Land Law; Bhola Nath Sharma Vs. Union of India [Delhi High Court, 23-03-2016]

Land Acquisition Act, 1894 – Ss. 4(1), 23, 28 & 34 – Enhancement of Compensation – Interest – Directions.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI

CORAM: HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ASHUTOSH KUMAR

LA.APP. 109/2013

Date of decision: 23.03.2016

BHOLA NATH SHARMA THROUGH LRS….. Appellant Through: Mr. Dhruv Mehta, Sr. Adv. with Mr.Aman Vachher, Mr. Ashutosh Dubey, Mr. Abhishek Chauhan, Mr.Sagar Mehra, Ms.Anupama & Mr.Sagar Mehra, Advs. versus UNION OF INDIA THROUGH LAC & ANR…… Respondents Through: Mr. Sanjay Kumar Pathak, Ms.K.Kaomudi Pathak, Mr. Sunil Kumar Jha, Mr.Kushal Raj Tater, Ms.Shreya Kasera, Advs. for R-1/UOI. Mr. Kunal Sharma, Adv. for DDA.

LA.APP. 76/2013

Date of decision: 23.03.2016

ANAND PRAKASH & ORS. ….. Appellants Through: Mr. Vipin K.Singh, Advocate. versus UNION OF INDIA & ORS. …… Respondents Through: Mr. Sanjay Kumar Pathak, Ms.K.Kaomudi Pathak, Mr. Sunil Kumar Jha, Mr.Kushal Raj Tater, Ms.Shreya Kasera, Advs. for UOI.

ASHUTOSH KUMAR , J.

1. In LA.Appeal No.109/2013, the appellants Bhola Nath Sharma (deceased) through his legal representative Ms.Radha Sharma and Mr.Shambhu Nath Sharma have challenged the judgment dated 08.05.2012 passed in LAC No. 283/2011 arising out of Award No. 10/79-80 for the land acquired in village Bahapur whereby the market value of the land in question, on the date of notification under

Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act

(30.06.1978) has been assessed at Rs. 250 per sq. yds. along with interest at the rate of 6% p.a. from the date of compensation awarded by Land Acquisition Collector and 15% p.a. solatium on the enhanced amount of compensation, but without any interest on the same.

2. The appellants in LA.Appeal No.76/2013 have challenged the judgment dated 08.05.2012 passed in LAC No.285/2011 arising out of award No.224-86-87 for the land acquired in Village Bahapur whereby the same market value, compensation and interest as was done in LAC No. 283/2011 was assessed by the Reference Court. In case of the appellants in LA Appeal No.76/2013, the date of notification under Section 4 was 06.06.1978 and the date of notification under Section 6 of the Act was 28.08.1979.

3. It would be relevant here in this context to mention that against the award passed in the aforesaid case (LAC No. 285/2011), the appellants had earlier preferred LA Appeal No.48/2007. On the basis of submission made by the counsel for the parties, the Delhi High Court vide order dated 25.01.2011 remanded the case of the appellants in LA Appeal No.76/2013 to the Reference Court as it was connected with the case of the appellants in LA Appeal No.109/2013 (Bhola Nath Sharma through LRs vs. Union of India through LAC and Anr.).

4. The written statement given by the DDA in the case of Bhola Nath Sharma through LRs vs. Union of India & Anr. and other evidence were adopted in the aforesaid case (Anand Prakash and Ors vs. Union of India; LA Appeal No.76/2013).

5. Hence, both the appeals are being taken up together.

6. The appellants have challenged the aforesaid judgment on grounds of (i) complete non-application of mind; (ii) non determination of the market value of the land acquired in accordance with the evolved principles for the same; (iii) exemplars relied upon by the appellant/claimants not having been taken into account; (iv) adoption of a wrong/inaccurate approach of calculating the rent of number of years after the purchase of land, despite their being evidence of comparable sales and other evidences for computation of market value; (v) not relying upon the judgment in land acquisition case of Village Jasola, a neighbouring village where notification was issued on 15.06.1979 and in the lead case of Ram Chander & Ors vs. Union of India (RFA No.416/1986) in which the claimants were held to be entitled to compensation at the rate of Rs.2240/- per sq.yards along with solatium at the rate of 30% and interest at the rate of 9% per annum for a period of one year from the date of the collector taking possession and thereafter at the rate of 15% per annum till the date of payment along with interest on solatium in view of the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in

Sunder vs. Union of India, 2001 (7) SCC 211

and not even adverting to the judgment passed by the Delhi High Court in RFA No.65/1981 (the case of the appellant in the first round of litigation) wherein the claimants were awarded Rs.2000/- per sq.yard with interest and solatium.

7. It would be necessary to briefly state the facts and developments which have taken place in this case (Bhola Nath Sharma through LRs vs. Union of India and Anr.).

8. By notification dated 30.06.78 issued under section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Act’), the Lt. Governor of Delhi proposed the acquisition of 70 Bighas and 13 Biswas of land situated at village Bahapur for a public purpose, namely planned development of Delhi.

9. After considering the objections filed by the land owners, the Lt. Governor, Delhi issued declaration under Section 6 of the Act, which was published in the official gazette dated 19.02.79 for acquisition of 62 Bighas and 1 Biswas of land. In the award of the Land Acquisition Collector dated 25.06.79, the acquired land was divided into three separate blocks, numbered as A, B and C and different market value for each was fixed at Rs.84/- per sq.yard; Rs.63/- per sq.yard and Rs.42/- per sq. yard respectively.

10. Applications under Section 18 of the Act were filed by interested persons for referring the matter to the Court for determination of the amount of compensation. Based upon the aforesaid applications, the Land Acquisition Collector referred the matter to the Reference Court, where the case was registered as LAC No. 2/1980 (Bhola Nath and Anr. vs. UOI).

11. The reference Court, vide judgment dated 27.09.1980, disposed of the aforementioned case, holding that the claimants were entitled to compensation at the rate of Rs.175/- per sq. yard with 15% solatium and 6% interest with effect from 30.06.1978. This was with reference to Block A of the acquired land. For Blocks B and C, the Reference Court, in LAC No. 105/1984 (Smt. Narmada Devi and Ors. vs. UOI: disposed of on 14.05.1984) fixed the market value of the acquired land at the rate of Rs.129/- per sq.yard and Rs.108/- per sq.yard respectively.

12. The appellants and others challenged the aforesaid judgment of the Reference Court vide RFA No.65/1981 and 266/1984.

13. The Division Bench of the Delhi High Court in the aforesaid first Appeals, returned the verdict that the appellants were entitled to the compensation at the rate of Rs. 2000/- per sq. yard with 15% solatium and 6% interest from the date of dispossession. It may be pointed out here that by virtue of notification dated 03.06.1966 issued under the Delhi Municipal Corporation Act, the appellants were dispossessed in the month of January, 1972 only.

14. The challenge to the aforesaid judgment by the UOI and the Land Acquisition Collector vide SLP (C) No. 1608/1999 failed. The SLP was dismissed on 12.04.1999 and the review petition No. 1359/1999 was also dismissed on 13.10.1999.

15. The appellants and Smt. Narmada Devi and Ors. had also filed SLPs which, after notice, were converted into Civil Appeal Nos. 6564/2001 and 6565/2001. Later, the aforesaid civil appeals were permitted to be withdrawn. However, the cross objections filed by the Union of India and the Land Acquisition Collector were allowed to remain pending.

16. Since Delhi Development Authority (respondent No.2) was not a party to the proceedings either before the Land Acquisition Collector, or before the Reference Court or before the High Court in RFA No.65/1981, it preferred a SLP along with condonation petition, raising the plea that it was at the instance of the DDA that the land in Village Bahapur was acquired and was transferred to it under Section 22(1) of the Act for planned development of Delhi and the DDA was asked to release Rs.14,15,82,253/- for payment of compensation, thereby making DDA an interested person within the meaning of section 3(b) of the act, entitling it to have an opportunity to participate in the proceedings before the Land Acquisition Collector and the Reference Court, as is mandated under Section 50(2) of the Act. It was averred on behalf of the DDA that it learnt about the judgment of the Reference Court only in June, 1999 when it was intimated by the Land Acquisition Collector for release of the claimed amount.

17. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India allowed the petition by the DDA; set aside the judgment of the Reference Court as well as that of the High Court and directed for a fresh determination of the amount of compensation payable to the appellants herein and remitted the matter to the Reference Court for deciding the aforesaid references afresh, after giving opportunities of hearing to the parties, including an opportunity to the DDA to adduce evidence for the purposes of determining the amount of compensation.

18. The Referee Court was further directed not to be influenced by the observations contained in the judgment of the High Court as well as the Supreme Court. Considering the case to be an old one, the Reference Court was directed to decide the matter within a period of 9 months from the date of receipt of the judgment of the Supreme Court. By way of abundant precaution, the Supreme Court also directed that in case the amount of enhanced compensation determined by the Reference Court had been paid to the appellant or their predecessors, they would not be required to refund the same.

19. The cross objections in CA No.6564 & 6565/2001, referred to above were also disposed of as having become infructuous.

20. After the remand, the appellants asked for and were permitted to adopt the evidence which had been adduced in the first round of litigation. The DDA, after inspection of records, asked for Shambhu Nath (AW-4) and Munni Lal Bajaj (AW-7) to be summoned for being cross examined. The afore-cited witnesses were cross examined by the DDA and the Union of India adopted such cross-examination of the aforesaid witnesses.

21. The DDA led two witnesses in defence namely Sri Raj Singh and Sri Arun Kumar Vashishth as R2/W1 and R2/W2 respectively.

22. Before analyzing the evidence adduced on behalf of the parties and the judgment of the Reference Court, it would be necessary here in this context to refer to the relevant part of the award of the Land Acquisition Collector and the reasoning assigned by him for determining the market value of the land acquired and the compensation to which the claimants were found to be entitled to. The relevant portion of the award is quoted below: