Applicablitity of Section 24 of new land acquisition Act discussed in view of circular dated 14th March, 2014
The present matter was in regard to disposal of objections under Section 5-A of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894. Delhi High Court vide its impugned judgment had quashed the land acquisition proceedings by holding that the objections filed by the tenure holders under Section 5A were not considered by the statutory authorities in strict compliance of principles of natural justice and thus, the subsequent proceedings stood vitiated. The objections were heard by one collector and the report was submitted by another (successor) collector and accordingly the proceedings were held to have stood vitiated.
As observed by Court, section 5-A of the Act 1894 embodies a very just and wholesome principle that a person whose property is being or is intended to be acquired should have a proper and reasonable opportunity of persuading the authorities concerned that acquisition of the property belonging to that person should not be made. Section 5-A of the Act 1894 confers a valuable right in favour of a person whose lands are sought to be acquired and accordingly, hearing given to a person must be an effective one and not a mere formality. The Land Acquisition Collector is duty-bound to objectively consider the arguments advanced by the objector and make recommendations, duly supported by brief reasons, as to why the particular piece of land should or should not be acquired and whether the plea put forward by the objector merits acceptance. The very person/officer, who accords the hearing to the objector must also submit the report/ take decision on the objection and in case his successor decides the case without giving a fresh hearing, the order would stand vitiated having been passed in violation of the principles of natural justice.
Thus, the mandatory language of Section 5-A of the Act 1894 made it essential that the collector who hears the land owner must submit the report and, hence, no question of prejudice could be said to be applicable in determining the violation of principles of natural justice.
In regard to applicability of newly enacted 2013 Act, the Court while referring the provision of Section 24 of the 2013 Act also took note of the circular dated 14.3.2014 issued by Government of India (Ministry of Urban Development, Delhi Division) which clarified the interpretation of five years period on the issue of applicability of new Act and in view of the facts of the present case the 2013 Act was held to be not applicable.
[Union of India vs. Shiv Raj & Ors.]