Calcutta High Court: In a consolidated writ petitions challenging the Collector, Land Acquisition’s order denying enhanced compensation to the petitioners based on a tribunal’s order, a single-judge bench comprising of Suvra Ghosh,* J., upheld the principle of parity among co-owners in land acquisition cases and directed the Land Acquisition Collector, Howrah, to comply with the tribunal’s order within two months.
The instant matter involves three writ petitions consolidated due to similar issues, where the petitioners challenged the order passed by the Collector, Land Acquisition, Howrah on 29-07-2022, seeking parity with other co-owners who received enhanced compensation. The disputed plots were requisitioned for a godown under the Defence of India Act, 1939, and later governed by the West Bengal Requisition Land (Continuance of Powers) Act, 1951. After legal proceedings, some co-owners received enhanced compensation, including 12% per annum, based on a tribunal’s order, however, the petitioners were denied this compensation, leading to the writ petitions. The main issue in the matter is whether the petitioners are entitled to parity with other co-owners regarding enhanced compensation and the Collector is bound to execute the tribunal’s order in favor of the petitioners.
The Court examined the circumstances and found the petitioners to be co-owners of the same acquired plots covered by the same land acquisition case as other compensated co-owners. The Court noted that despite not all petitioners being parties to earlier litigations, they shared the same interest and were entitled to the benefits awarded to other co-owners. While citing A. Viswanatha Pillai v. Tahsildar (LA), (1991) 4 SCC 17, the Court held that dissatisfaction expressed by one co-owner regarding compensation implies action on behalf of all co-owners. The Court upheld its earlier order stating that the petitioners stand on the same footing as compensated co-owners and are entitled to reap the same benefits.
The Court emphasised that the Collector’s refusal to disburse 12% per annum is not legally tenable, given the previous orders and the nature of the compensation determined by the tribunal. The Collector, being an executing authority, was obligated to execute the tribunal’s order per the directions given by the Court. Moreover, since the Court had inferred the petitioners’ status similar to other co-owners, there was no scope for re-evaluation by the Collector.
The Court allowed the writ petitions and set aside the impugned order by the Land Acquisition Collector, Howrah. The Court directed the Land Acquisition Collector, Howrah to comply with the tribunal’s order within two months. No costs are awarded.
[Anindya Das v. State of W.B., 2024 SCC OnLine Cal 1364, order dated 09-02-2024]
*Judgment by Justice Suvra Ghosh
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Mr. Udayan Ray, Mr. Debabrata Ray, Counsel for the Petitioners
Mr. Chandi Charan De, Mr. Anirban Sarkar, Counsel for the Respondent/State