Lands Acquired under the State Act of 1990, Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, 2013 shall not be applicable: Supreme Court 

Lands Acquired under the State Act of 1990, Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, 2013 shall not be applicable: Supreme Court 

The Supreme Court ruled that the lands acquired under the State Act of 1990, Section 24(1)(a) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 shall not be applicable at all.

Background 

The lands in question were sought to be acquired under the provisions of the State Land Acquisition Act, 1990. The notification under Section 4 of the State Act of 1990 was issued. The lands in question were sought to be acquired for the appellants – beneficiary. That thereafter declaration under Section 6 of the State Act of 1990 was issued in 2018. The land owners original petitioners filed the respective petitions before the High Court challenging the proceedings initiated under the J&K Land Acquisition Act SVT 1990.

Arguments 

Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General, appearing for the appellants, submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court has erred in directing the appellants to determine and pay the compensation under the provisions of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

He contended that even otherwise considering Section 24 (1) of the Act, 2013, with respect to the acquisition under the State Act of 1990, Act, 2013 shall not be applicable at all.

He further submitted that Section 24 of the Act, 2013 shall be applicable only in a case where the acquisition under the provisions of Land Acquisition Act, 1894 have been initiated.

Advocate Sunil Fernandes, appearing for the respondents, submitted that neither the possession of the lands in question have been taken over nor the compensation has been paid as the award was not declared, no error has been committed by the High Court in directing to pay the compensation under the Act, 2013.

He further submitted that in view of the plain language implied in Section 24 of the Act, 2013 i.e., if at the time of commencement of the Act, 2013, no award has been made under the old Act, then all provisions under the new Act (Act, 2013) relating to determination of compensation shall apply. 

Decision 

The Division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Krishna Murari said that the language of Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, 2013 is very clear and unambiguous. It talks about the land acquisition under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 only and it does not speak about any other pari materia provision of different statutes.

The court viewed that the provisions of the Act, 2013 shall not be applicable with respect to the acquisition under the J & K Act, 1990. 

Even otherwise considering clause 2(13) of the Order, 2019 read with Section 6 of the General Clauses Act under which the rights, liabilities, privileges, obligations acquired, accrued, or incurred under the repealed laws stands saved and would be continued under those Acts, the court noted that Order, 2019 is subsequent to the Act, 2013. 

Therefore the bench presumed that while enacting the Order, 2019 and providing Clause 2(13) of the Order, 2019, the legislature was conscious of the provisions of the earlier Act (Act, 2013). Under the circumstances also, with respect to the lands acquired under the State Act of 1990, Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, 2013 shall not be applicable at all.

The court found that with respect to the lands acquired under the  provisions of the J & K Act, 1990 Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, 2013 shall not be applicable and even otherwise as observed hereinabove on merits also as the award could not be declared due to the pendency of the writ petitions before the High Court and the order of status quo, the High Court has committed a serious error in directing the appellants to pay the amount of compensation under the Act, 2013. 

The court held that to that extent the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court is unsustainable.

Case title: Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (BPCL) & Ors. v/s Nisar Ahmed Ganai & Ors. 

Citation: CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 6778 ­ 6780 OF 2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment 

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