THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court, while interpreting the provision of Section 101-A of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, has held that “once the possession of land has been taken, the land has vested in the State and the land owner or whosoever has possession of the land would be considered a trespasser. The legality of the acquisition proceedings cannot be challenged in any mode”.
The division bench of Justice Daya Chaudhary and Justice Meenakshi I Mehta, while disposing the petition seeking liberty to approach the State of Haryana by way of filing representation under Section 101A of the Act, 2013 for de-notifying their land, further held, “no right accrues in favour of land owner to represent the state government to de-notify his/her land”.
Petitioners Raghubir Singh and Hawa Singh approached the HC as their land measuring 12 bigha was acquired for public purpose (development and utilisation for residential and commercial area) at Karnal, followed by an award in 2004, and possession the same year. The petitioner thus challenged the acquisition proceedings in 2004 in court. The petition was however disposed of with liberty to file representation before the State. The claim of the petitioner was however rejected by the State, following which the petitioners filed another three petitions at HC, in 2013 and 2014 and in 2015. The HC after hearing the plea had directed the State to decide their representation, but when it was again rejected by the State, they moved filed a fresh petition in 2016.
The petitioner through their counsel, senior advocate Shailendra Jain, have sought liberty to approach the State by way of filing representation under Section 101A of the Act, 2013, for de-notifying their land.
State counsel Additional Advocate General Ankur Mittal opposed granting liberty to the petitioners, and contended that the petitioners have received compensation for said land in 2004 and in both petitions are not entitled for liberty to approach the State by way of filing representation under Section 101A of the Act, 2013.
The HC bench after hearing to the arguments said, “Since State has no objection in withdrawing the main petitions, accordingly the applications are partly allowed and prayer qua withdrawal of the main petition in both cases is accepted, but as far as prayer for granting liberty to approach the respondent-State for filing representation under Section 101A of the Act, 2013, is concerned, the same is declined as the issue involved in said petitions had already been settled by the apex court in judgment of Indore Development Authority’s case (supra).”
“Possession of the land was taken by Rapat/Panchnama which is a valid mode of taking possession and the land has vested in the State. Any person retaining the possession thereafter in any manner is treated to be a trespasser,” ruled the HC.
The bench further held, “On perusal of judgment in Indore Development Authority’s case (supra) and paras as mentioned above, it has categorically been held/observed that once possession of the land has been taken, the land has vested in the State and the land owner or whosoever have possession of the land would be considered as a trespasser. The legality of the acquisition proceedings cannot be challenged in any mode.”
The HC observed that in various writ petitions earlier filed by the petitioners in both these petitions, liberty has been sought but the petitioners have lost their cases in four round of litigations and no such liberty is given. It will multiply the litigations. Any direction by way of issuing mandamus to any person in such like circumstances not only would be wastage of the time of the court but there would be no end of any litigation.
It was further stated by the bench that grant of such a liberty would mean commending the government to consider the case under Section 101A of the Act, 2013 which is though only an enabling provision that too de-notifying the entire acquired land and not just a parcel of land if in the opinion of the state government the ‘public purpose’ for which the land was acquired has become unviable or non-essential, without giving any right to the land owners.
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