village Ghari Mandu, Shahdara, Delhi.
6. There   is   nothing   on   record   to   suggest   the
acquisition   in   question   was   ever   challenged   by   the
predecessor­in­interest of respondent no.1.  The writ petition
came to be filed in the year 2015 referring to Section 24(2) of
the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (for
short “the 2013 Act”) claiming that the possession of land
having not been taken and the compensation not paid, the
acquisition has lapsed.
7. The   High   Court   noticed   the   fact   that   the
possession of the land had been taken by the State and
handed over to the Forest Department for development as
green belt, agriculture and water body as the land falls in ‘O’
Zone.  It was further pleaded that respondent no.1 was not
entitled to receive any compensation as the land, in fact,
vested in Gaon Sabha.
8. After considering the arguments raised by learned
counsel  appearing  for  the  parties,  the  High  Court,  while
relying upon the judgment of this Court in Pune Municipal
Corporation & Anr. vs. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki
&  Ors.  (2014)   3 SCC 183     held that the acquisition in
question has lapsed qua the land of the respondent no.1 as
the compensation therefor had not been tendered.  The issue
regarding entitlement of compensation to the respondent as
there was dispute regarding the title of the land, was kept
9. The   arguments   raised   by   learned   counsel
appearing   for   the   appellant   are   that   in   view   of   the
Constitution   Bench   judgment   of   this   Court   in  Indore
Development   Authority   vs.   Manoharlal   and   Others
(2020) 8 SCC 129 whereby earlier judgment of this Court in
Pune  Municipal  Corporation  &  Anr.’s  case   (supra) was
overruled the order passed by the High  Court is to be set
aside.     It   was   opined   by   the   Constitution   Bench   that
compliance to either of the two conditions i.e. taking over of
possession of the land or payment of compensation, is good
enough to sustain the acquisition.  In the case in hand, from
the facts admitted on record it is evident that the possession
of the land was taken after the acquisition was complete.
There   was   no   question   of   payment   of   compensation   to
predecessor in interest of the  respondent no.1 as admittedly
there was dispute regarding  title of the land.  The land is
recorded in the name of Gaon Sabha.  Even the High Court
in the impugned order had kept the question of title open.  
10. Heard learned counsel for the appellant. 
11.   There is no dispute on the fact that the judgment
of   this   Court   in  Pune   Municipal   Corporation   and
Another’s  case (supra), was relied upon by the High Court
to hold that the acquisition in question had lapsed. It was
overruled by the Constitution Bench judgment of this Court
in the Indore Development Authority’s case (supra).  Para
362 thereof is extracted below:
“362.  Resultantly, the decision rendered
in Pune Municipal Corporation & Anr. (supra)
is hereby overruled and all other decisions in
which   Pune   Municipal   Corporation   (supra)
has been followed, are also overruled.”
12. Various questions required to be considered by
the Constitution Bench were answered in para 366 of the
judgment. The same read as under: 
“366. In   view   of   the   aforesaid
discussion,   we   answer   the   questions   as
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.
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
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
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.”
13. A perusal of the impugned order passed by the
High Court shows that the Writ Petition was allowed relying
upon   the   judgement   of   this   Court   in  Pune   Municipal
Corporation and Another’s  case (supra).  The case set by
the writ petitioner was that late Harkesh was the recorded
owner of the land as noticed in para 2 of the judgment.  The
writ petitioner is his daughter­in­law.  Even the husband of
the writ petitioner had expired when the writ petition was
filed.     It   was   claimed   that   late   Harkesh   was   having
bhoomidari rights, however in terms of the stand taken by
the   appellant,   no   surviving   membership   was   placed   on
record.     Definite   and   undisputed   stand   taken   by   the
respondent before the High Court was that the possession of
the land was taken after the award was announced and the
same   was   handed   over   to   the   Forest   Department   for
development as green belt, agriculture and water body as
the land falls in ‘O’ Zone.  
14. Initially, the stand sought to be taken by the writ
petitioner   before   the   High   Court   was   that   the   physical
possession of the land had not been taken, however, the
same was given up.   The only argument pressed was that
the compensation be paid as per the provisions of the 2013
Act.     The   Writ   Petition   was   allowed   relying   upon   the
judgment of this Court in  Pune   Municipal   Corporation
and   Another’s  case   (supra).     The   High   Court   had   also
noticed the fact that there was dispute about title of the
property which as per the stand taken by both the parties
was kept open.   Meaning thereby, even the compensation
could not have been paid to the predecessor interest of the
respondent/ writ petitioner.  There is nothing on record to
suggest as to what action was taken by the person who
claimed interest in the property to seek compensation, in
case   land   owned   by   him   was   acquired   more   than   two
decades   back   and   no   compensation   paid.   The   litigation
started only with enactment of Act of 2013 
15. For   the   reasons   recorded   above,   the   present
appeal deserves to be allowed as the ingredients of Section
24(2) of 2013 Act as interpreted by this Court in  Indore
Development   Authority   vs.   Manoharlal   and   Others’s
case (supra) are not satisfied in the case in hand.   There
cannot be lapsing of acquisition of land.  
16. The   appeals   are,   accordingly,   allowed  and   the
impugned order passed by the High Court is set aside.  The
writ   petition   filed   by  the   respondents  in   the   High   Court
stands dismissed. 
                                                         [Abhay S. Oka]
     [Rajesh Bindal]
New Delhi 


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