Land Acquisition; Ranveer Singh Vs. State of U.P. [Supreme Court of India, 22-07-2016]

Land Acquisitions Act, 1894 – Uttar Pradesh Land Acquisition (Determination of Compensation and Declaration of Award by Agreement) Rules, 1997 – Agreement of the Land Owners – Compensation amount is accepted without protest – Effect of – Award of the Collector – Held, the Collector is competent to make an award as per agreement without making further enquiry – In view of such clear provision that permits agreement to determine all the matters to be included in the award, all the inclusions and omissions in the consent award must be treated as based upon agreement of the parties and the final amount determined by way of agreement must be taken as a completely just compensation inclusive of the statutory interest payable to the claimant for the concerned land at least on the date of agreement. Since the agreed compensation amount is accepted without protest with a clear stipulation not to claim any additional amount, it has to be deemed that the compensation reflected in the consent award has taken into account all relevant factors including interest till the date of agreement. Moreover the right to seek reference for enhancement itself gets lost by accepting the compensation without protest especially when there is an agreement that the land owner shall not claim any amount in addition to the amount agreed upon as compensation and shall accept the compensation without any protest. In such circumstances agreed amount has to be treated as a just compensation permitting no addition or substitution whatsoever. In other words, not only the remedy under the Act of seeking enhancement is lost but the substantive cause of action also vanishes when the land owner agrees for a consent award and the amount of compensation is accepted without any protest.


IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

[SHIVA KIRTI SINGH] AND [A.M. KHANWILKAR] JJ.

July 22, 2016

CIVIL APPEAL NO. 13324 OF 2015

Ranveer Singh …..Appellant

Versus

State of U.P. Through Secy. & Ors. …Respondents

J U D G M E N T

SHIVA KIRTI SINGH, J.

1. This appeal arising out of special leave has been preferred by the original writ petitioner whose land was acquired by the authorities of the State of Uttar Pradesh under the provisions of

Land Acquisitions Act, 1894

(hereinafter referred as ‘the Act’) on the basis of an agreement for compensation dated 27.2.2003 followed by instant payment of such compensation. The appellant subsequently claimed interest under Section 34 of the Act from the date 15.2.2001 when admittedly the possession of the land was taken over by the State Authorities and till 27.2.2003, the date of payment. The claim was rejected by the concerned District Magistrate of Gautam Budh Nagar vide an order dated 6.8.2005 passed pursuant to order of High Court dated 12.04.2005 in appellant’s earlier writ petition No.38951 of 2002. That claim again made through subsequent writ petition bearing No. 60992 of 2005 has been rejected on merits by the judgment and order under appeal passed by the Division Bench of the High Court of Judicature at Allahabad on 22.5.2014.

2. There is no material dispute over facts and hence it would suffice to notice that as per pleadings of the parties, appellant’s land in Plot No. 203, area 30 bigha 12 biswa and plot No. 209, area 1 biswa in village Parthala, Khanjarpur District Gautam Budh Nagar (U.P.) was acquired by issuing notification under Section 4 read with Section 17 dated 1.6.2000 and a declaration under Section 6 dated 30.12.2000 of the Act. The possession of the land was taken on 15.2.2001. After taking possession, proceedings for determination of payment of compensation on the basis of agreement was initiated. On account of information received by the Additional District Magistrate Land Acquisition Noida, Gautam Budh Nagar from DGC (Civil) that appellant had land in excess of the ceiling limit, inquiries and opinion for entering into an agreement became necessary. Ultimately on 7.2.2003 it became clear that appellant had no land in excess of the ceiling area and that cleared the path for signing the agreement on 27.2.2003 for payment of compensation in terms of agreement as per

Uttar Pradesh Land Acquisition (Determination of Compensation and Declaration of Award by Agreement) Rules, 1997

(hereinafter referred to as the “Rules of 1997”). As agreed, the entire compensation of Rs.1,37,58,350/- was paid on the same date. The appellant accepted the said amount without any demur or protest. At that time the earlier writ petition No.38951 of 2002 for claiming compensation was pending. Claim for interest under Section 34 was subsequently added in that writ petition through an amendment. The writ petition was disposed of with liberty to the petitioner to file a representation and as noticed earlier the same was rejected by the District Magistrate by a speaking order dated 6.8.2005.

3. In the aforesaid facts the sole issue for determination remains as to whether, after entering into an agreement under the Rules of 1997 and accepting the agreed amount without any protest or demand for further interest, the appellant can claim interest on the ground of Section 34 of the Act for the period that had already lapsed between taking of possession and signing of the agreement/payment of compensation. Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 reads as under:-

34. Payment of interest

When the amount of such compensation is not paid or deposited on or before taking possession of the land, the Collector shall pay the amount awarded with interest thereon at the rate of [nine per centum] per annum from the time of so taking possession until it shall have been so paid or deposited:

[Provided that if such compensation or any part thereof is not paid or deposited within a period of one year from the date on which possession is taken, interest at the rate of fifteen per centum per annum shall be payable from the date of expiry of the said period of one year on the amount of compensation or part thereof which has not been paid or deposited before the date of such expiry.]”

4. The appellant relied heavily upon the aforesaid provision of law to support his claim for interest. In addition, learned senior counsel has raised a plea based on equity that there is no good reason why the appellant should not be compensated for loss of possession when there is a considerable delay in entering into agreement and payment of compensation. It has been further urged that the District Magistrate has erred in rejecting the representation of the appellant. On the other hand, learned counsel for the respondent has defended the judgment of the High Court by submitting that it suffers from no error of fact or law. He pointed out that as per the agreement, the appellant accepted to receive the consolidated amount which included components of additional amount at the rate of 12% and solatium at the rate of 30% contemplated under various sub-sections of Section 23 of the Act and thereafter in the same agreement, as an owner he agreed that he shall not claim any amount in addition to the amount agreed upon as disclosed in the agreement as compensation and accepted the amount without any protest. The relevant clause 3 in the agreement is as follows:

“Clause 3.- That the owner and the interested party shall not claim any amount in addition to the amount agreed upon as aforesaid as compensation and accept it without any protest.”

5. It has been also urged by the learned counsel for the State that the appellant was free to take benefit of all provisions of the Act including Section 34 by opting for an usual award under Section 11(1) of the Act but instead he chose to accept the expeditious route of entering into an agreement and getting the payment immediately as per the Rules of 1997. Thereafter, as per agreement he is debarred from claiming any further amount or to raise any protest before any forum on any basis, including on account of interest.

6. Learned senior counsel for the appellant has placed reliance upon the judgment in the case of