In a rare land compensation ruling, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has drastically reduced the amount that farmers were to receive from the Haryana government for 142.38 acres acquired in 1979 for development of a residential area in Hisar.
Farmers will now receive Rs 77.52 lakh at the rate of Rs 11.25 per square yard instead of Rs 24.53 crore decided at the rate of Rs 365 per square yard — a reduction of Rs 23.76 crore in compensation for land acquired in Sector 15-A of Hisar.
Ruling on August 27 on an appeal filed by the Haryana government, Justice Rajesh Bindal dismissed 23 appeals filed by landowner Karam Devi and others who had sought enhancement of compensation from Rs 356 per square yard. The judge said the Hisar reference court had erred while revising the compensation rate.
Land was acquired by the state government on on May 15, 1979 through a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for a residential area in Sector 15-A. The land acquisition collector issued an order on June 11, 1981 to categorise three blocks, awarding Rs 9, Rs 8 and Rs 6 per square yard, as compensation. Aggrieved by the collector’s decision, landowners filed objections and these were referred to the Hisar reference court.
In 1986, the reference court fixed Rs 11.25 per square yard for all three categories as the fair value of the acquired land. This prompted the landowners to move the High Court the same year.
In 1988, a single-judge bench disposed the petitions, enhancing the compensation for the land at the rate of Rs 23 per square yard. Both the landowners and the state government appealed filed appeals. In 1989, a division bench of the High Court upheld the order for compensation at the rate of Rs 23 per square yard.
The landowners and Haryana government then approached the Supreme Court. In 2008, the top court set aside the High Court order and referred the matter back to the High Court. In 2009, the High Court sent the case back to the reference court in Hisar. On January 3, 2012, the reference court assessed the compensation at the rate of Rs 365 per square yard.
The case returned to the High Court. Lawyers of the landowners argued that the land had great potential for development as residential and commercial areas. They pointed out that before their land was acquired, one Nirupama Jain’s land was acquired just a kilometre away and, in her case, compensation had been assessed in October 1989 at the rate of Rs 800 per square yard.
But Haryana additional advocate general Deepak Balyan submitted that the acquired land was away from the city while Nirupama Jain’s land was in a busy commercial area of Hisar city near the Hisar-Delhi national highway. Balyan also submitted an April 1978 sale deed of a nearby area, registered a year prior to the takeover of the petitioners’ land, in which the sale consideration had been at the rate of Rs 2.44 per square yard.
Relying on these facts, Justice Bindal said that the reference court had erred in its judgment the second time, that it was right the first time when it assessed the value of the land at the rate of Rs 11.25 per square yard while taking the maximum rate granted by the collector and 25 per cent increase thereon.
“That would be the appropriate amount of compensation for the entire chunk of land. It not only adds margin for one year difference in date of sale deed (relied upon by state) and the date of issuance of notification under Section 4 of the Act, but also takes care of the fact, as is usually argued, that sale transactions are undervalued,” Justice Bindal said.
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