Updated: October 16, 2021 5:38:36 am
Taking up a plea over compensation for land acquired by the NHAI, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that “the Central government has the power to take possession under the National Highway Act, 1956, after complying with the requirements of Section 3-E of the Act”.
The bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal has been hearing a petition filed by Manjit Singh and others against Union of India and the NHAI.
The petitioners had contended that their properties were acquired by the Centre in exercise of powers under the National Highway Act, but originally, the petitioners claimed, that no award with regard to the super structure had been passed. The supplementary award with regard to the super structure was announced on June 16, 2021, and the amount payable to the owners was deposited with the competent authority on August 10, 2021.
Meanwhile, counsel for petitioners contended that under the Right to Fair Compensation Act, the possession of the land/property cannot be taken without passing of the award and ensuring that the payment/benefits there under have been paid to the landowners. It was argued that the Collector can take the possession of the land only after ensuring that full payment of the compensation has been done to the persons entitled as well as the rehabilitation and resettlement of such persons has been completed, and in the absence of the aforesaid payment, the Collector has no power to take the possession.
The NHAI counsel, Advocate R S Madan, argued that since the 1956 Highway Act is a special law, whereas the Right to Fair Compensation Act of 2013 is a general law, therefore, the special law will prevail.
The bench of Justice Kshetarpal, after hearing the matter, held, “The Central government has the power to take the possession under the 1956 Act after complying with the requirements of Section 3E of the Act. Hence, in the considered opinion of this court, it is not appropriate to stall the work of widening the national highway any further.”
Advocate pulled up
Noting that the counsel representing the petitioners had also filed a petition in 2018, on behalf of various other landowners, and the Division Bench after considering the matter found that no restraining order can be passed in the facts and circumstances of the given case, Justice Kshetarpal said, “However, while filing the present writ petition, on behalf of some other writ petitioners, the same learned counsel has failed to bring to the notice of the Court the aforesaid order.”
Justice Kshetarpal observed that, “a person practicing law is required to maintain a higher ethical conduct…No lawyer/advocate should attempt to mislead or conceal material facts or information from the court”. The case has been adjourned for November 10, 2021.
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