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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Need for more clarity on ruling in land acquisition matter: Supreme Court

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, was hearing some individual petitions that involve interpretation of Section 24(2) of the Act.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: September 29, 2020 2:27:04 am
Plea in SC to debar persons on trial in serious offence cases from contesting electionsThe court said it will consider the matter after two weeks. (File)

Chief Justice of India S A Bobde on Monday said there was need for more clarity on the Constitution bench ruling in the case regarding interpretation of the land acquisition Act.

“There are some questions… I will discuss with my brother judges… Where there is a property which the government has not taken possession nor paid compensation, then acquisition will lapse. But if the Government has taken possession but not paid compensation, the finding (in the judgment) is acquisition does not lapse and will continue… But how long… Forever?” the CJI asked.

The bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, was hearing some individual petitions that involve interpretation of Section 24(2) of the Act.

These individual petitions are to be decided on the basis of the ruling delivered by a Constitution bench headed by Justice (retired) Arun Mishra in March this year.

Responding to the bench’s query, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said “there were several pending cases with a different factual situation and the Constitution bench judgment will operate differently depending upon the facts of each… like the date of taking possession, nature of possession, date of award etc”.

The court said it will consider the matter after two weeks.

The Constitution bench judgment had held that proceedings under the land acquisition Act, 1984 will not lapse if the compensation payable to the land owner is tendered by depositing in the treasury even if the land owner refuses to accept the same.

It said the deemed lapse of land acquisition proceedings under the section will take place only “where due to inaction of authorities for five years or more prior to commencement of the said Act, the possession of land has not been taken nor compensation has been paid”.

“In other words, in case possession has been taken, compensation has not been paid then there is no lapse. Similarly, if compensation has been paid, possession has not been taken then there is no lapse,” the March ruling said.

Section 24(2) of the Act said that an acquisition would lapse if the physical possession of the land has not been taken “or” the compensation has not been paid.

But the Constitution Bench said the word “or” must be read as “and”, meaning thereby that the acquisition will lapse only if the physical possession has not been taken “and” compensation not paid.

Conflicting decisions by two benches in the matter had snowballed into a row in early 2018, forcing the apex court to refer it to a five-judge Constitution bench.

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