Patna High Court: Prabhat Kumar Jha, J., allowed the instant writ petition seeking to quash the entire proceeding of land acquisition and also to set aside notification under Section 4(i) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Contentions of the petitioners were such that their 30 acres of land was sought to be acquired for construction of buildings, workshops, hostels and staff quarters for Industrial Training Institute and notification under Section 4 of the Act was issued but the petitioners never received any notice in pursuance to the issuance of notification. The petitioners neither had any knowledge about preparation of award nor did they receive any single farthing as compensation.

It is further submitted that as per Section 11-A it is mandatory that award should be prepared within two years from the date of notification. Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 says that even an award under Section 11 has been made but if physical possession of the land has not been taken over or the compensation has not been paid, the said proceeding shall be deemed to have lapsed.

Counsel for the State submitted that preliminary notification under Section 4(1) of the Act was published and when no objection was received on behalf of land owners, thereafter, the declaration of acquisition of the land was made and a notice was issued to each of the land owners regarding intention of taking possession over the lands. Finally, the award was prepared and notice for the same was issued to the land owners. In spite of this none of the awardees appeared to receive payment on the date fixed and subsequently entire award money was deposited in the treasury. It is further submitted that thereafter physical possession of 30 acres acquired land was taken over under Section 16 of the Act and construction was made thereon.

The Court observed that at no point of time after preparation of the award, the notice was served on the landowners rather the respondent washed off his hands after preparing the award and without getting the service report of notice, deposited the compensation amount in the treasury instead of depositing the same in referral court. Hence, it was held that since the physical possession of the land has not been taken and the compensation has not been paid, the acquisition proceeding shall be deemed to have lapsed. The Court further directed that the appropriate Government, if pleases; shall initiate the proceeding acquisition afresh in accordance with the provisions of the Act. [Budhi Nath Jha v. State of Bihar,2020 SCC OnLine Pat 2682, decided on 17-02-2020]

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