Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Chakradhari Sharan, J. dismissed an application seeking initiation of fresh acquisition proceeding under Section 11 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

A certain land was acquired under the Bihar Land Acquisition Act, 1894 in the year 1979 and award was prepared in favour of landowners. Petitioner herein, who was the grandson of a landowner, stated that since the Land Acquisition Officer had not prepared any award and had simply made a roll or index of compensation amount on Form-15, the same could not be treated as a valid award.

His case was that since the government had failed to make an award within two years of declaration under Section 6 of the Bihar Land Acquisition Act, the title over land remained with the owner and by virtue of Section 11-A of the said Act, entire acquisition proceeding stood lapsed. Whereas the respondent submitted that land owners were asked to receive the compensation amount, but they did not turn up to receive the same.

The Court noted that acquisition proceeding had started in the year 1978-79 and all land owners were paid the amount of compensation in 1979 itself on the basis of the award so prepared. The amount payable to the petitioner’s grandfather and his co-sharers was deposited by the Collector on 20-01-1981. In nearly three decades, no objection was ever raised against regularity or otherwise of the acquisition proceeding. Further, Section 18 of the Bihar Land Acquisition Act permits a person to make an application to the Collector, requiring him to refer the matter for the determination of the Court. Petitioner’s grandfather never approached the Collector under the said section seeking reference of the matter to Court. Most of the land owners had accepted the award.

It was observed that petitioner’s raising of grievance after almost 30 years, did not appear to be bona fide. His vague statements to the effect that landholders, being layman, could not raise any claim had no credence.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant application was dismissed.[Alok Ranjan v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 465, decided on 10-04-2019]

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]