Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This petition was filed by petitioners before the Division Bench of Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ. praying for a direction to the respondent to decide the application of petitioner filed under Section 28-A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and to re-determine compensation sought to be given to the petitioner.

Facts of the case were such that a notification was issued under Section 4(1) of the Act, 1894 where an award was passed by the Special Land Acquisition Officer, Ghaziabad in respect of certain land parcels. Petitioner did not challenge the aforementioned award under Section 18 of the Act but the same was challenged by other persons which gave rise to land acquisition references decided by District Judge thereby re-determining the compensation amount. It was against this judgment that the first appeal was filed which was decided with the re-determined compensation amount. Under the decision in the first appeal, the petitioner filed an application under Section 28-A of the Act to claim the benefit of the re-determined compensation. This application was rejected.

The question before Court was to decide if the application was time-barred under Section 28-A of the Act which mentioned about re-determination of the amount of compensation on the basis of the award of the Court within 3 months of its decision. Thereby leading to the second question from which Court’s decision the time period was to be calculated i.e. Reference Court or High Court first appeal. 

Krishna Mishra, learned counsel on behalf of petitioners, submitted that the time period for claiming the benefit of re-determined compensation amount was to begin after the decision in the first appeal and since their application was within that time period the application was validly made. Suresh Singh learned Addl. Chief Standing Counsel appearing on behalf of State respondents, submitted that the limitation period to file application was to be taken from the date of the award made by Reference Court which means that petitioner’s application was time-barred.

Under the Act, Court was defined to mean a principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction. Catena of cases were referred to concluding that limitation period should be computed from the date of award of Reference Court on basis of which re-determination was sought and not from the appeal which was filed against the award. Accordingly, the application thus filed was beyond the time period of 3 months if computed from the award of Reference Court. Further, proviso of the Section did not state any other reason for the extension of the time period than to obtain a copy of award.

High Court on the discussion above was of the view that petitioners could not have claimed the benefit of re-determined compensation as their application was time-barred. The application was to be filed within 3 months of the award passed by Reference Court and not after the decision of High Court in first appeal. Therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Tejpal Singh v. State of U.P., Writ C No. 7218 of 2019, Order dated 08-03-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: The Bench of S. Panda and P. Patnaik, JJ., dismissed a petition filed by the petitioner for the cancellation of the lease executed in favour of the Notified Area Council by the IDCO and to restore possession of his acquired land in his favour.

The brief facts of the case were that the land of the petitioner was acquired by the State Government under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the establishment of a paper mill industry. Compensation was awarded. However, the Paper Mill Company had not taken any step for the establishment of the paper mill. This was the contention of the petitioner. The opposite party contended that after acquisition due compensation was paid as per the provision of the Land Acquisition Act. It was further stated that the land was acquired for a public purpose.

The Court held that once the possession of the land is taken under the provisions of the Act, it vests in the State free from all encumbrances, whatsoever, it cannot be divested. The land so acquired cannot be restored to the tenure holder/person interested even if it is not used for the purpose it was acquired or for any other purpose. After the acquisition of land, it could be put to use for the purposes other than for what it was originally declared. The new owners have the ordinary rights of proprietors and may use the land as it thinks fit for any purpose. It is not the concern of the landowner as how his land is used and whether the land is being used for the purpose which it was acquired for. The writ petition was thus dismissed. [Kapila Majhi v. State, 2019 SCC OnLine Ori 181, Order dated 18-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: This writ petition was filed before a Divison Bench of Pankaj Kumar Jaiswal and Dr Yogendra Kumar Srivastava, JJ., for issuance of direction to respondent to consider the claim of petitioners for providing compensation in lieu of acquisition of plot situated in Village Pratap Patti District Varanasi in accordance with the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 along with interest and other consequential benefits.

Repondent submitted that petitioner on an earlier occasion filed a writ petition which was dismissed by the Court. Both the instant and earlier writ petitions were seeking similar reliefs which was dismissed and instant petition being filed with same cause of action could not have been entertained as the underlying principle under Order 23 Rule 1 of the Civil Procedure Code.

Catena of cases were referred to for understanding the settled principle that though the Code does not apply to writ proceedings but it may be extended to the same in the interest of administration of justice. Allahabad High Court Rules, 1952 were mentioned wherein Rule 7 of Chapter 22 specifically barred filing of a second application under Article 226 on the same facts.

High Court noted the specific bar in the aforementioned rule of the High Court Rules, 1952 and relied on the case of Forward Construction Co. v. Prabhat Mandal, (1986) 1 SCC 100 where it was held that the order dismissing the first writ petition operates as res judicata between the parties and the person against whom the order has been passed has got no right to file a second petition on the same set of facts and in light of the underlying principle in Civil Procedure Code which were founded on public policy, no second writ application could have been filed. Therefore, this writ petition was dismissed. [Pawan Kumar Singh v. State of U.P., 2019 SCC OnLine All 1777, order dated 13-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Punjab and Haryana High Court: This writ petition was filed before the Bench of G.S. Sandhawalia, J., against the award passed by the Arbitrator under the Railway (Amendment) Act, 2008, whereby the market value had been fixed for the land acquired for the Dedicated Freight Corridor Project.

The dispute was with regard to the Arbitrator’s action where he modified the initial award passed to enhance the compensation. Thus, landowners approached this Court for further enhancement of the compensation. Respondent contended that the arbitral award should have been challenged under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 which is a statutory remedy available with petitioner.

High Court was of the view that the landowners who approached Court were similarly situated to landowners who had already approached the District Judge. The only feasible argument for the landowners was to point out the delay caused and difficulty in filing objections under Section 34 of the Act. Court opined that Section 14 of the Limitation Act should also be considered. Case of Narendra Singh v. State of U.P., 2017 (9) SCC 426 was referred to where with respect to Section 28-A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 Court had held that it was not an adversarial form of adjudication and fair compensation was to be determined for all landowners whose land was taken away by the same notification. Thus, landowner’s apprehension was without any basis; therefore, this petition was dismissed. [Satbir v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 132, decided on 13-02-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Karnataka High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Krishna S. Dixit, J. while hearing a civil writ petition, quashed Reference Court’s order under Land Acquisition Act, 1894 enhancing compensation payable to land owners without affording a hearing to the beneficiary of acquisition.

Petitioner, a beneficiary of land acquisition, challenged the judgment and award made by Reference Court whereby compensation paid to land owners was enhanced without hearing the petitioner. Respondent resisted this petition on the ground that petitioner had an alternate and equally efficacious remedy of statutory appeal and therefore it should be relegated to the same.

The questions to be determined were: (i) whether a beneficiary of land acquisition is entitled to hearing by Reference Court, regardless of him being party to the proceedings or not; and (ii) maintainability of a writ petition against an order of Reference Court in the presence of alternate remedy of statutory appeal under Section 54 of the Act.

The Court opined that as per Section 20(2)(c) of the Karnataka Amendment to the Act, a Reference Court is obliged to hear the beneficiary of acquisition. The same was also a necessary requirement of the principles of natural justice.

In relation to the second question, relying on the dictum of Apex Court in Neyvely Lignite Corporation Limited v. Special Tahsildar (Land Acquisition) Neyvely, (1995) 1 SCC 221 it was held that in a proceeding seeking enhancement of compensation, if the land owner has not taken steps to implead beneficiary, then in such a case it was just and necessary that the Reference Court impleads beneficiary of acquisition. This would avoid multiplicity of proceedings in the form of writ petitions and statutory appeals.

In view of the above, the petition was partly allowed and the matter was remanded to Reference Court for fresh consideration after hearing the beneficiaries.[Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board v. Byregowda, WP No. 55485 of 2017, Order dated 20-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Single Judge Bench of Shree Chandrashekhar, J., dismissed writ petitions filed against the order of the trial judge, whereby petitioner’s application under Section 47 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, was dismissed.

The main issue that arose before the Court was whether the executing court has powers to decide rival claims for apportionment of the award after the award has attained finality.

The Court observed that the CPC in its substantive part is not made applicable to the proceedings under the Land Acquisition Act. The Court referred to the Supreme Court judgment of Ambey Devi v. State of Bihar, (1996) 9 SCC 84 wherein it was observed that the scheme of the Land Acquisition Act is inconsistent with the CPC; the Code provides only the procedural format to adjudicate the dispute. The Court further referred to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Kothamasu Kanakarathamma v. State of A.P., AIR 1965 SC 304, wherein it was held that the jurisdiction of the court arises only when a reference is made to it by the Collector under Section 18 or Section 30 of the Land Acquisition Act. Further, the court to which reference is made by the collector, cannot go beyond the point of reference by assuming jurisdiction.

The Court held that if a person like petitioneris allowed to raise dispute with regard to apportionment of the award in execution stage then it would enable the Land Acquisition Officer to reopen a final award as against Section 12 of the Land Acquisition Act. An award can only be reopened by the court if an application is made to it under Section 18 of the Act by the collector or if it is challenged under the provisions of Section 54 of the Act. A decision is an authority for what it actually decides. The Court concluded by holding that Section 47 of CPC does not contemplate an enquiry into the disputed questions of title nor can a claim such as the one raised by the petitioner can be adjudicated under it. Claims for partition cannot be entertained by the executing court. Resultantly, the writ petitions were dismissed by the Court. [Shankar Choudhary v. State of Jharkhand,2018 SCC OnLine Jhar 1221, order dated 13-09-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Single Judge Bench of the Court comprising Shalini Phansalkar Joshi, J. held that a trial court can review its own award to bring it in tune with the amended provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1984.

The petitioners had stated that the trial court has no authority to review its own award and that the interest awarded to the respondent is incorrect since it has been awarded on the whole amount of compensation. The petitioner contended that the enhanced rate of interest could be payable only on the amount of compensation awarded by the Court in excess of the compensation awarded and paid by the Collector, as per the award passed by the Special Land Acquisition Officer.

The Court held that the trial court had not exceeded its jurisdiction or acted after having seized to have jurisdiction and hence no fault can be found with the impugned order passed on the review application of the respondents. The Court also stated that the legislature, acting through its wisdom, had allowed the retrospective application of the amended provisions to all the proceedings pending on 30th April, 1982 in which no award has been made as in the present case. Therefore, the order of the trial court to increase the rate of interest from 6% per annum to 9% per annum and to 15% for any amount pending after one year under Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1984 is correct and the appeal holds no merit; hence, stands dismissed. [State of Maharashtra v. Pandu Rama Udar, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 766, decided on 09-05-2017]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: Recently, an issue arose before the Court as to whether a person interested, who has not accepted the award made under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and has filed an application before the Collector under Section 18 of the Act, can file an application under Section 28-A of the Act for redetermination of the amount of compensation. The Additional District Magistrate answered it in negative stating that the remedy under Section 18 of the Act had earlier been invoked by the predecessor in interest of the petitioners by filing a reference application.

Counsel for the petitioner contended that Section 28-A of the Act does not contemplate that if a reference application is filed under Section 18 of the Act, a tenure holder cannot invoke the provisions of Section 28-A of the Act and submitted that the first appeal by his predecessor was not decided on merits, but was dismissed under O VII, R 11 of CPC. The counsel for respondent supported the view adopted by ADM.

On hearing both the parties, the Court discussed the relevant provisions highlighting that the award is made by the Collector under Section 11 of the Act. Section 18 provides that any person interested who has not accepted the award may, by written application to the Collector, require that the matter may be referred by the Collector for the determination of the amount of compensation by the Court and Section 28-A of the Act deals with re-determination of the amount of compensation on the basis of the award of the Reference Court.

The Division Bench referred to Scheduled Castes Co-operative Land Owning Society Limited, Bhatinda v. Union of India, (1991) 1 SCC 174 in which the Supreme Court had held that Section 28-A of the Act applies only to those claimants who had failed to seek a reference under Section 18 of the Act and would, therefore, not apply to a case where the claimant had sought and secured a reference under Section 18 of the Act. The Court held that there was no illegality in the order passed by the ADM in rejecting the application filed by the petitioners under Section 28-A of the Act as the same is not maintainable. [Dheer Singh v. State of UP, 2017 SCC OnLine All 596 , decided on 20.02.2017]