Whether the two–year period specified under Section 11 A of the Land Acquisition Act, of 1894 will apply even after the repeal of the 1894 Act, or the twelve–month period specified in Section 25 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013 will apply for the awards made under clause (a) of Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act?
- The petition arose out of two civil petitions filed in the Supreme Court regarding the interpretation of Section 24(1)(a) of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013.
2. The matter is related to the acquisition of 203.86 hectares of land in the village of Adyar, District Bhandara, Maharashtra for the Goshikhurd Project for the purpose of irrigation.
3. The State of Maharashtra, on 16th June 2011, issued a notification under Section 41 of the 1894 Act for the land in village Adyal, District Bhandara, Maharashtra for the Goshikhurd Project. This was preceded by the publication of declarations under Section 62 of the 1894 Act, the last of which was dated 8th of August 2012 vide Gazette Notification No. S.O. 3729(E) dated 19th December 2013, the 2013 Act came into force on 1st January 2014, and in terms of Section 114 of the 2013 Act, the 1894 Act was revoked. On 30th October 2014, the Special Land Acquisition Officer supposedly made an award in terms of clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act.
4. Two writ petitions were filed on the18th December 2015 and 25th January 2016 by some of the landowners to rescind and set aside the award dated 30th October 2014, which was allowed by the judgment under challenge passed by the Nagpur Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay on 27th July 2017, inter alia, ruling that in terms of Section 11A of the 1894 Act, the award ought to have been passed within two years from the date of the declaration under Section 6, that is, before 8th August 2014.
The acquisition proceedings having lapsed, the award was considered to be of no consequence and has been set aside.
The High Court also agreed with the landowners that the award purportedly made on 30th October 2014 was backdated.
Discerning negligence on the part of the officers, which necessitates fresh acquisition proceedings thereby causing a great financial burden to the acquisition authority, directions have been issued to the State of Maharashtra to conduct an inquiry against the Collector, Bhandara, and the Land Acquisition Officer, Bhandara.
Hon’ble Justice Khanna pronounced the judgment.
The bench held that in the cases that fall under clause (a) to section 24(1) of the 2013 Act, the limitation period for passing/making an award under Section 25 of the 2013 Act would commence from January 2014, that is, the date when 2013 Act came into force. Awards passed under clause (a) to Section 24(1) would be valid if made within twelve months from 1st January 2014. This dictum is subject to the caveat stated that a declaration that has lapsed in terms of section 11 A of the 1894 Act before or on 31st December 2013 would get revived.
(1)Section 25 of the 2013 Act would be applicable to the awards made and published under Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act.
(2)The limitation period for passing/making an award under Section 24(1)(a) with regard to Section 25 of the 2013 Act would commence from 1st January 2014, that is, the date when the 2013 Act became effective.
(3) The duration during which the Court order would inhibit action on the part of the authorities to proceed with the making of the award would be excluded while computing the period under Section 25 of the 2013 Act.
My Opinion –
In my opinion, the hon’ble judges have with a clear and elaborate verdict settled the question of interpretation between the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.
Judgment Name/Citation – Maharashtra Vidarbha Irrigation Development
Corporation ……… Appellant(S)
The Executive Engineer, Goshikhurd Project
Mahesh and Others ……… Respondent(S)
Judgment Date – 10th November 2021.
Judge(s)/Bench – M. Khanwalikar ……… J
Sanjay Khanna ………. J
Written by – Rudrakant Chaubey.
College – Sri Krishna Jubilee Law College