Since the pre-independence era, agriculture has been the dominant occupation
of Indian inhabitants. It is thus due to this factor that, the major part of the
geographical area of the Indian subcontinent constitutes to be of agricultural
land. Even after industrialisation and urbanisation the industries,
infrastructure and other establishments still hold a relatively small portion of
land in India.
However due to the rapid rise in globalisation, modernization and urbanisation
this proportion of land holding is changing rapidly and for this changes and
developments to be undertaken new spaces are required due to which the majority
held private lands which were earlier being used for agriculture are now being
transferred for commercial and industrial use.
The industrialisation and infrastructural development projects such as building
of streets, highways, railways, housing and other community purposes makes it
necessary for the government to acquire land compulsorily by way of paying
compensation to the land owners. Since the British era the legal framework for
compulsory land acquisition of privately held land was governed by the Land
Acquisition Act Of 1894.
However various challenges with regard to provisions of this act arose
particularly when land acquisition was needed for establishing big industrial
units on the cost of the farmers land. There were various issues in The Land
Acquisition Act 1894 since it made government's acquisition of land possible
without adequate compensation and employment opportunities for the displaced
The issue with regards to possession being taken of the acquired land even
before the compensation award has been declared or payment has been given to the
land owners. Although the act was biased towards the corporate and upper class
interests which made the implementation of law less humane and uprooted the
farmers from their only habitat.
It was due to these issues and non-satisfaction with provisions of existing Land
Acquisition Act which led to the enactment of another act. The Right to Fair
Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and
Resettlement Act Of 2013 was ratified with an intent for regulation of land
acquisition, it laid down the process and directions for reimbursement
reintegration and relocation of the affected persons.
The objective is to safeguard the affected people, people whose lands are
projected to be attained and their families in land acquisition, provide for a
transparent process of the acquisition proceedings while ensuring just and fair
compensation and make suitable requirements for such people for their
restoration and relocation.
The new act, The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (further referred as Act
of 2013) therefore replaced the Land Acquisition Act 1894. This however raised
many new issues such as that what will happen to the ongoing land acquisition
proceedings after the new act comes into force, will they continue as per old
act or will they lapse?
In order to address these queries section 24 was inserted in the Act of 2013
which lays down the cases when Land acquisition process under Act of 1894 shall
be deemed to have lapsed. However, this section had different interpretations
granted by different courts and eventually issues arose with regards to the
understanding of provision of section 24 In the landmark cases of Pune
Municipal Corporation vs Harakchand Misirimal Solanki
case 2014 and Indore
Development Authority vs Manohar Lal.
This paper is an attempt is made to analyse the provisions of section 24 with
the help of the landmark judgements and understand its interpretation.
Understanding Section 24 Of The Act
The erstwhile Land Acquisition Act Of 1894 had existed in India for more than a
century and had governed the land acquisition process for majority of the
development projects & infrastructural plans for both the public and private
sector. However, after the enactment of the new act of 2013, there was a
situation of apprehension with regards to the ongoing proceedings till 31
December 2013 before the new act came into force on 1st January 2014.
To solve this issue, section 24 was inserted in the act of 2013, which is
- Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, in any case of land
acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894:
- where no award under section 11 of the said Land Acquisition Act has been
made, then, all provisions of this Act relating to the determination of
compensation shall apply; or
- where an award under said section 11 has been made, then such
proceedings shall continue under the provisions of the said Land Acquisition
Act, as if the said Act has not been repealed.
- Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), in case of land
acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of
1894), where an award under the said section 11 has been made five years or
more prior to the commencement of this 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 and the appropriate Government,
if it so chooses, shall initiate the proceedings of such land acquisition
afresh in accordance with the provisions of this Act:
Provided that where an award has been made and compensation in respect of a
majority of land holdings has not been deposited in the account of the
beneficiaries, then, all beneficiaries specified in the notification for
acquisition under section 4 of the said Land Acquisition Act, shall be entitled
to compensation in accordance with the provisions of this Act"
This definition if simplified in plain words would be read as follows:
- When an award under section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 has
not been declared, then those land acquisition proceedings will from then
onwards be covered
under the new act, that is the compensation to be calculated will be as per the
provisions of the new act of 2013.
- When an award under section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894 has
been made five years or more since the inauguration of the act of 2013, but
even then the physical control of the land has not yet been taken or the
compensation has not yet been paid then such proposal will now be governed
as per the new act of 2013.
- When an award has been declared and made but even then the compensation
for majority of the land holders is not yet deposited in the account of the
beneficiaries then all such notified land holders will be entitled to the
compensation as per the calculation given under the new out of 2013.
The section 24 of the act is a retrospective clause which aims to give
clarification about the ongoing land acquisition proceedings under the old act
which are/was currently at different stages of the process. The section 24 was
given a wide interpretation by different state governments who had made their
own guidelines and instructions for the same.
Few such interpretations us
declared by the different governments at state-level are:
- Government of Orissa:
They declared that all the proceedings under the old
act will continue till the process reaches the provisions given in section 7 of
the old Land Acquisition act but, from the stage of compensation determination
and award declaration the provisions of the Act of 2013 will apply. If in the
proceedings, the award has already been declared then the payment of
compensation will be governed as per the old act.
The proceedings as per section
24 (2) of the new act will break after five years have passed prior to the new
act and the requiring authority will have the choice to initiate new land
acquisition proceedings as per the new provisions of the act.
- Government of Karnataka:
They declared that for considering whether
acquisition proceedings which were initiated under the act of 1894 will be
continued on lapsed, will be decided on the basis of the provisions as per the
section 24, 103 and 114(2) Of the new act of 2013 which will be read along with
section 6 of the General Clauses Act
of 1897 which states the effect of repeal , i.e. whenever any new act comes into
force and enactment made earlier gets repealed then until a different intention
is initiated the repeal of old act will not resuscitate whatsoever was not in
force or which existed when the rescind took place
It will not disturb the
preceding procedure of the act so as to repeal or reinstate whatsoever done
under it or affect any right or liability which has been sustained or acquired
as per previous enactment or affect any penalty or punishment given in respect
of offences in the previous enactments or affect any proceedings in reverence of
any right, liability or penalty and such proceedings shall be sustained as if
the new act has not been approved.
On a basic appraisal of the above-mentioned section 24, it comes across as a
simple provision explaining the retrospective effect of the requirements of the
new act of 2013 and the significances of the ongoing proceedings which are at
different stages of the land acquisition process. However, this section
particularly came into the limelight in the Pune municipal corporation case
where the Supreme Court had to decide on the applicability of the retrospective
effect of this section and its provisions.
The Supreme Court's judgement in this
case was again questioned in the case of Indore development Authority case,
where the bench gave contradictory order in comparison to the Pune judgement.
After this the issue was referred to a five-judge bench which finally led to the
settlement of the issues but still raised some more new questions about the
applicability of section 24.
The Relevant Section Of The Land Acquisition Act, 1894
A Section 31 in The Land Acquisition Act, 1894
31 Payment of compensation or deposit of same in Court
- On making an award under section 11, the Collector shall tender payment
of the compensation awarded by him to the persons interested entitled
thereto according to the award, and shall pay it to them unless prevented by
some one or more of the contingencies mentioned in the next sub-section.
- If they shall not consent to receive it, or if there be no person
competent to alienate the land, or if there be any dispute as to the title
to receive the compensation or as to the apportionment of it, the Collector
shall deposit the amount of the compensation in the Court to which a
reference under section 18 would be submitted: Provided that any person
admitted to be interested may receive such payment under protest as to the
sufficiency of the amount: Provided also that no person who has received the
amount otherwise than under protest shall be entitled to make any
application under section 18: Provided also that nothing herein contained
shall affect the liability of any person, who may receive the whole or any
part of any compensation awarded under this Act, to pay the same to the
person lawfully entitled thereto.
- Notwithstanding anything in this section, the Collector may, with the
sanction of 70 [appropriate Government] instead of awarding a money
compensation in respect of any land, make any arrangement with a person
having a limited interest in such land, either by the grant of other lands
in exchange, the remission of land revenue on other lands held under the
same title, or in such other way as may be equitable having regard to the
interest of the parties concerned.
- Nothing in the last foregoing sub-section shall be construed to
interfere with or limit the power of the Collector to enter into any
arrangement with any person interested in the land and competent to contract
1 in respect thereof. State Amendments Andhra Pradesh. In section 31:
- In sub-section (1), after the words and shall pay it to them insert the
words in a lump sum in a case where it does not exceed five hundred rupees
and in all others cases in such number of equal annual installments not exceeding
five as may be determined by the Collector;
- To sub-section (1) add the following provisos, namely:
Provided that where the compensation is sought to be paid in installments, the
Collector shall pay installments of the amount awarded with interest thereon at
six per cent per annum from the time of taking possession of the land until the
last installment is paid:
Provided further that where possession of land is taken
but the compensation awarded is not paid or deposited before the date of
commencement of the Land Acquisition (Andhra Pradesh Amendment) Act, 1976, the
provisions of this section shall apply in relation to the payment of
compensation as if the acquisition proceedings have been started after the date
of commencement of the said Act. [ Vide Andhra Pradesh Act 22 of 1976, sec. 3 (w.r.e.f.
12-9-1975)]. Himachal Pradesh. In section 31:
- after sub-section (3), insert the following sub-section, namely: 3(a).
Notwithstanding anything in this section, if the person interested in the
land is willing to accept the compensation in kind instead of money, the
Collector may further, with the sanction of the appropriate Government
instead of awarding a money compensation in respect of any land, give some
other land of equivalent value in exchange of the land acquired and thereby
pay the compensation awarded in whole or in part in accordance with the
market value of the land so given in exchange.;
- for sub-section (4) substitute the following sub-section, namely:
(4) Nothing in sub-sections (3) and (3A) shall be construed to interfere with or
limit the power of the Collector to enter into any arrangement with any person
interested in the land and competent to contract in respect thereof. [ Vide
Himachal Pradesh Act 17 of 1986, sec. 3 (w.e.f. 22-7-1986)].
Karnataka In section 31, for the word Collector, wherever it occurs, substitute
the words Deputy Commissioner. [ Vide Mysore Act 17 of 1961, sec. 4 (w.e.f.
Maharashtra Nagpur (City)
Case Analysis Of:
Pune Municipal Corporation Vs Harakchand Misirimal Solanki1
The Facts In Brief Of This Present Case Are:
- In section 31, in sub-section (1), after the words the compensation and
in sub-section (2) after the words the amount of compensation the words and
costs if any shall be deemed to be inserted.
- In sub-section (2), in the concluding proviso, after the words any
compensation, the words or costs shall be deemed to inserted. [ Vide C.P. Act
XXXVI of 1836, sec. 61 and Sch., para 13 (w.e.f. 1-1-1937); Maharashtra (V.R.)
A.L.O., 1956]. Punjab : Haryana: Chandigarh. Same as that of MaharashtraNagpur
(City). [ Vide Punjab Act IV of 1922, sec. 59 and Sch., para. 13, Act 31 of
1966, sec. 88]. Uttar Pradesh.
- Same as that of MaharashtraNagpur (City). [
Vide Uttar Pradesh Act 11 of 1959, sec. 376 and Sch. II, para 13].
- For Uttar Pradesh Rules relating to grant of land under section 31
instead of compensation, see Uttar Pradesh Gazette, Pt. 1A, dated 17th June,
On 6 August 2002 the Standing Committee for acquisition of land had approved the
proposal given by the Municipal Commissioner of the Pune Municipal Corporation
for the development of Forest Garden on a land measuring up to 43.94 acres. This
proposal was thereafter sent to the Collector of Pune who then sanction the
proposal and on 20 February 2003 advanced the said proposal to the "Special Land
Acquisition Officer" of Pune for taking additional course of action.
as per the provisions of the said act notices were made and published in the
Official Gazette and also served upon the landowners and interested people as
per section 4, under section 6 and section 9 as per the act of 1894. Following
this on 31 January 2008 the Officer declared the award as per section 11 of the
However, the land owners defied the procurement proceedings before the
Bombay High Court in total of "nine writ petitions" out of which seven were made
after the award was declared and two were filed before the declaration of the
The ground for challenging the procurement proceedings and the validity
of the award Included various points:
- Absenteeism of the resolution by the general body of the corporation.
- Non-compliance with the requirements of section 5 and section 7 of Act
- The lapse of access proceedings under section 11 A.
The Court on the basis of the urgings made by the parties held that, in the
procurement proceedings due to non-compliance of section 7 and also other breach
of provisions the acquisition proceedings were bad in law. The High Court also
stated that the proceedings for growth of the Forest Garden cannot be begun only
by the mere sanction of the Standing Committee deprived of any resolution being
passed by The General Body of The Corporation.
Following this the High Court
gave directions for restoration of the position of land owners. However, the
main issue which arose in this present case was, whether the land
procurement proceedings under section 11 of act of 1894 had lapsed as per
section 24 of the 2013 act or not.
Arguments By The Landowners:
- The relevant question in the present case was that whether as per section
24(2) of the Act of 2013, the land acquisition proceedings initiated under
the old act have lapsed or not?
- The other question arose about finding out the gist of the expression
"compensation has not been paid"?
The land owners contended that by the enactment of the act of 2013, section 24
(2) provides the provision that the land acquisition proceedings will be lapsed
when an award under section 11 of the old act is made for five years or more
preceding to the start of the new act and when no compensation has been paid to
the owners or no amount of compensation has been deposited in The Court by the
Acquisition Officer the proceedings will be lapsed. They contended that in this
present case the award was made by the government prior to 2009 and therefore it
falls under the ambit of the provisions of section 24.
Arguments Of The Corporation:
The corporation on the other hand contended that the award that was declared by
the Acquisition Officer was done so on 31 January 2008 as per the terms and
provisions of the 1894 act and the land owners on the same day were informed
about the quantum of compensation they were to receive. Following this, notice
was also given to the landowners for their presence in the Special Land
Acquisition Officer's Office for receiving the amount of compensation.
did not receive that and neither any request came from their side for a
reference to the district court under section 18. Therefore, the compensation
amount of around Rs.27,00,00,000 was thereafter deposited in the government
treasury. It was therefore contended by the corporation that they have not
committed any default and therefore the acquisition proceedings shall not be
According to them the transfer of the amount to the government treasury
is sufficient for negation of the provisions of section 24, i.e. the land owners
shall not be able to claim to retake the land by stating that that they have not
received a compensation.
The Decision Of The Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court in its judgement stated that the section 24 commences with a
non-obstinate part i.e. it gives an overriding effect to all other requirements
of act of 2013. The particular section 24(2) provides for two contingencies,
which if either of them is satisfied will lead to lapse of the proceedings under
the old act. These two events are that "if the physical position of the land has
not been taken yet" or "the compensation has not been paid", in a situation when
the award has been declared five years or more preceding to the instigation of
the new act.
The Supreme Court interpreted the clause "compensation has not been paid" by
understanding the section 31 of the 1894 act which dealt with the imbursement of
compensation and mandates the collector to make payment of the compensation and
if they are prevented in doing so then they have to deposit the set an amount in
The Honourable court stated that after an award has been made under
section 11 by the government then the compensation so awarded shall be tendered
to the persons entitled to it. If they do not agree to obtain such amount or if
there is lack of capable people or if there is dispute with regard to title of
the land for receiving the compensation or about the apportionment of the
compensation then the collector shall 'credit the said amount to the court'.
Supreme Court laid down that after interpreting the section 24 of 2013 act with
a reading on the basis of section 31 of the 1894, the expression "compensation
has not been paid" should not be given a literal construction but instead should
be interpreted liberally because due to that the procedure and process of
depositing the compensation as per section 31 of the 1894 in case of happening
of any contingency would also be then regarded as the compensation has been paid
when such amount has been deposited in the court.
The Supreme Court said that it is an established rule that when a authority is
given to do a certain thing in certain way then that thing must be done in that
way or should not be done at all. Hence the Supreme Court on the basis of the
facts in this present case stated that the award was made on 31 January 2008 and
following which notices were given to the land owners for receiving the
reimbursement and since they did not come forward to receive the said amount, it
was thereafter placed in the state's treasury.
The question is whether the
depositing of the amount of reimbursement in the state's treasury is equal to
the process when amount is to be paid to the land owners? And for this the
Supreme Court answered in negative and said that
the credit of amount of reimbursement in the govt.'s treasury is of no use and
the obligation to pay the interest also gets paused till the sum is not placed
in the court.
Therefore, the Supreme Court stated that on the basis of the facts it gets
clarified that the grant with respect to the ongoing land acquisition
proceedings had been made by the Acquisition Officer for a period of more than
five years preceding to the origination of the new act of 2013. It is
established that the reimbursement which was awarded was neither paid to the
land owners interested and not it was placed in the court.
Instead the deposit
of compensation was made in the state revenue account which is not comparable to
the compensation paid to the land owners. Therefore, the Supreme Court held that
the land acquisition proceedings shall be considered to have lapsed as per
section 24 (2) of the act of 2013. The Supreme Court therefore said that it was
not required to discuss the case on merits and the appeal failed and the matter
was dismissed with no order as to the costs.
In this landmark case of Pune municipal corporation, the Supreme Court had by
its decision implied that section 24 of the act of 2013 is valid in its
retrospective effect and this also clarifies the doubt about the legality of the
clause in positive. The above-mentioned judgement acted as an instructive
explanation on the concept of applicability of section 24(2) with regards to the
expression when "compensation will be deemed to be paid
" and laid down the
scenarios when compensation if not paid directly to the landowners would still
be considered deemed to be paid if deposited in the court of law.
This case came across as a landmark judgement in clarifying the scope of section
24 to some extent and to increase the ambit of applicability of the new act of
2013. However, despite being a landmark judgement in regards to the requirements
of section 24 and the new act of 2013, still it does not appear that this
judgement is an end point to the dispute.
In this particular case, the land
acquisition proceedings were at the stage of award declaration and compensation
had to be paid and therefore the issue with respect to this situation was dealt
under the section24(2) provisions; but still this judgement doesn't clarify the
position of law in cases when the land acquisition proceedings are at different
stages of completion process and this is why this present case is a situation
specific judgement and not an overall review of section 24 of the act of 2013 as
This lacuna in interpretation of section 24 gives way to various other
cases which can arise in subsequent proceedings. This case served as "ration decidendi" in various other land acquisition proceedings, where the land owners
were able to rely on this precedent
and overturn their proceedings in the pending matters. This judgement acted an
accelerator in increasing the applicability of the new act and lapsing of the
ongoing proceedings another old act.
The rule of law which came forward in this decision was that when any land
acquisition proceedings is ongoing and for that an award has been declared and
compensation has to be made but it is not so made within five years or more
preceding to the inauguration of the new act, or in cases when contingencies
occur and compensation needs to be deposited in court of law which is not done,
then in such cases the land acquisition proceedings shall lapse and whether the
land was acquired, without the compensation or not, will not be considered in
this current scenario.
In this case due to the contingencies, the compensation
could not be paid directly to the landowners and instead it was deposited in the
government's own treasury which according to the state was enough to negate the
contentions of section 24, i.e. to say even if the compensation was not paid
directly to the land owners it was set aside in the government's treasury.
However, the Supreme Court had a different view in the scenario and they held
that the state is always mandated to pay the land owner the money whenever any
award is declared and it is only in the special circumstances or contingencies
as per section 31 of the old act, that the government could deposit the said
amount of compensation in the court. Therefore, transfer of compensation to
government on treasury is not equivalent to the deposits to be made in the court
of law and hence in this particular scenario the Supreme Court dismissed the
Hence this case became a landmark judgement and stare decisis, which ought not
to be disturbed for the proper functioning of the judicial system and to give a
consistent position with regards to these provisions of law.
However issues arose with the same provision when in the case of Indore
development authority , the similar three judge bench took a diversion from the
judgement of Pune municipal corporation and held that when the land owner has
not taken the compensation after the award declaration but the payment has been
made to the government treasury, then it becomes sufficient to counter the
section 24 of the act of 2013 and it is not necessary that the said amount needs
to be deposit in the court of law.
Since both these judgements gave a
contradictory view and had the same strength of the bench for deciding the
matter, this issue was referred to a five- judge bench of the Hon'ble Supreme
Court for finally settling down the question on law.
Case Analysis Of
Indore Development Authority v/s Manohar Lal 2
Background Of The Case:
After the precedent set in the Pune Municipal Corporation case11, questions
arose on the said judgement in other disputes. Particularly in case of Yogesh
Enema v. State of M. P, when Division Bench of the Supreme Court questioned the
accuracy of the Court's former verdict in Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Assn.
case who had used the precedent set in the Pune Municipal Corporation case. The
division bench had then moved on to refer the case to a larger Bench for
Following this a controversy again arose when in the case of Indore
Development Authority v. Shailendra
2 (hereinafter referred to as IDA Case
I), when a three-judge bench of the supreme court delivered an opposite
judgement with the interpretation of Section 24 of 2013 Act.
The facts of that case were that the Indore development Authority wanted to
construct ring roads and highways for connectivity in the outskirts of the city
for which they wanted to acquire some land, however the land was already
disputed since the possession of the lands was with the encroachers and not
The authority however still went ahead with the land acquisition proceedings and
the compensation award was declared subsequently but due to dispute between
encroachers and landowners, the owners did not take the compensation.
Following this the authority then deposited the amount with the Land acquisition
collector and then moved on with the land acquisition process completion but the
landowners objected that the process was not valid since compensation amount has
not been paid & it was also not deposited in court of law and hence as per
section 24(2) of the 2013 act, the proceedings shall lapse.
The three Judge Bench comprising of Justice Arun Mishra, Justice A.K. Goel and
Justice Shantanagoudar overruled the verdict given down in the Pune Municipal
Corporation case by another three judgements and give a different opinion. They
were opined that the compensation will made under section 24 of the act will be
considered to be have been paid if the amount is deposit a government treasury
and the same is not necessary to deposit the court of law. They also said that
the Pune Case was per incuriam i.e. 'through lack of care' as a judgement.
Following this issue again arose, when conflicts about interpretation of section
24 arose and eventually this conflict was referred to a 5-judge bench of the
Supreme Court for solving the issue. However, before the bench could deal with
the question in detail, issues were raised with regards to the fact that Justice
Arun Mishra was a part of the bench even though he had already authored the IDA
Case I which will in turn hamper the current proceedings due to biasness on the
After this, the bench had heard the arguments about this and eventually decided
that the presence of Justice Arun Mishra will not create any bias since it's
normal practice that Judges even when in previous case decided the question,
overrules his judgement in larger bench cases, and review petitions. It was also
held that the judiciary aims at not only settling a case permanently but
settling it correctly.
- The clarification of section 24 of the Act of 2013.
- Whether non-deposit of reimbursement in court under section 31(2) of the
Act of 1894 results into lapse of acquisition under section 24(2) of the Act
The Hon'ble court in its judgement first clarified the scope of section 24 of
act of 2013. They laid down that the section 24 contains a non-obstante clause,
i.e. it prevails over all the sections of the act of 2013. Section 24(1)(a)
states if the land acquisition proceedings were started as per act of 1894 but
award has not been completed, then the provisions of act of 2013 would apply for
award determination but such proceedings do not lapse. Section 24(1)(b) states
that when in such proceedings award has been made, then such proceedings shall
continue as per the provisions of the act of 1894 and those pending proceedings
shall be concluded accordingly.
They said that section 24(2) is an exception to the above clause since it states
"When an award under section 11 of Act of 1894 has been made before five years
or more since the origination of the act of 2013, but still the physical custody
of the land has not yet been taken or the reimbursement has not yet been paid
then such proposal will now be governed as per the new act of 2013".
particular provision was in question and the judges decided accordingly:
- The first issue bout this sub-section was whether the word "or" used
between the clause of possession not been taken and compensation not been
paid, has to be read as the word "or" or as "and"? The court held that the
word "or" has to be read as "AND".
The provision is made up of two negatives, i.e. when neither possession of
land has been taken nor the compensation has been paid, then land
acquisition proceedings shall lapse. If either of them has occurred then
proceedings shall continue as per the provisions. The court followed rules
of Interpretation and said that when two negatives in a sentence is
connected to each other by 'or', then it should be constructed as 'and'
- The issue whether the word paid includes only paid to landowners or the
court of law? Or other interpretations exist? The section has the clause
that the proceedings shall lapse in case the compensation has not been
"paid" which as per section 24 means paid to landowners and when read along
with the contingencies of section 31 include court of law. However, whether
it can be paid in government treasury was questioned.
The court held that the term "paid" cannot be given same meaning as
"deposited". The compensation would be considered to be paid or tendered to the
landowners if it is done according to section 31 and the state cannot be
penalized when the amount is tendered but could not be deposited directly to
landowners due to contingencies and the proceedings shall not lapse.
The court also held that the purpose of section 24(2) and section 31
collectively is that sufficient fund should be set aside to be given to
landowners and hence if the compensation is set aside with the Collector or in
the treasury or in court, then no lapse in proceedings would occur and it would
be deemed that compensation has been paid.
The court thereby clarified the scope of section 24 of the act of 2013 and also
settled the issues about the interpretation and laid down that section 24 cannot
be used for arising new cases on the concluded proceedings and revoking settled
disputes or question legality of previous proceedings to invalidate the whole
The judgment of the five-judge bench in this case had been a welcome step as it
is a detailed analysis of section 24 in its scope and applicability. It clearly
clarified the meaning of the provisions in question, particularly section 24(2).
The judgment firstly settled the issue by holding that this provision is made up
of twin conditions i.e. possession and compensation both
need to be not be present for the proceedings to lapse. The judgement clarified
that in case if one of the steps have been satisfied i.e. if either possession
has been taken place or the compensation has been paid, then in such scenario
the proceedings shall not lapse.
The subsection 24(2) acts as a penal provision and makes the proceedings lapse
in cases where neither the possession of land has been taken and nor the
compensation has been paid. This provision is penal in the sense that it acts as
a penalty to the authorities in case they delay in the land acquisition process
and here if after the award has been made 5 years or before the new act of 2013
but the steps required have not been completed then the proceedings will lapse.
This in turn will make the authorities work again from scratch if they want to
acquire the land as they would then be required to start the proceedings afresh
under the new provisions. The judgement in this regard gave a final
interpretation to be followed and thus set up uniform practice of land
This case also finally settled the issue about when the compensation is deemed
to be paid other than the deposit to landowners and the courts in case when
landowners do not consent to receive such amount or if there is lack of
competent people or if there is dispute with regard to title of the land for
receiving the compensation or about the apportionment of the compensation.
The court also held that the purpose of section 24(2) and section 31
collectively is that sufficient fund should be set aside to be given to
landowners and hence if the compensation is set aside with the Collector or in
the treasury or in court, then no lapse in proceedings would occur and it would
be deemed that compensation has been paid and therefore deposit of the amount to
treasuries doesn't lead to lapse in the proceedings.
The section 24 and particularly the subsection 24(2) focus on the aspect of
time, which is of utmost importance here. It is only because of the lag in time
of the steps to be followed, that the proceedings shall lapse and fresh process
needs to be initiated.
The court had also used this judgement to establish that the objective of the
new act and the section 24 was not to revoke the already settled proceedings of
the period prior to the new act and create double cases.
This in turn helped the establishing the retrospective limit of the section and
solved majority of the proceedings, which were ongoing due to the fact that they
were restarted in the first place due to wrong interpretation of the section 24.
Therefore, in my opinion this judgment helped in setting up a wholesome
explanation of the section 24 of the act of 2013 and has settled all issues
about its interpretation.
The Constitution of India guarantees the right to obtain, hold or dispose of
property subject to rational limitations by the State in interest of general
public. This reasonable restriction allowed the administration to acquire land
for public resolutions and the practice existed even before the Independence
era. The land acquisition process was governed under the Land Acquisition Act,
1894. This act was however based on colonial interests and was opposed to the
general welfare of the public, which led to exploitation, by the government's
To tackle the issues, the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land
Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013 was enacted to replace
the old act. The new act aimed to enhance the land acquisition process in favour
of landowners, make process more transparent and provide safeguards to them.
The section 24of the act of 2013 in particular was drafted to help the new act
establish itself quickly. However, when issues arose about the interpretation,
after series of judgements eventually the five-judge bench of Supreme Court
settled the dispute.
The issue about the interpretation of section 24 and its scope took a decade to
settle but, in the end, it clarifies that the aim of section 24 is not to reopen
settled proceedings or provide opportunities for belated questions but only to
provide opportunity to those cases where 5 years or more have passed in the
process of land acquisition possession has not been taken, and compensation has
not been deposited. The section aims to tackle the lack of time management by
the authorities and default on their part.
The final five judge bench judgment therefore set up the stare decisis i.e. the
settled principle of law which ought not to be disturbed. This will now help in
maintain the status quo and consistency in the cases which were earlier not
there due to different interpretation of the section.
Therefore, to conclude, I would say that the case of Indore Development
Authority Vs Manohar Lal is now the landmark judgment whose ratio decidendi
settles the interpretation of section 24 of the new act.