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Mohammad Yusuf and Ors. Vs. State of Haryana and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (16 Apr 2018)

Compensation should be adequate and there must be no injustice with the land owners


Land Acquisition

In facts of present case, The Government of Haryana, vide Notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 dated 18th October, 2005 has notified the land of Village Ferozpur Namak, for the construction of Mini Secretariat at District Mewat. Consequently, the Government of Haryana, vide Notification dated 25th May, 2006, issued declaration that, the land is required for a public purpose. Notice under Section 9 of the LA Act was issued to all the landholders and interested persons. The Land Acquisition Collector (LAC), assessed the market value of the acquired land at the uniform rate of Rs. 16 lakhs per acre along with 30% solatium and 12% additional amount to the landholders.

Being aggrieved, the Appellants filed a Reference under Section 18 of the LA Act before the Land Acquisition Collector-cum-SDO(C) Nuh, Mewat. The Reference Court, enhanced the compensation to Rs. 72,00,000 lakhs per acre and applied the development cut at the rate of 55% and a further cut of 5% on account of waiting period, totalling to 60%. Thus, the compensation was determined at Rs. 28,80,000/- per acre along with the statutory benefits.

Being not satisfied, the Appellants herein preferred a Regular First Appeal (RFA) alongwith other set of appeals before the High Court. The High Court, vide common judgment partly allowed the appeals of the landholders by enhancing the compensation to Rs. 64,80,000 per acre along with other benefits while dismissing the cross appeals filed by the Respondent-State. The landholders, being aggrieved by the judgment has preferred instant appeals by way of special leave before present Court.

The intention behind the enactment of the LA Act, 1894 was to acquire land for welfare purposes and to compensate the owners adequately. The term "compensation" was interpreted by present Court in a number of cases that, it is to be "a just equivalent of what the owner has been deprived of." Hence, the acquisition must pass the test of compensation being reasonable, just and fair. The term justice as enshrined in the preamble includes justice in economic terms and the term economic justice in itself mandatorily requires compensation to be adequate.

In a catena of cases, present Court has held that compensation should be adequate and there must be no injustice with the land owners since they stand deprived from their very vital right i.e., Right to Property. At the same time, it is also to be kept in mind that, no hypothetical view shall be taken as it may be harmful to the public exchequer in case of acquisition for public purposes. Hence, Courts must maintain balance between both the parties. In the cases of land acquisitions, generally courts confronted with the short but important question that what ought to be the ideal market value for the acquired land.

On a plain reading of Section 23 of the LA Act, it is evident that, the compensation has to be calculated according to the value of the land to the owner and the question to be considered is whether the person from whom the land was taken was to lose by having it taken from him. The probable use to which the land might be put was necessarily an element to be taken into consideration for calculating the compensation of acquired land. The land owners get compensation on the basis of the value of the land, in its actual condition at the time of the publication of the Notification under Section 4 of the LA Act.

In the instant case, the Appellants contented that the valuation of the acquired land should be assessed on urban land criteria since land had all basic amenities like water, sewer, electricity and telephone lines were already present on the date of Notification under Section 4of the LA Act. It is a well settled law that when there are several exemplars with reference to similar land, usually the highest of the exemplars which is a bonafide transaction, will be considered. The acquired land in the present case falls within the control area of Nuh and newly constructed Nalhar Medical College is at a distance of 3-4 kms from the acquired land. The said acquired land is situated on Palwal Road from one side and on Delhi Road on the other. However, it is a matter of record that such acquired land is far away from D.C. office and other offices. Also, Bus Stand as well as Nuh Town is situated far away from the acquired land. Hence, acquired land of Firozpur village in such terms cannot be said to be situated very near to the urban area of Nuh Town. The compensation granted at the rate of Rs. 72 lacs per acre is as per the law and no injustice has been occurred to the Appellants.

It is well settled position that all deductions should not cumulatively be exceeded the upper benchmark of 75% and at the same time, it should be kept in mind that no hypothetical view shall be taken in order to calculate the percentage of the development charges.

In the present case, the Appellants contended that the acquired land has all basic facilities such as water, electricity, sewer, telephone etc which Respondent-State has not disputed. These are, however, not enough to meet the purpose of acquisition. To make such land suitable for the acquisition purpose i.e. for the construction of Mini Secretariat at Nuh, some further development is sine qua non. For calculating the percentage of development charges, various factors need to be taken into consideration such as location of land, facilities available in nearby area, size of the land, purpose of acquisition etc. The present acquired land of Firozpur Namak village which is located at some distance from the Nuh Town needs to be developed in proper manner like construction of better and wide roads etc., to make it suitable for the acquisition purposes. The fact that facilities already available such as sewer, electricity etc., seems to be taken into consideration properly while reducing the development charges by the High Court from 60% to 10%.

A cut at the rate of 10% is very reasonable towards development of acquired land as some further development would be required to make it fit for the purpose for which it was acquired. The appeals are dismissed.


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