[Case Brief] Jagjit Singh v/s Union of India, 2014

Case NameJagjit Singh v Union of India
Case NumberCivil Writ Petition No 2806 & 2807-2934 of 2004
CourtDelhi High Court
BenchJustice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul
Author of the judgmentJustice Badar Durezz Ahmed
Date of DecisionMay 27, 2014
Relevant Act/SectionsRight to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 - Section 24
Author of the case briefAditya Gor

Facts of the dispute-

In the present writ petitions, the petitioners have urged that the acquisition of their land has lapsed on account of applicability of section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as the “new Act”)

It is an admitted position in view of the affidavit dated 27.05.2014 that possession has not been taken and compensation has also not been paid. Furthermore, the award in each of these cases has been made more than 5 years prior to the commencement of the new Act (i.e., 01.01.2014).

The issue before the court-

Whether the acquisition of the petitioner’s lands lapsed on account of applicability of section 24(2) of the new act?

Argument of the petitioner-

  1. The three conditions for attracting the deeming provisions of section 24(2) of the new Act have been satisfied and, therefore, all proceedings towards the acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as “the old Act”) ought to be deemed to have lapsed. 

  2. A deeming provision creates a legal fiction and ought to be read as it is without worrying about the inevitable corollaries.

Argument of the respondent-

  1. Although it is an admitted position that the award in each of these petitions has been made more than five years prior to the commencement of the new Act and that compensation has not been paid and also that the possession has not been taken, the petitioners are yet not entitled to the benefit of the deeming provisions under section 24 (2) of the new Act since possession in these cases could not be taken due to interim orders passed by this Court and because of the fact that possession could not be taken, compensation has also not been paid.

  2. No party can be put at a disadvantage because of an act of the Court. Since this Court had passed interim orders, it cannot work to the disadvantage of the respondents.

Ratio of the court-

Explanation to Section 24-

By the plain reading of Section 24 of the new act it is clear that by virtue of sub-section (1) thereof, that, where no award under section 11 of the old Act has been made, the land acquisition proceedings initiated under the old Act would be governed by the provisions of the new Act relating to the determination of compensation. However, where an award has been made under section 11 of the old Act, then such proceedings would continue under the provisions of the old Act as if the old Act had not been repealed. This is, however, subject to the non-obstante provisions contained in sub-section (2) of section 24 of the new Act which clearly stipulates that where an award under section 11 of the old Act has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of the new Act but the physical possession of the land has not been taken or the compensation has not been paid, the said proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed. It is also stipulated that the appropriate Government if it so chooses, can initiate the proceedings of land acquisition afresh in accordance with the provisions of the new Act.

Conditions required to be satisfied for deeming provision-

It is evident that section 24(2) of the new Act is a non-obstante provision. The conditions which are required to be satisfied before the deeming provision is triggered are:-

(i) The award should have been made under section 11 of the old Act, more than five years prior to the commencement of the new act; and

(ii) Physical possession of the land in question should not have been taken; or

(iii) The compensation should not have been paid.

These conditions are unqualified. It does not matter as to what was the reason behind the non-payment of compensation or for not taking possession. If the legislature wanted to qualify the above conditions by excluding the period during which the proceedings of acquisition of land were held up on account of stay or injunction by way of an order of a Court, it could have been expressly spelled out. In fact, whenever the legislature thought that it was necessary to spell out such an intention, it did so in section 19(7) of the new act.

Legal fiction and its inevitable corollaries-

It is obvious that the deeming provision of section 24(2) is a legal fiction which is a created and an imagined situation. The court ought not to be concerned with the inevitable corollaries that may flow out of it unless there is a clear prohibition in the statute itself. Once the state of affairs is imagined as real, the consequences and instances would also have to be imagined as real. Therefore, the fact that the possession could not have been taken by the respondents because of interim orders of the Court, would not in any way prevent this Court from imagining the state of affairs stipulated in Section 24(2) of the new Act. The only conditions that are required for the deeming provisions to be triggered are that the award must have been made five years or more prior to the commencement of the new Act and that either physical possession of the land has not been taken or that the compensation has not been paid.

Decision Held-

In fact, in these writ petitions, all the conditions stands satisfied. Therefore, the contention of the learned counsel for the respondent cannot be accepted. The petitioners are entitled to succeed in view of the deeming provisions of Section 24(2) of the new Act. The acquisition proceedings in all these writ petitions shall be deemed to have lapsed in respect of the petitioner’s lands.

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