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Some Clarity Needed on Larger Bench Verdict, Says SC on Land Acquisition Matter

File photo of Supreme Court

File photo of Supreme Court

The constitution bench had interpreted section 24 of the 'Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013' as there were two conflicting verdicts by different benches of the apex court on the issue.

The Supreme Court Monday said some clarity was required on a judgement delivered by its five-judge constitution bench on the issue of land acquisition and payment of fair compensation as it creates some confusion. A bench comprising Chief Justice S A Bobde and Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian observed that there were some questions which were required to be discussed.

There are some questions in my mind. I want to discuss it with my brothers (judges on the bench). The constitution bench judgement, I think, creates a confusion, said the CJI. The bench observed, Suppose, there is a property of which the government has not taken possession and has not paid compensation, then the acquisition will lapse. If the government has taken over possession but not paid compensation, the five-judges says the acquisition will not lapse, it said.

For how long, is the question, the bench said, adding, For how long if the government does not pay compensation, the acquisition will continue?. A five-judge bench of the apex court had on March 6 this year delivered a verdict and held that disputes over land acquisition and payment of fair compensation to owners cannot be re-opened under the 2013 Act if the legal processes have been completed before January 1, 2014.

The constitution bench had interpreted section 24 of the 'Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013' as there were two conflicting verdicts by different benches of the apex court on the issue. Section 24 of the Act deals with situations under which a land acquisition proceedings shall deemed to have been lapsed.

The provision said that if no award of compensation has been decided in a land acquisition case by January 1, 2014, then the provisions of 2013 Act will apply in determining the compensation for acquisition of land. We will discuss it and take up the matter, the bench said.

"We have certain questions. There is something which we want to be clear about," it said adding that it will hear the matter after two weeks. In its verdict, the constitution bench had said that under the provisions of Section 24(1)(a) of the Act, if the award is not made as on January 1, 2014, there is no lapse of proceedings and compensation has to be determined under the provisions of 2013 law. It had said the deemed lapse of land acquisition proceedings under section 24(2) of the 2013 Act takes place where due to inaction of authorities for five years or more prior to commencement of the law, the possession of land has not been taken nor compensation has been paid.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that these matters, which concerned section 24 of the Act, were kept pending as the issue was referred to the constitution bench. He said several such matters are pending in the apex court as well as different high courts.

The judgement of the constitution bench would operate differently based on the facts of each case, Mehta told the bench.


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