The conditions set out in Section 24(2) of RFCTLARR Act 2013 are unqualified and it does not matter as to what was the reason behind the non-payment of compensation or for not taking possession. I
Acquisition of lands in the present matter was contended to have lapsed on account of applicability of section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (2013 Act).
The Court observed that as evident from the plain reading of Section 24 (1) of the 2013 Act that where no award under section 11 of the old (1894) Act has been made, the land acquisition proceedings initiated there under would be governed by the provisions of the 2013 Act relating to the determination of compensation and where an award has been made under section 11 of the old Act, then such proceedings would continue under the provisions of the old Act as if the old Act had not been repealed. This is, however, subject to the non-obstante provisions contained in sub-section (2) of section 24 of the 2013 Act which says that where an award under section 11 of the old Act has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of the new 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. It is also stipulated that the appropriate Government, if it so chooses, can initiate the proceedings of land acquisition afresh in accordance with the provisions of the 2013 Act.
The award in the instant cases was made more than 5 years prior to the commencement of the 2013 Act and the possession was yet to be taken and compensation was also not paid. Supreme Court’s decision in Pune Municipal Corporation was relied upon besides Bharat Kumar and Shiv Raj cases.
On the contrary it was submitted that despite the above position, the Petitioners were not entitled to the benefit of the deeming provisions under section 24(2) of the 2013 Act since possession in these cases could not be taken due to interim orders passed by this Court and because of the fact that possession could not be taken, compensation also could not be paid.
The Court held that section 24(2) of the 2013 Act is a non-obstante provision. The conditions which are required to be satisfied before the deeming provision provides that (i) The award should have been made under section 11 of the old Act, more than five years prior to the commencement of the new act; and (ii) Physical possession of the land in question should not have been taken; or (iii) The compensation should not have been paid.
The conditions set out are unqualified and it does not matter as to what was the reason behind the non-payment of compensation or for not taking possession. If the legislature wanted to qualify the above conditions by excluding the period during which the proceedings of acquisition of land were held up on account of stay or injunction by way of an order of a Court, it could have been expressly spelt out.
The deeming provision of section 24(2) is a legal fiction which is a created and an imagined situation. Once the state of affairs is imagined as real, the consequences and instances would also have to be imagined as real. Therefore, the fact that the possession could not have been taken by the respondents because of interim orders of the Court, would not in any way prevent this Court from imagining the state of affairs stipulated in Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act.
The only conditions that are required for the deeming provisions to be triggered are that the award must have been made five years or more prior to the commencement of the new Act and that either physical possession of the land has not been taken or that the compensation has not been paid.
The acquisition proceedings were accordingly held to have lapsed.
[Jagjit Singh & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors.]
(Delhi HC, 27.05.2014)