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The State of Maharashtra and Ors. Vs. Moti Ratan Estate and Ors. - (Supreme Court) (04 Sep 2019)

Interim stay granted in respect of one pocket of land would operate even with respect to other pockets of land

MANU/SC/1203/2019

Land Acquisition

The State of Maharashtra have preferred the present appeals against impugned judgments passed by the High Court, by which the High Court has quashed the entire acquisition proceedings with respect to the acquired lands solely on the ground that, the acquisition has lapsed as the awards under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 were not declared within a period of two years from the date of declaration made under Section 6 of the Act.

The moot question which arises for consideration is whether the stay of action/proceedings by some of the land holders prohibiting/preventing the State authorities to make the award under Section 11 of the Act, within a statutory period of two years provided under Section 11A of the Act from declaration under Section 6 of the Act would be equally extendable to the other alike cases of land holders/persons interested/Respondents in the instant case.

When the scheme of the acquisition is one, interim stay granted in respect of one pocket of land would operate even with respect to other pockets of land. In such a situation the authorities are justified in not proceeding with the acquisition proceedings and therefore, the acquisition proceedings would not lapse. Interim order of stay granted in respect of one of the land owners would have a complete restraint for the authorities to proceed further. When the stay has been granted in one matter and where the scheme was one, the authorities were justified to stay their hands.

The extended meaning of the words "stay of the action or proceedings under Section 11A of the Act" would mean that any interim effective order passed by the court which may come in the way of the authorities to proceed further. Explanation to Section 11A of the Act is in the widest possible terms and there is no warrant for limiting the action or proceedings, referred to in the explanation, to actions or proceedings preceding the making of the award under Section 11 of the Act and therefore the period of injunction obtained by the land holders staying the acquisition and authorities from taking possession of the land has to be excluded in computing the period of two years.

It is true that, there is no bar to have more than one declaration under Section 6 or the award under Section 11 of the Act, in reference to the self-same acquisition proceedings initiated. If there is a stay of the proceedings by a Court of law in any of the matter, that certainly prevents the authorities in taking its decision to complete the acquisition proceedings within the statutory period as mandated by law in passing of award within two years from the date of declaration under Section 6 of the Act.

The High Court has erred in quashing and setting aside the acquisition proceedings on the ground that, the same have lapsed as the award was not declared within a period of two years from the date of declaration under Section 6 of the Act. The High Court has committed a grave error in not excluding the period of interim stay granted by it in writ petition. Even grant of interim stay of possession would also save lapsing of the acquisition. The impugned judgments and orders passed by the High Court are hereby quashed and set aside. Appeals allowed.

Tags : AWARD   DECLARATION   PROCEEDINGS   QUASHING OF  

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