Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In an interesting case regarding land acquisition by government of Assam for setting up a plastic park, the Division Bench of S. Abdul Nazeer* and Sanjiv Khanna had held,

“Once the award has been approved, compensation has been paid and possession of the land has been handed over to the Government, acquisition proceedings could not have been reopened, including by way of re-notification of the already acquired land under Section 4 of Land Acquisition Act, 1894.”

Assam Industrial Development Corporation Limited (AIDC) had filed this appeal against the order of Guwahati High Court for the determination of question, whether an award in respect of the first respondent’s land was approved by the Government on 05-03-2010 or the approval was for the estimate only?

Initial Proceedings for Acquisition

In order to set up a plastic park, the Government of Assam decided to acquire a portion of land belonging to the respondent situated at Gillapukri Tea Estate. The Government, in exercise of the power under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 issued a notification dated 04-08-2008, expressing its intention to acquire 1,166 biggas, 1katha, 14 lessas of land. The Deputy Commissioner and Collector, addressed a letter dated 30-01-2010 to the Government to seek approval of the award and the land acquisition to which the government addressed a letter dated 05-03-2010 to the Deputy Commissioner whereby approval, as sought was granted.

Initiation of Fresh Proceedings

The respondent contended that pursuant to the letter dated 05-03-2010 only the land acquisition estimate was approved and not the award. Therefore, the respondent contended, it led to lapsing of the proceedings and initiation of fresh acquisition proceedings on 21-07-2012 which culminated in approval of the award for the first time in 2014. On 04-01-2014, a fresh award was passed and the respondent argued that since the award under the fresh proceedings was approved and made after coming into force of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, he was entitled for compensation in terms of Section 24(1) (a) of the 2013 Act.

Analysis by Court

Award was approved by the government on 05-03-2010 and that the same had been paid within two years of declaration. Pursuant to the award, possession of the land was taken from the respondent by the acquiring authority and the land was then handed over to the appellant. The Bench observed that entire compensation had been paid to the respondent and as contended by government,

Need for an additional award arose only because some of the land owners of the land initially proposed to be acquired were left out in the original award that was approved on 05-03-2010.

Noticing that not only did the respondent receive compensation pursuant to the award, it in fact sought enhancement of the same vide its reassessment petition dated 05-05-2010 u/s 18 of the L.A. Act the Bench said, letters dated 21-07-2012 and 06-01-2014 could not have the effect of re-acquiring the land in question since it already stood vested in the State Government. A combined reading of letter dated 05-03-2010 with the preceding letter dated 30-01-2010 and the subsequent conduct of the parties, including the respondent, made it evident that the award stood approved on the said date.

In D. Hanumanth SA v. State of Karnataka, (2010) 10 SCC 656 , it was held, “if land already stands acquired by the Government and if the same stands vested in the Government there is no question of acquisition of such a land by issuing a second notification for the Government cannot acquire its own land”. Hence, considering the subsequent actions of the parties, viz. payment and receipt of compensation, handover of possession, seeking reassessment of the compensation and the fact that the plastic project for which the subject Land Acquisition was initiated had already been developed on the acquired land, the Bench held,

“Once the land stood vested in the State, it could not have been acquired again. Therefore, any issuance of fresh notification under Section 4 and 6 or even preparing of a fresh award by the State Government in respect of the first respondent’s land would be infructuous.”

In view of the above, the impugned order of the High Court was set aside.
[Assam Industrial Development Corp. Ltd. v. Gillapukri Tea Co. Ltd., 2021 SCC OnLine SC 44, decided on 28-01-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this story together 

*Justice SA Nazeer has penned this judgment 

Know Thy Judge | Justice S. Abdul Nazeer

Hot Off The PressNews

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves the acquisition of stake by Axis Bank Limited, Axis Capital Limited and Axis Securities Limited in Max Life Insurance Company Limited.

Axis Bank Limited provides services in retail banking, which includes retail lending and retail deposits, wholesale banking, payment solutions, wealth management, forex and remittance products, distribution of mutual fund schemes and distribution of insurance policies.

Axis Capital Limited is engaged in the business of providing focused and customized solutions in the areas of investment banking and institutional equities.

Axis Securities Limited is engaged in the business of broking, distribution of financial products and advisory services.

Max Life Insurance Company Limited is Life Insurance company registered with Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI). It is engaged in the business of providing life insurance and annuity products and investment plans in India.

The proposed combination approved by CCI relates to increase of shareholding in Max Life Insurance Company Limited (Target) to approximately 9.9% by Axis Bank Limited and acquisition of 2% and 1% shareholding in the Target by Axis Capital Limited and Axis Securities Limited respectively.

Detailed order of the CCI will follow.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 21-01-2021]

[Source: PIB]

Business NewsNews

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) received the following green channel combination filed under sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Competition Act, 2002 (Act) read with Regulations 5A of the Competition Commission of India (Procedure in regard to the transactions of business relating to combinations) Regulations, 2011 (Combination Regulations):

Acquisition by ROC Star Investment Trust (Acquirer/ROC) of the equity share capital of Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited (Star Health/Target) from Snowdrop Capital PTE Limited (Proposed Combination).

The notification relates to the acquisition of 2.39% of equity shares of Star Health by ROC Star Investment Trust (acting through its custodian Perpetual Corporate Trust Limited). Post the consummation of the Proposed Combination, ROC will have certain rights including non-control conferring veto rights in Star Health.

Acquirer is an investment vehicle managed by ROC Capital Pty Limited (“ROC Capital”), an Australian investment management company.

Target is licensed as a general insurer by the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India (IRDA) to carry on the business of general insurance. It is currently engaged in the business of health insurance and deals in personal accident, medi-claim as well as in overseas travel insurance.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 10-01-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Business NewsNews

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves the acquisition of stake in Future Supply Chain Solutions Limited (Future Supply) by Nippon Express (South Asia & Oceania) Pte. Ltd. (Nippon Express), under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002.

The proposed combination pertains to the acquisition by Nippon Express of approximately 22% of the total issued and paid-up share capital of Future Supply, on a fully diluted basis.

Nippon Express is a Singapore-based wholly-owned subsidiary of Nippon Express Co. Ltd., with operations over the South Asian and Oceania regions. It is a Japan-based global logistics company, which provides one-stop logistics services, which include, transport services, global supply chain management, warehouse and distribution services, etc.

Future Supply is a third-party supply chain and logistics service provider in India which offers automated and IT-enabled warehousing, distribution and other logistics solutions. These services include, (a) contract logistics; (b) express logistics; and (c) temperature-controlled logistics. The Target, inter alia, offers warehousing and distribution services and automated technology systems to cater to its customers’ supply chain needs. Additionally, it also provides international freight forwarding services by water routes and air routes.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 10-12-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Business NewsNews

Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves the acquisition by NV Investment Holdings LLC (“Acquirer”) in Future Coupons (Private) Limited (“FCL/Target”), under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002, today.

The proposed combination pertains to the acquisition by the Acquirer of approximately 49% of the voting and non-voting equity shares of the Target (“Proposed Combination”). The Proposed Combination consists of certain other constituent steps involving FCL, Future Corporate Resources Private Limited (“FCRPL”), and Future Retail Limited (“FRL”).

The Acquirer is globally engaged in the business of making investments in other companies. It is a direct subsidiary of, Inc. (“ACI”) and belongs to the Amazon group. ACI is the ultimate parent entity of the Amazon group.

FCRPL is engaged in the business of management consultancy services and trading in goods and services and also has investments in various Future Group of companies. FCL is principally engaged in marketing and distribution of corporate gift cards, loyalty cards and reward cards to corporate customers. FRL (and its subsidiaries) are active in the Indian retail market and currently operate multiple retail formats in hypermarkets, supermarkets and convenience stores under various brand names.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 28-11-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Business NewsNews

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves the acquisition of 4.94% shareholding in Suzuki Motor Corporation (SMC) by Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) and the acquisition of 0.24% shareholding in TMC by SMC.

The proposed combination relates to the acquisition of a minority shareholding of 4.94% in SMC by TMC, and the acquisition of a minority shareholding of approximately 0.24% by SMC in TMC.

TMC is a Japanese multinational automotive manufacturer. TMC also provides services in other fields such as housing, financial services, communications, marine and biotechnology, and afforestation. In India, TMC is engaged in the manufacturing and sale of automobiles through its subsidiary, Toyota Kirloskar Motor Private Limited, and in providing financial services through its subsidiary, Toyota Financial Services India. TMC is also engaged in the sale of commercial vehicles through its indirectly held joint venture, Hino Motors Sales India Private Limited.

SMC is a Japanese multinational corporation inter-alia engaged in the business of automobiles, motorcycles and outboard motors. In India, SMC is engaged in the manufacturing and sale of automobiles and two-wheelers through its subsidiaries viz. Maruti Suzuki India Limited, Suzuki Motor Gujarat Private Limited and Suzuki Motorcycle India Private Limited.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 26-11-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Sabina, J., dismissed the petition moved for dismissing the suit for partition qua the petitioner since no ground for interference was made out.

The petitioner filed a petition under Article 227 of the Constitution of India challenging the order passed by the trial court.

The respondents had filed a suit for partition and cancellation of sale deed, challenging the Will executed by Bardi Bai.  The petitioner moved an application before the trial court that the suit qua him be dismissed as he had purchased the property through registered sale deed from its owner Bardi Bai.

The said application was dismissed by the trial court vide the impugned order after they observed that it was yet to be determined as to whether the property purchased by the petitioner was the ancestral property of Bardi Bai or it was an acquired property.

The Court held that the said question was to be decided by the trial court after the parties led their evidence with respect to their pleas. The learned trial court had rightly dismissed the application moved by the petitioner. [Aamil Khan v. Shanti Bai, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 4023, decided on 14-10-2019]

Business NewsNews

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approves the acquisition of shareholdings in Mumbai International Airport Limited (“MIAL”) by Adani Properties Private Limited (“APPL”)from Bid Services Division (Mauritius) Limited (“BSDA”) and ACSA Global Limited (“ACSA”), under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002 (“Act”).

The proposed combination relates to acquisition of 23.5 percent equity stake of MIAL by APPL from BSDA and ACSA. APPL proposes to acquire 13.5 percent equity shares of MIAL from BSDA and 10 percent equity shares of MIAL from ACSA.

The acquirer i.e. APPL is a member of the Adani Group which is a diversified infrastructure conglomerate. APPL is engaged in let-out and/or leasing of immovable properties and wholesale trading of commodities. APPL has various subsidiaries, associates and joint venture companies/ entities, which are into real estate business, financial services, generation of power using renewable sources of energy and LPG terminal setup.

The target i.e. MIAL, a public company registered at Mumbai, is engaged in operating, maintaining, developing, designing, constructing, upgrading, modernising, financing and managing the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (“CSIA”) at Mumbai. Its services include activities incidental to air transportation such as operation of terminal, airway facilities, etc.

The Commission approved the proposed combination under Section 31(1) of the Act.

[Source: PIB]

[Press Release dt. 14-11-2019]

Case BriefsForeign Courts

Court of Appeal of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka: The Bench of A.L. Shiran Gooneratne and Mahinda Samayawardhena, JJ., dismissed the appeal in the matter of acquisition of prescriptive right to use by the respondent.

In the instant case, the respondent instituted proceedings under Section 66(1)(b) of the Primary Courts Procedure Act in the Magistrates Court of Walapane, against the appellant, claiming that the appellant had obstructed his right of way over the property owned by the appellant. The respondent had used the disputed roadway for over 20 years. The Magistrate held that the respondent has a right of way over the disputed land as his prescriptive right. The appellant filed a revision application to set aside the said order in the High Court of Nuwara-Eliya, where the learned High Court Judge had dismissed the said application. The appellant has moved to this court against the said order.

The contention of the respondent is that there were 3 alternate roads that can be used by the respondent to reach his land. The Magistrate having considered the said documents has come to a correct finding that the said documents in no way proved that the Respondent did not use a roadway over the land of the appellant or that the appellant used an alternate road. The respondent has been using the same road for the past 20 years.

The Court observed that a right of way could be acquired both on the grounds of prescription and on necessity. The Court stated that affidavits, filed of record, witness statements and the documents clearly establish that the respondent filed the present action to acquire prescriptive rights to the roadway which gives access to his land and it is on that basis, the Magistrate determined that the respondent has acquired the right of way by the prescriptive user. In view of the above, the Court dismissed the appeal as it did not find any irregularity with the impugned order. [Mahagamagedara Somarathna v. Thennakoon Mudiyanselage Rajanayaka, CA (PHC) 174/2014, decided on 01-11-2019]

Business NewsNews

CCI approves acquisition of 4.15% of the shareholding in Aditya Birla Capital Limited by Jomei Investments Ltd. of Combination under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) approved acquisition of 4.15% of the shareholding in Aditya Birla Capital Limited (ABCL) by Jomei Investments Limited (JIL).

JIL, a special purpose vehicle, is wholly-owned by Advent International GPE IX Limited Partnership, a fund managed by Advent International Corporation.

ABCL is the holding company for the financial services businesses of the Aditya Birla group. Through its subsidiaries and joint ventures, ABCL has presence across diverse businesses including, non-banking financial sector, asset management, life insurance, housing finance, health insurance, general insurance broking, wealth management, equity, currency and commodity broking, pension fund management and asset reconstruction businesses.

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

[Press Release dt. 24-10-2019]

[Source: PIB]

Business NewsNews

CCI approves the acquisition of a shareholding in GMR Airports Limited (“GAL”) by TRIL Urban Transport Private Limited (“TUTPL”), Valkyrie Investment Pte. Ltd. (“Valkyrie”) and Solis Capital (Singapore) Pte. Limited (“Solis”) under Section 31(1) of the Competition Act, 2002.

The proposed combination relates to the acquisition of up to 55.2% equity stake in GAL collectively by TUTPL, Valkyrie and Solis.

TUTPL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Realty and Infrastructure Limited (“TRIL”), which in-turn is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons Private Limited (“Tata Sons”). TUTPL is engaged in the development of urban transport and infrastructure facilities such as ropeways, metro rail transit system etc.

Valkyrie is a foreign venture capital investor (“FVCI”) registered with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) under the SEBI (Foreign Venture Capital Investors) Regulations, 2000 (“SEBI FVCI Regulations”). Valkyrie is a special purpose vehicle
organized as a private limited company in Singapore and is an affiliate of GIC Private Limited.

Solis is registered as an FVCI with SEBI under the SEBI FVCI Regulations. Solis is an investment vehicle of the SSG group and is advised by SSG Capital Management (Singapore) Pte. Ltd., which is regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore to undertake fund management activities.

GAL is registered with the RBI as a CIC-ND-SI and is an investment holding company. GAL, through its subsidiaries, is engaged in developing, managing and operating airports in India and around the world, while also being engaged in associated business activities.

The Commission approved the Proposed Combination subject to carryout of certain modifications proposed by TUTPL under Regulation 19 (2) of the Competition Commission of India (Procedure in regard to the transaction of business relating to combinations) Regulations, 2011.

Competition Commission of India

[Press Release dt. 01-10-2019]

Business NewsNews

The Competition Commission of India (Commission) has published the order approving the acquisition of electrical and automation (EA) business of Larsen & Toubro Limited (L&T) by Schneider Electric India Private Limited (Schneider) and MacRitchie Investments Pte. Ltd. (MacRitchie).

The approval is subject to modifications that are aimed at eliminating the likely anti-competitive effects of the proposed acquisition. The above order was a result of an in-depth inquiry undertaken pursuant to the notice given by Schneider and MacRitchie under sub-section (2) of Section 6 of the Competition Act, 2002 (Act) on 16-8-2018. The Commission found that Schneider and L&T are the first and second leading players in terms of sales and distribution reach in the low voltage (LV) switchgear industry in India. Their consolidation would inter alia lock a large part of the LV switchgear distributors and other downstream players with the combined entity, thereby making it difficult for new players to enter the market. Thus, the Commission was of the view that the acquisition of EA business of L&T would reduce competition and confer the combined entity, the ability to increase price.

In order to eliminate the competition concerns, the Commission has ordered the Acquirers to reserve a part of L&T’s installed capacity to offer white labelling services to third-party competitors. This facility would be available in respect of five high market share LV switchgears, which are generally used together in LV panels. Under the white labelling services, the third party competitors can take L&T products on a reasonable price for selling under their own brand, for a period of five years. Subsequently, these competitors can get access to the technology of white-labelled products to manufacture them, for the next five years. To open up their distribution network to competitors, Schneider would revise its commercial policies and remove de facto exclusivity in distribution agreements. Further, Schneider would not discontinue L&T products and not increase their average selling price, for a period of five years.

The remedies ordered by the Commission are expected to allow business expansion of competitors in the five white-labelled products thereby leverage their brand position in the overall LV switchgear business. The competitors could avail this opportunity to strengthen their portfolio of products, increase the viability of their own brand in a sustainable manner and become credible competitors.

[Press Release dt. 06-06-2019]

Ministry of Corporate Affairs

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: The Bench of Krishna S. Dixit, J., allowed petition filed by a senior citizen challenging wrongful usurpation of his property.

Respondent herein had unauthorizedly appropriated petitioner’s land measuring 63,162 square feet without any acquisition process, for the formation of roads, parks. Petitioner was given no compensation for his land even after 16 years of acquisition. Aggrieved thereby, he filed the instant petition seeking restoration of his land and compensation of Rs 5 crores for illegal utilization of his land.

Petitioner’s contention was that respondent’s act was a gross violation of his constitutional right to property guaranteed under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India.

The Court took note of respondent’s resolution proposing to give 50 percent of the site area to petitioner and observed that instead of taking steps for implementation thereof, respondent passed another resolution stating that in view of one government order, petitioner would be granted 50 percent of the developed area, which was unconscionable. The second resolution was also not given effect.

It was opined that the institution of private property is the focal point of constitutional jurisprudence. Forcible or non-consensual taking away of property by the State or its instrumentalities, sans lawful acquisition process offends the pith and substance of Article 300-A which guarantees protection to private property from State interference. It was held that State and its instrumentalities cannot justify usurpation of private property without legal process on the ground that the same was for public use.

In view of the above, the respondent was directed to give ownership and possession of the developed area of subject land to the petitioner and pay Rs 1 lakh as damages.[P.G. Beliappa v. Bangalore Development Authority, 2019 SCC OnLine Kar 187, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Bench of Sudhanshu Dhulia, J. accepted the application seeking bail where the applicant was a woman and had a 10-year-old daughter.

In the pertinent case the main allegation against the applicant was that she had entered into an agreement for sale with certain agriculturists whose land was under acquisition and as an implication was in conspiracy with public officials, knowing fully well in advance that a huge sum of money will go as a compensation, even though no prudent person would enter into an agreement for sale for a land which is under acquisition. Although the counsel for the applicant contended the land for which the agreement for sale was executed was not the same land, which was under acquisition. And the counsel for the State rebutted by distinguishing it on facts and argued that some of the land indeed was the area which was under acquisition.

The Court without going into the facts contended, granted bail to the applicant, considering the fact that she is a woman and has a 10-year old daughter, who needs to be looked after. Also, the fact that she was already in jail since 21-03-2018, the Court considered it to be a fit case to grant bail. [Priya Sharma v. State of Uttarakhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 138, Order dated 01-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: The Bench of Prabhat Kumar Jha, J. dismissed a civil writ petition claiming employment in lieu of acquisition of land on the ground that there was no policy of the Indian Railways for the same.

The instant petition sought a writ of mandamus directing the respondent to grant appointment to the petitioner in Group-C or Group-D post in the East Central Railway as per her educational qualification since her land had been acquired for construction of Neura Daniyama rail line.

The Court noted that petitioner was granted a compensation of Rs 5,26,687.92 after acquisition of her land. She never raised any objection or filed any petition before the concerned authority for providing her a job. Also, she had moved this court after long delay of more than ten years from the date of acquisition of her land without any plausible explanation. 

Reliance was placed on the judgment of Apex Court in Umesh Kumar Nagpal v. State of Haryana, (1994) 4 SCC 138 where it was held that petitioner has no fundamental right to claim job in lieu of acquisition of his land for the purpose of completion of project, besides compensation for acquisition of the land. Admittedly, there was no policy for providing employment to the landlord whose lands had been acquired for completion of the aforesaid rail line project. In view thereof, it was held that the petitioner could not claim employment in lieu of acquisition of her land as a matter of right.[Neera Devi v. Union of India, 2018 SCC OnLine Pat 2328, decided on 05-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: In the instant case where question was raised upon the legality of the acquisition of State Bank of Travancore (SBT) by the State Bank of India (SBI), the Division Bench of Navaniti Prasad Singh,C.J. and Antony Dominic, J. held that the law of meeting is well settled on points as to where the decision of the Board of Directors is to be taken, except otherwise provided, a majority decision would be considered the ultimate decision of the Board of Directors. The Court observed that since the dissent by the two directors as to the acquisition of SBT by SBI were in gross minority, therefore it would not vitiate the ultimate decision of the Board of Directors who were in the favour of the process of acquisition.

Petitioners in the instant case contended that the SBT was created by an Act of Parliament i.e. The State Bank of India (Subsidiary Banks) Act, 1959, thus, banking business of the SBT could not be taken over/ acquired by the SBI and only Parliament could have authorised such acquisition. However the Court rejected the argument stating that it is wrong to state and submit that the creation of the SBT under the 1959 Act meant that was a bank created by  Parliament. Moreover Section 35 of the State Bank of India Act, 1955 authorises SBI to acquire business of any other Banks subject to conditions laid down in the Act.

Perusing the facts of the case and relevant statutory provisions the Court observed that the SBT was created as subsidiary of the SBI under the SBI Act, 1955. It was further observed that reports regarding the acquisition were placed before the Board of Directors of both the Banks and the scheme was approved by the Central government which thereby leaves no room for the Court to interfere in the matter. Thus, on the basis of all the arguments, the Court was unable to find any merit in the writ petitions and dismissed it. [Save SBT Forum v. Union of India, 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 1257, decided on 23.03.2017]