Interpretation of Proviso to s.24 of Land Acquisition Act 2013

Supreme Court of India Judgments:
Indore Devlopment Authority Vs Shailendra [IDA 2018]
PMC Vs Harakchand [PMC2014]
DMRC Vs Tarun Pal Singh [DMRC2019]
DDA Vs Bahri [DDA2019]

An Analysis of how the interpretations are made of section 24 of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act2013 [RCLR] and Land Acquisition Act 1894 [LAA].

Shall Pay/Payment/Tender Payment/Paid as used in RCLR and LAA:

The word "Tender of payment" & "and Shall Pay" is used in s/31(1) of LAA. While s/24(2) of RCLR uses the word "has not been PAID".

First

Under s/31 LAA the Land Acquisition officer has to "Tender of payment" & "and Shall Pay". Therefore both the criteria have to be met.

Second

  1. s/24(2) of RCLR uses the word "has not been PAID".
  2. In this regard a simple grammatical user of "paid" is: [a] it is a past particle, [b] and it is past tense. A reading of any simple English Dictionary or Grammar book will clarify this position of English Language. Further the use of word "has"
  3. So simply put for the purpose of section 24(2) of RCLR if the beneficiary under the Award have not received the compensation, there is lapsing of Award. Any other interpretation of word "paid", will be fraud on citizens.
  4. The prefix "has not" makes it further clear that in present perfect tense, and not paid. Further the use of 5 years connects to "has not". To add to this there is use of word "been" which is grammatically a past perfect tense. All these words together "has not been PAID" clearly only means the transaction is over, "lock stock and barrel" completed.  
  5. Therefore paid is to be interpreted for the purpose of s/24(2) is not the provisions of s/31(1) of LAA; but the simple English user of past perfect tense.
  6. Critically speaking, first there is bending of these whole set of words "has not been PAID" in para 17 in PMC2014 to "not offered" which is then, twisted to fictional extent in IDA2018.
  7. It is cardinal principle of any legislative interpretation that, the words have to be read/interpreted in such a way that a normal citizen with understanding of grammar and English language, would interpret words in statute. The fictional meaning through bending/twisting is against the principle of Certainty of Law, and is also hit by Article 14 of Constitution of India. 
  8. In this regard it will be apt to quote (1938) 1 All ER 786:

There is no warrant for the fiction that in such cases the interest can, by the mere process of being capitalized, be said to have been paid. Lord Atkin observed

"The question is whether when the charges are added to the existing indebtedness at the end of one half-year and the whole sum brought down as a debit item at the beginning of the next half-year so that interest is charged on the last half-year's interest, the charges have been paid. The ordinary man would, I think, say that so far from being paid they are added to the ordinary indebtedness because they are not paid and I can see no reason why the law should say anything different"

  1. To put it in other words, the Test is of "Ordinary Mans understanding". This is so because, it is legislative and judicial duty to see, what the ordinary man would read out of the words in the statute. Interpret it in simplest manner; and make & take decision/acts/deeds in natural meaning and understanding of the words in the statute.
  2. If for every meaning there will be fictional definitions bent and twisted; the words of law, will lose their status of WORD OF LAW, and would become a mere FACT. This will make the law avoidable as "Mistake in Fact of interpretation of words". If there is no legislative/judicial consensus why should the citizens not have different interpretations?

Applicability of Proviso at the end of s/24 to s/24(2) of RCLR:

The full text of S/24(2) with proviso is quoted as under.

Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1), in case of land acquisition proceedings initiated under the Land Acquisition Act, 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 the 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

  1. I have purposely shown the colon[:] with big font for purpose of showing the connection of proviso[underlined], as a senior person had brought this punctuation mark to my attention, and that it probably connects s/24(2) to the proviso. Let me however clarify the simple usage of the language of s/24(2) with the proviso, and the connecting colon[:] punctuation. For this purpose I am assuming that the proviso is part of s/24(2).
  2. As I have quoted above, there are 2 parts of s/24(2). As is clear from the underlined italics above; the lapsing is complete on satisfaction of any of the 2 factors i.e. possession not taken OR compensation "has not been paid" [as per simple English in Part A above]. Thus lapsing is clearly the dominant legislative intent in this part. There can be no dispute about it.
  3. Now coming to the proviso; can the proviso come into existence without the second part of s/24(2) being made alive by the Govt? I.E. without the Govt initiating new/fresh acquisition under RCLR, the proviso will not apply at all.
  4. So unless the Govt initiates new/fresh acquisition under RCLR, the minority beneficiaries [all beneficiary as used in proviso] cannot be paid same compensation under RCLR.
  5. Thus the proviso is a beneficial legislation for the minority beneficiary as and when the second part of the s/24(2) i.e. new/fresh acquisition is initiated by the Govt under RCLR.
  6. Thus simply stated, the use of punctuation [:] and sin qua non preceding of new/fresh process of acquisition; the proviso can only comes to life, if Govt initiates new/fresh acquisition under RCLR.
  7. So, if the Govt initiates new/fresh acquisition under RCLR and MVis determined in accordance with s/26 of RCLR, the Govt  is bound to give the all beneficiaries under s/4 notification of LAA, compensation under RCLR as per the new/fresh acquisition proceedings. Thus the minorities will be entitled to additional compensation in their Reference.

Other factors on Proviso

  1. The proviso above is not independent section. A proviso is subservient to the main section and connected to it, and therefore cannot be read as independent section.
  2. The Proviso doesn’t speak on its effect on lapsing nor it overreaches lapsing and cannot be given such additional tooth of words.
  3. Without there being new/fresh award under RCLR the proviso doesn’t come into life.
  4. While interpreting there is no need to make permutation & combination. Infact permutations and combinations are speculative and are used for probabilities and statistics. Interpretation is realtime application on which lives of people is dependent. The simple algorithm of legal process applies, & not bending/twisting paraphrasing.

This is in addition to my previous article: Land Acquisition Act 2013 - Critical Analysis of Feb 18 SC Judgment in Indore Dev Authority

 

Published in Constitutional Law
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