calcutta high court

Calcutta High Court: In a writ petition alleging dispossession before the issuance of the Section 4(1) notification under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, resulting in a violation of petitioner’s property rights under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India, a single-judge bench comprising of Suvra Ghosh,* J., held that the petitioner is entitled to compensation, treating the case as a deemed acquisition, as the land was utilized without due process.

Brief Facts

In the instant matter, the petitioner claimed the ownership of 23 decimals of land in mouza- Uttar Latabari, under Police Station Kalchini in Jalpaiguri The land was utilized for the Uttar Latabari Water Supply Scheme without the petitioner’s consent, and she was dispossessed before the official notification under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. The petitioner preferred present petition alleging a violation of her right to property under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India and seeks compensation, solatium, and interest from the respondents.

Parties’ Contentions

The petitioner contended that the land was acquired and utilized by the State Government without due compensation, and the acquisition was complete by the year 2015. The petitioner emphasised her dispossessed status before the official notification, relying on documents submitted to the authorities in 2012.The petitioner drawn attention to the discrepancy in the quantum of land involved, citing records indicating 0.23 acres, while the petitioner claims ownership of 23 decimals.

The State argued that the petitioner’s land was not acquired, and she is not entitled to compensation due to her delayed approach to the authorities. The State emphasised the formation of a beneficiary committee, asserting that the petitioner’s land was earmarked for the Water Supply Scheme with her knowledge and consent.

Moot Point

  1. Whether the petitioner is entitled to compensation for the utilization of her land under the Uttar Latabari Water Supply Scheme?

  2. Whether the delay in the petitioner’s approach to the authorities affects her claim for compensation?

  3. Whether the formation of the beneficiary committee and its decision to provide the petitioner’s land for the scheme absolves the State from the obligation to pay compensation?

Court’s Assessment

The Court acknowledged the undisputed facts that the petitioner is the owner of 23 decimals of land, the Public Health Engineering Department utilized the land for the Water Supply Scheme, and no compensation has been paid.

The Court acknowledges the delay but relied on Vidya Devi v. State of H.P., (2020) 2 SCC 569 and Sukh Dutta Ratra v. State of H.P., (2022) 7 SCC 508, emphasising that delay cannot deprive an individual of legitimate claims arising from expropriation. The Court condoned the delay in approaching the authorities, citing the principle that delay and laches cannot be raised in a case of a continuing cause of action or where circumstances shock the judicial conscience.

The Court rejected the State respondents’ argument regarding the beneficiary committee’s role, highlighting the petitioner’s lack of involvement and emphasizes the State’s responsibility to compensate for land use. The Court emphasised that the right to property is a constitutional right under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India.

“It is trite law that the right to property is a human right in a welfare State and a constitutional right under Article 300-A of the Constitution. No person can be deprived of his property by anyone including the State except in accordance with procedure established by law. The authority in Vidya Devi (supra) says that in such case, the obligation to pay compensation, though not expressly included in Article 300 A, can be inferred in that Article.”

Relying on precedents, the Court deemed the petitioner’s case as one of deemed acquisition, directing the respondents to pay compensation at the present market rate along with all statutory benefits, including solatium and interest, within two months.

“…since the petitioner has been deprived of her property by the State without resorting to procedure prescribed by law, she is entitled to compensation for the same along with other statutory benefits including solatium, interest, etc., treating it as a case of deemed acquisition.”

Court’s Decision

The Court allowed the writ petition and directed the respondents to compensate the petitioner for the utilization of her land for the Uttar Latabari Water Supply Scheme, treating it as a case of deemed acquisition.

[Sucharita Roy v. State of W.B., 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 5086, order dated 14-12-2023]

*Judgment by Justice Suvra Ghosh

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Milan Bhattacharyya, Sr. Adv., Mr. Dilip Kumar Chatterjee, Mr. Mrinmoy Bhattacharyya, Counsel for the Petitioner

Mr. Soumitra Bandyopadhyay, Mr. Wasim Ahmed, Mr. Sk. Md. Masood, Mr. Parikshit Goswami, Counsel for the Respondent/State

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One comment

  • Based on some articles, i have been able to protect my cases, related to my property and of my father (deceased). Advocates representing and in collusion have already deprived us of our one agriculture land, by misuse of trust, while posted out of Maharashtra State. Have resigned and renewed my license in 2018. I have addressed the issue of change of record and on intervention of the District Judge-1 & Sessions Judge, record could be inspected, and discovered more fraud documents after documents not available earlier are brought on record. Tahsil Hinganghat, is a court where, some advocates (Racket) from Wardha District and Hinganghat, are in business of transferring land properties. Want to take advice from experienced advocate to solve the riddle. Please suggest.

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