Land Acquisition| In public purpose schemes, Authority should be given the time allotted to it by the Statute for doing certain things: Supreme Court

Supreme Court: In appeals filed by the Indore Development Authority against the judgment and order passed by the Madhya Pradesh High Court, wherein the Court has dismissed the said appeals, confirming the common judgment and order passed by the Single Judge, whereby the Single Judge allowed the respective writ petitions against finalisation of Scheme No. 97(a residential scheme providing for other connected land uses) under Section 50 of the Madhya Pradesh Nagar Tatha Gram Nivesh Adhiniyam, 1973 (‘Adhiniyam’) and the subsequent land acquisition proceedings undertaken by the State of Madhya Pradesh under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (‘Act, 1894’), the division bench of M.R. Shah* and B.V. Nagarathna, JJ. set aside the impugned judgment and order declaring Scheme No. 97 as having lapsed under Section 54 of the Adhiniyam.

The issue in this case was whether the High Court is justified in quashing the entire Scheme No. 97 on the ground that the same has lapsed under section 54 of the Adhiniyam?

The Court after examining the Adhiniyam , said that as per Section 54, if the Town and Country Development Authority fails to commence implementation of the Town Development Scheme within the period stipulated in Section 54 of the Adhiniyam, the Scheme shall lapse. Therefore, the words “commence implementation” are vital and important words which are required to be considered and interpreted.

The Court noted that as per Section 56 of the Adhiniyam, within three years the Development Authority was required to proceed to acquire by agreement the land required for the implementation of the scheme and only thereafter and on its failure so to acquire, the State Government may, at the request of the Development Authority, proceed to acquire such land.

The Court took note of Sanjai Gandhi Grah Nirman Sahkari Sanstha Maryadit v. State of M.P., 1990 SCC OnLine MP 115, wherein the Court while interpreting the words “implementation of the scheme” and the word “implementation” occurring in Section 54 of the Adhiniyam, held that the word “implementation” occurring in section 54 cannot be construed to mean that even after substantial steps have been taken by the authority towards the implementation of the scheme, the scheme shall lapse after the expiry of three years because of its non-completion within that period. The Court agreed with this observation.

Further, it referred to Rule 19 of the M.P. Nagar Tatha Gran Nivesh Niyam, 1975 read with Section 56 of the Adhiniyam , and said that when the Statute provides certain things to be done within the stipulated time mentioned in the Act, the Authority is to be given such time, more particularly while dealing with the scheme which has been framed for the entire area and for the public purpose.

The Court while considering that within three years various steps were taken for implementation of the scheme including the steps to acquire the land by negotiations and even thereafter on failure to acquire the land by negotiations, the development authority has approached the State Government to acquire the land under the Land Acquisition Act, this it held that the High Court has erred in declaring that the scheme has lapsed under section 54 of the Adhiniyam, as it has adopted a narrow meaning while interpreting the said Section.

The Court considering the issue of quashing and setting aside the entire acquisition proceedings including sections 4 and 6 notifications issued under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act with respect to the lands in question, on the ground that there was no proper delegation of power to the Collector regarding Section 5-A of the Act, held that merely because Section 5A has not been mentioned in the said order, the entire acquisition proceedings including notifications under Sections 4 and 6 of the Act, 1894 and more particularly the declaration which was issued after considering the report or objections under Section 5-A cannot be declared illegal.

Placing reliance on Adarsh Nagar Grih Nirman Sahkari Sansthan Maryadit, Bhopal v. State of M.P., 2003 SCC OnLine MP 329, held that when the Collector has exercised the power of the appropriate government and a declaration under Section 6 of the Act has been issued after considering the report on the objections under Section 5-A of the Act, the High Court has seriously erred in quashing and setting aside the entire acquisition proceedings on the aforesaid ground.

Further, the Court concerning the third ground on which the scheme and the entire acquisition proceedings have been set aside, namely, the huge and big chunk of land out of the total land sought to be acquired by the Development Authority which has been released, is concerned, said that the release of the land was not arbitrary and not with an object of undue favour to those persons whose lands have been released. Thus, the third ground on which the scheme and the entire acquisition proceedings have been quashed by the High Court does not stand on its legs and is unsustainable.

[Indore Development Authority v. Burhani Grih Nirman Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit Sneh Nagar, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 232, decided on 03-03-2023]

*Judgment by: Justice MR Shah.

Know Thy Judge | Justice M. R. Shah

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