calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: In an appeal challenging an order denying the appellant’s claim for compensation related to scheduled lands sought to be acquired by the National Highway Authorities, a division bench comprising of Debangsu Basak and Md. Shabbar Rashidi,* JJ., affirmed the impugned order denying the appellant’s claim for compensation. The Court held that the acquisition of the lands had been valid, and the subsequent purchase did not grant the appellant the authority to challenge the acquisition. The Court further held that subsequent notifications had no impact on the earlier acquisition.

Factual Matrix

In the instant matter, the scheduled lands in question were previously acquired by the State in a proceeding concluded in 1965. These lands remained in possession of the predecessors of the appellant even after the 1965 acquisition.

The appellant subsequently purchased the lands from the previous owners through registered deeds of conveyance. His name was duly recorded in revenue records, supported by a certificate of mutation. However, there was a dispute regarding the recording of the appellant’s name in the Land Reforms and Tenancy Tribunal records, which was still pending.

In 2012, the National Highway Authority (‘respondent’) initiated a fresh acquisition proceeding for the same lands. The respondent offered compensation for the structures on the lands but not for the lands, leading the appellant to file a petition. The trial court dismissed the petition, rejecting the contentions that no compensation was paid to the landowners and that the State had not lawfully taken possession of the acquired lands.

Aggrieved by the impugned order dated 16-01-2020, which denied the appellant’s claim for compensation, the appellant preferred the present appeal before the High Court challenging the same.

Moot Point

  1. Whether the lands in question were validly acquired by the State in the 1965 proceeding, and if so, whether the subsequent purchase by the appellant conferred any right to challenge the acquisition?

  2. Whether the National Highway Authority’s notice operated as a cancellation of the earlier acquisition?


The appellant contended that the State had never acquired possession of the lands and that subsequent notifications indicated a change in the requirement for the acquired lands.

The State contended that the lands were acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and compensation was duly paid to the previous owner in 1976. It was contended that the acquisition had attained finality and the appellant, as a subsequent purchaser, had no authority to challenge it.

Legal Principles:

  • Once land is acquired and vests in the State free from encumbrances, it cannot be divested, regardless of its use.

  • The acquisition proceeding does not lapse even if an award is not made within the stipulated period.

  • Notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 serves as notice to the public of the land’s need for a public purpose and prohibits any further encumbrance on the land.

Court’s Assessment

The Court observed that the documents presented indicated that the land was acquired for industrial purposes. Notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, was issued, followed by a declaration under Section 6 for approximately 449.33 acres of land, with possession transferred to the Asansol Durgapur Development Authority.

The appellant contested that the State never acquired possession of the land from the landowners, but the Court noted that the appellant and their immediate predecessor-in-interest purchased the land in 2009, after the acquisition under proceeding No. 01 of 1965-66. Therefore, the appellant lacked the authority to challenge actions taken during the tenure of their predecessors-in-interest.

The Court emphasized that the appellant could not challenge the validity of the acquisition proceeding, which had already been settled and that no evidence existed to show that the previous owners had objected to the acquisition.

The Court relied on the Supreme Court judgment in Lt. Governor of H.P. v. Avinash Sharma, (1970) 2 SCC 149, and reiterated that once land vested in the State, it could not be divested, even if not used for the intended purpose.

Further, while referring to V. Chadrasekaran v. Administrative Officer, (2012) 12 SCC 133, the Court upheld the principle that once land vested in the State, the landowner’s rights were limited to receiving compensation unless the acquisition proceeding itself was challenged.

In the case at hand, the appellant’s claim of subsequent notifications cancelling the earlier acquisition was rejected, as the land had already been vested in the State. Based on the facts and legal principles, the Court held that the appellant had failed to establish that the State did not acquire possession of the land or that no compensation was paid during the 1965 acquisition. The appellant also lacked the authority to challenge the proceeding.

Court’s Decision

The Court affirmed the impugned order denying the appellant’s claim for compensation and dismissed the present appeal without costs.

[Bhim Sen Mondal v. Competent Authority under the National Highways Act, 1956, 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 3114, order dated 27-09-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Md. Shabbar Rashidi

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Soumya Majumdar, Mr. Arijit Dey, Counsel for the Appellant;

Mr. Sayantan Bose, Mr. Shreyaan Bhattacharyya, Counsel for the Respondent 3;

Mr. Dipankar Das, Counsel for the NHAI.

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