Supreme Court of India
M/S. Competent Automobiles Co. … vs Union Of India & Ors on 26 February, 2015Bench: Vikramajit Sen, Prafulla C. Pant




CIVIL APPEAL No.5054 OF 2008





CIVIL APPEAL NOs.5100,5283,5105-5124,5101-5104,5053,5050,5052 all of 2008,
3279,3280, all of 2012, ,5127-5129,5125,,5051 all of 2008 and 3278 of 2012



1 All of these Appeals were admitted before the commencement of the
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition
Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. After commencement thereof, the
Appellants changed the tack of their challenge – originally framed under
the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 – and impugned the acquisition proceedings
in toto, by evoking the deemed lapse of proceedings under Section 24(2) of
the 2013 Act. Any determination under this provision must proceed
sequentially. First, the factum of an Award under Section 11 of the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894, must be clearly established. The said Award must
predate the commencement of the Act, i.e., 01.01.2014., by at least five
years (or more), ie., the Award must have been passed on or before
01.01.2009. This having been established, if possession is found to not
have been taken, or compensation not paid, then the proceedings shall be
deemed to have lapsed. Thereafter, the appropriate Government, if it so
chooses, may reinitiate acquisition proceedings in respect of the same
land, but under the 2013 Act’s regime.

2 Each and every deeming operation under Section 24(2) requires
unambiguously and unvaryingly that a factual conclusion be drawn about the
passing of the Award under Section 11, of the 1894 Act, on or before
01.01.2009; further, the absence of compensation having been paid or the
absence of possession having been taken by the acquirer, either of these,
must be a proven point of fact, as a threshold requirement attracting the

3 From the record, these Appeals do not unambiguously answer these
indispensable queries, which inarguably must precede any declaration of
lapse of acquisition under Section 24(2). Each of these Appeals must
factually satisfy this Court on the ingredients of Section 24(2), before
this Court may pass a declaration in recognition of the statutory lapse of

4 This Court has in a number of decisions including Pune Municipal
Corporation vs. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki (2014) 3 SCC 183, Union of
India vs. Shiv Raj (2014) 6 SCC 564 and Bimla Devi vs. State of Haryana
(2014) 6 SCC 583, clarified the manner in which the new provision is to
be interpreted viz., that the acquisition lapses.

5 It has been contended in other Appeals before this Court that the
Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,
Rehabilitation and Settlement Ordinance, 2014, issued on 31st December,
2014, clarifies that if possession of the acquired land has not been taken
owing to interim Orders passed in this regard the acquisition may be
protected and insulated from the purpose and intendment of Section 24 of
the 2013 Act. This Court has now clarified in Radiance Fincap (P) Ltd. v.
Union of India & Ors. [Civil Appeal No. 4283 of 2011 decided on 12.01.2015]
that the Ordinance shall have prospective operation only. This Court
therein held as under:
“The right conferred to the land holders/owners of the acquired land under
Section 24(2) of the Act is the statutory right and, therefore, the said
right cannot be taken away by an Ordinance by inserting proviso to the
abovesaid sub-Section without giving retrospective effect to the same.”

The legal position has been subsequently reiterated by this Court in Arvind
Bansal v. State of Haryana (Civil Appeal Nos.417-418 of 2015 decided on
13.01.2015) and Karnail Kaur v. State of Punjab [Civil Appeal No. 7424 of
2013 decided on 22.01.2015]. We are in respectful agreement with all these
decisions. In the event that there is no ambiguity that (a) the Award is
over five years old and (b) that compensation has not been paid or (c) that
possession of the land has not been taken, the acquisition is liable to be
quashed. In Rajiv Chowdhrie HUF v. Union of India [Civil Appeal No.8786
of 2013, decided on 06.02.2015], noting that the physical possession of the
land had not been taken by the Respondents, nor compensation paid by the
Respondents to the Appellant in respect whereof the Award was passed on
6.08.2007, the acquisition proceedings had been declared as having lapsed.
The same position was arrived at in Rajiv Chowdhrie HUF v. Union of India
in Civil Appeal No.8785 of 2013 decided on 10.12.2014 by a different Bench
of this Court.
5 In all these Appeals, the submission of the land owners is that
either possession is still with them, or compensation has not been tendered
by the State. Consequently, the land owners propose to initiate
proceedings founded on Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and
Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013
(hereinafter referred to as ‘the 2013 Act”).
6 Having heard all the learned counsel, we are persuaded to dispose of
these proceedings, without entering on the merits, by granting liberty to
the land owners before us to pray for the revival of the Appeals in the
event that Orders under Section 24 of the 2013 Act are adverse to their
interest. We, therefore, permit the land owners to initiate appropriate
proceedings in the proper forum/court, seeking the benefit of Section 24 of
the 2013 Act, within eight weeks from today. We clarify that, in the event
that any land owners have already approached the High Court concerned,
their plea under Section 24 of the 2013 Act shall be decided on merits.
7 It is in these circumstances that all these Appeals are disposed of
with liberty to the parties to revive these Appeals in the event that the
Orders under Section 24 of the 2013 Act are seen as adverse to their
interest. Interim protection, if already granted, shall continue for a
period of 90 days from today.
8 It is further clarified that the parties desirous of reviving the
Appeal must approach this Court within 90 days of the passing of the High
Court’s orders.
9 The Appeals stand disposed of with the aforesaid observations and


New Delhi;
February 26 , 2015.


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