Delhi Development Authority vs. Damini Wadhwa and Ors.
Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 7962 of 2022
Judges Name: Hon’ble Judges M.R. Shah, M.M. Sundresh J.
Order dated: 04.11.2022
Facts of the Case:
- Damini Wadhwa, the respondent No. 1 herein – original writ petitioner filed a writ petition before the High Court against Delhi Development Authority seeking a declaration that the acquisition with respect to the suit lands, i.e., Khasra No. 589 (1-8), 1 bigha and 8 biswas (out of 4 bighas) situated in the Revenue Estate of Village Maidan Garhi, NCT of Delhi, is deemed to have lapsed by virtue of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013. The said land was notified to be acquired u/s 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 on 25.11.1980; declaration under Section 6 of the Act, 1894 was issued on 07.06.1985; and award came to be declared by the Collector on 17.06.1987.
- Several writ petitions were filed before the HC which were dismissed upholding the acquisition proceedings. But in one set of writ petitions, there was difference of opinion and these cases were referred to the third Judge, which came to be dismissed on 11.05.2007. These cases were decided in favour of the landowners and the notification under Section 6 and subsequent acquisition proceedings were quashed. However, in the case of Om Parkash Vs. Union of India and Ors., the court upheld the acquisition proceedings. Thus, the acquisition qua the lands in question attained finality. Thereafter, a writ petition was filed by the respondents herein. The HC declared that the acquisition proceedings with respect to the lands in question is deemed to have been lapsed by virtue of Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, as neither the compensation has been paid nor the possession of the lands in question has been taken over. This gave rise to the present appeal.
Supreme Court observed/held:
- The counsel for the Appellant, Delhi Development Authority, submitted that the original writ petitioner had no locus at all to file the WP before the HC challenging the acquisition and/or praying for declaration. The original writ petitioner filed the writ petition on the basis of the Agreement to Sell dated 22.05.2016, which does not inspire any confidence. Even otherwise the said Agreement to Sell was much after the acquisition proceedings were initiated under the provisions of the Act, 1894. As held by this Hon’ble Court in the case of Delhi Development Authority Vs. Godfrey Phillips (I) Ltd. & Ors., purchaser is not entitled to claim lapsing of acquisition proceedings under the Act, 2013. The High Court has not at all appreciated the fact that the possession of the substantial portion of the lands acquired was taken over. However, with respect to small parcels of lands, the possession could not be taken over because of the pending litigations. According to the case of Indore Development Authority Vs. Manoharlal and Ors., once the authority could not take the possession due to pending litigations, there is no question of attracting Section 24(2) of the Act”
- The counsel for the Respondents submitted that “considering the fact that neither the possession was taken over nor the compensation was paid/tendered, as rightly observed and held by the Hon’ble High Court, Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013 shall be attracted and, therefore, there shall be deemed lapse of the acquisition. Therefore, no error has been committed by the Hon’ble High Court in allowing the writ petition.”
- The Hon’ble court observed that “the Agreement to Sell was of the year 2016 and considering the fact that the notification under Section 4 of the Act, 1894 was issued on 25.11.1980, therefore, it is apparent that the original writ petitioner allegedly derived the interest in the lands in question much after the acquisition proceedings were initiated and therefore, the respondent No. 1 – original writ petitioner can be said to be subsequent purchaser but according to the case laws, the subsequent purchaser has no right to claim lapse of acquisition proceedings. In the recent decision of this Court in the case of Delhi Development Authority v. Godfrey Phillips (I) Ltd., Civil appeal No. 3073 of 2022 after considering the other decisions on the right of the subsequent purchaser to claim lapse of acquisition proceedings, i.e., Meera Sahni v. Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, and M. Venkatesh v. Commissioner, Bangalore Development Authority, it was specifically observed and held that subsequent purchaser has no right to claim lapse of acquisition proceedings. Similar view has been expressed by the Larger Bench judgment of this Court in the case of Shiv Kumar v. Union of India.
- Under the circumstances and as observed and held by the supreme Court in the case of Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal, there cannot be any lapse of acquisition under Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013 on the ground of possession could not be taken over by the authority and/or the compensation could not be deposited/tendered due to the pending litigations. Under these circumstances also, the Judges observed that the High Court has erred in allowing the writ petition and declaring that the acquisition with respect to the lands in question is deemed to have lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Act, 2013. Therefore, the bench declared the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is unsustainable both on facts as well as on law.
- In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present appeal succeeded. The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court dated 25.07.2017 in Writ Petition (Civil) No. 11735 of 2016 was quashed and set aside. Consequently, the writ petition before the High Court being Writ Petition (C) No. 11735 of 2016 stood dismissed.