CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1351 OF 2023
State of Haryana & Ors. v. Niranjan Singh & Ors. Etc.
DATE OF ORDER:
24 February 2023
Hon’ble Mr. Justice MR Shah and Hon’ble Mr. Justice CT Ravikumar
Appellant: State of Haryana & Ors.
Respondent: Niranjan Singh & Ors. Etc.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Court’), set aside the order of the High Court and held that the lands acquired via section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, cannot be released and handed over to the original writ petitioners.
Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.
Land Acquisition Act, 1894
- Section 4 - Publication of preliminary notification and powers of officers thereupon - Whenever it appears to the [appropriate Government] that land in any locality [is needed or] is likely to be needed for any public purpose [or for a company] a notification to that effect shall be published in the Official Gazette [and in two daily newspapers circulating in that locality of which at least one shall be in the regional language], and the Collector shall cause public notice of the substance of such notification to be given at convenient places in the said locality [(the last of the dates of such publication and the giving of such public notice, being hereinafter referred to as the date of publication of the notification)].
- Section 6 - Declaration that land is required for a public purpose - Subject to the provisions of Part VII of this Act, [when the] [appropriate Government] is satisfied after considering the report, if any, made under section 5A, sub-section (2), that any particular land is needed for a public purpose, or for a Company, a declaration shall be made to that effect under the signature of a Secretary to such Government or of some officer duly authorised to certify its orders and different declarations may be made from time to time in respect of different parcels of any land covered by the same notification under section 4, sub-section (1), irrespective of whether one report or different reports has or have been made (wherever required) under section 5A, sub-section (2).
- Section 5A - Hearing of objections - Any person interested in any land which has been notified under section 4, sub-section (1), as being needed or likely to be needed for a public purpose or for a company may, [within thirty days from the date of the publication of the notification], object to the acquisition of the land or of any land in the locality, as the case may be.
- On 21.04.1987, a notification was issued by the State of Haryana u/s 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the purpose of acquiring land measuring 35.76 acres. This land was to be used for the development of a residential and commercial complex in Sector 11, Kurukshetra. This notification was followed with a declaration u/s 6 of the 1894 Act dated 20.04.1988.
- Followed by this, objections were sought from all the concerned land owners and an award was pronounced on 12.04.1990 by the Land Acquisition Collector for the land measuring 34.61 acres only. Subsequently on 11.02.2002, another notification was issued by the appellants u/s 4 of 1984 Act for acquiring the land measuring 126.30 acres for similar purposes in Sector 6 and 11, Kurukshetra.
- Thereafter, a writ petition CWP No. 371/2008 was filed by the original writ petitioners before the High Court challenging the acquisition which was dismissed vide order dated 11.01.2008 wherein, the landowners were granted liberty to file a representation before the authorities concerning the redressal of their grievance. Accordingly, a representation was filed on 22.01.2008 by the original land owners seeking release of their acquired land in the same way as other landowners whose land was released by the State. The same was dismissed by the High Court.
- The State of Haryana and Ors. (appellants) have preferred the present appeals against the impugned judgement and order passed by the High Court.
- Whether the High Court erred in directing the release of the lands in question from acquisition?
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE APPELLANT:
- The counsel for the Appellants, Mr. Alok Sangwan, submitted that the High Court has erred in allowing the release of the land in question from acquisition. It was contended that the lands were acquired after following the due procedure required under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and thereafter, the award was passed and the compensation was paid and the possession of lands was taken over by the appellants. Therefore, the High Court erred in directing the release of the acquired lands from acquisition.
- It is further contended by the appellants that the High Court failed to properly appreciate the fact that the other lands were released by the appellants after the order(s) passed by the High Court in various writ petitions.
ARGUMENTS ADVANCED BY THE RESPONDENTS:
- The Counsel for the Respondent, Neeraj Kumar Jain, submitted that except for the small portion of the land belonging to the original writ petitioners, the State Government has released majority of lands arising out of the very notification. A map to this effect was also presented by the Ld. Counsel before the Court.
- It was also argued by the respondents that out of the total land approximately 46.49 acres for which the notification was issued u/s 4, land measuring 10.83 acres was excluded at the stage of inquiry u/s 5A of the 1894 Act.
ANALYSIS BY THE COURT:
- The Ld. Court observed that the action of the appellants in releasing the lands initially in favour of influential persons and, thereafter, on the basis of various orders passed by the High Court which they never challenged demonstrates the arbitrary exercise of powers by the appellants in releasing the acquired lands which as such required for the public purposes.
- The Court also observed that consideration for future needs and expansion is a prerequisite for the utilisation and development of lands acquired for residential and commercial purposes. The expansion in future in the next 20-25 years is required to be taken into consideration and/or is required to be considered when use of such a vast land for the development of the area/new sectors are required.
- It was also noted by the Court that a large chunk of land was acquired for the purpose of development and utilisation of land as residential and commercial area in Sector 11, Kurukshetra by the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA). A total of 10.83 acres of land out of 46.49 acres of land acquired vide notification u/s 4, was excluded from acquisition at the stage of notification u/s 5A. And out of remaining 35.66 acres of land, 1.05 acres of land was released during the period between Section 6 notification and the award.
- Subsequently, after an award dated 12.04.1990, out of the remaining 34.61 acres of land, 26.83 acres of land was released. Therefore, only 7.78 acres of land is remaining and out of those 7.78 acres of land, approximately 6 acres of acquired land is under litigation. Therefore, it can be derived that the land concerning to the original writ petitioners of CWP No. 16346/2013 is only remaining small plots of the land.
It was held by the Ld. Court that the High Court erred in directing for the release of remaining lands acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Thereby, the impugned order was set aside and the appeal was allowed.