As per Section 24 of the L A ACT 2013 it is clear that Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not exclude any period during which the land acquisition proceeding might have remained stayed on account of stay or injunction granted by any court.
It was contended in the instant matter that in view of the non obstante clause in sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the 2013 Act that notwithstanding an award passed under Section 11 of the Act in respect of acquisition proceedings under challenge, such proceedings cannot continue under the provisions of the Act because the award was made more than five years earlier and undisputedly physical possession of the land of the concerned claimants has not been taken as yet. It was further contended that proceedings have lapsed because in several cases the alleged payment is only by way of deposit in treasury and not by deposit in Court, as required by law.
State on the other hand produced some charts and documents to submit that compensation was deposited in several cases with the concerned Civil Court also and in some cases the payments were accepted by the land owners. However, in respect of one case an amount was shown to be lying in Revenue deposit whereas only for a small portion of land an amount was in Civil Court deposit. However, physical possession of the land admittedly was not taken over by the State and on that account alone, the land acquisition proceeding under challenge would have to be treated or declared as lapsed unless State could prove that it was prevented from taking physical possession of the lands on account of interim orders passed by the Court.
As per Section 24 of the 2013 Act it is clear that Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act does not exclude any period during which the land acquisition proceeding might have remained stayed on account of stay or injunction granted by any court. Proviso to Section 19(7) in the context of limitation for publication of declaration under Section 19(1) and the Explanation to Section 69(2) for working out the market value of the land in the context of delay between preliminary notification under Section 11 and the date of the award, specifically provide that the period or periods during which the acquisition proceedings were held up on account of any stay or injunction by the order of any court be excluded in computing the relevant period.
Legislature has consciously omitted to extend the period of five years indicated in Section 24(2) even if the proceedings had been delayed on account of an order of stay or injunction granted by a court of law or for any reason. Even in the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, the Legislature had brought about amendment in Section 6 through an Amendment Act of 1984 to add Explanation 1 for the purpose of excluding the period when the proceeding suffered stay by an order of the court, in the context of limitation provided for publishing the declaration under Section 6(1) of the Act. To a similar effect was Explanation to Section 11A which was added by Amendment Act 68 of 1984. Clearly the Legislature has, in its wisdom, made the period of five years under Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act absolute and unaffected by any delay in the proceedings on account of any order of stay by a court. The plain wordings used by the Legislature are clear and do not create any ambiguity or conflict. In such a situation, the court is not required to depart from the literal rule of interpretation.
There is nothing in the language of the proviso to restrict the meaning of the words used in Section 24(2) mandating that the proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed if the award is five years or more than five years’ old but the physical possession of the land has not been taken over or the compensation has not been paid. The law is trite that when the main enactment is clear and unambiguous, a proviso can have no effect so as to exclude from the main enactment by implication what clearly falls within its express terms.
It was observed that though there is lack of clarity on the issue whether compensation has been paid for majority of land holdings under acquisition or not, there is no dispute that physical possession of the lands belonging to the claimants under consideration in these appeals has not been taken by the State or any other authority on its behalf and more than five years have elapsed since the making of the award when the 2013 Act came into force. Therefore, the conditions mentioned in Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act stood satisfied for allowing the plea of claimants that the land acquisition proceedings must be deemed to have lapsed in terms of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act.
[Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Association vs. State of Tamil Nadu & Ors.]