Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: P.B. Suresh Kumar, J. while allowing a land acquisition appeal, set aside the impugned award and restored the Collector’s award.

Respondent’s land had been acquired for laying down of railway line pursuant to a notification issued in 1991 under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Respondent received compensation on the basis of land value fixed by the Land Acquisition Officer. Later, in a reference under Section 18 of the Act, the reference court enhanced the land value of another land covered by the same notification, but categorized differently. The respondent preferred an application for redetermination of the compensation granted to him in tune with the award of reference court. The Collector redetermined the compensation payable to respondent based on the land value fixed by the reference court. Nevertheless, the first respondent sought a reference under Section 28-A(3) of the Act as, according to him, the Collector ought to have granted the land value granted by reference court. The reference court enhanced and refixed the land value of the acquired land as prayed for by the first respondent. Aggrieved by the said order, the instant appeal was filed by the State.

The Court observed that the the Land Acquisition Officer had categorized lands notified for acquisition for the purpose of fixing land value; and the land held by the respondent was covered under a different category than the one in respect of which the reference court had passed an order. It was for the said reason that the Collector had made a proportionate reduction while awarding compensation to the respondent.

Thus, the Court upheld the Collector’s proportionate reduction in redetermining the compensation payable to the first respondent while setting aside the reference court’s modification of the Collector’s award. It was opined that the reference court cannot treat a land included by the Land Acquisition Officer in one category as one included in another category and redetermine the compensation on that basis as done in the instant case, as such powers, though available to Court under Section 18 of the Act, are not available to the Court in a reference under Section 28-A(3) of the Act.

While setting aside the impugned award and restoring the Collector’s award, the Court also observed that the object of Section 28-A(3) of the Act is to enable those who could not avail the remedy under Section 18 of the Act to obtain compensation for the lands acquired from them also.[Karunakaran Nair v. State of Kerala, LA App. No. 229 of 2016, decided on 20-03-2019]

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

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]