P&H HC | S. 28-A of Land Acquisition Act not an adversarial form of adjudication; fair compensation to be determined for all landowners

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This writ petition was filed before the Bench of G.S. Sandhawalia, J., against the award passed by the Arbitrator under the Railway (Amendment) Act, 2008, whereby the market value had been fixed for the land acquired for the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project.

The dispute was with regard to the Arbitrator’s action where he modified the initial award passed to enhance the compensation. Thus, landowners approached this Court for further enhancement of the compensation. Respondent contended that the arbitral award should have been challenged under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which is a statutory remedy available with petitioner.

High Court was of the view that the landowners who approached Court were similarly situated to landowners who had already approached the District Judge. The only feasible argument for the landowners was to point out the delay caused and difficulty in filing objections under Section 34 of the Act. Court opined that Section 14 of the Limitation Act should also be considered. Case of Narendra Singh v. State of U.P., 2017 (9) SCC 426 was referred to where with respect to Section 28-A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 Court had held that it was not an adversarial form of adjudication and fair compensation was to be determined for all landowners whose land was taken away by the same notification. Thus, landowner’s apprehension was without any basis; therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Satbir v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 132, decided on 13-02-2019]

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