He said that the March 14 judgement by a two-judge Supreme Court bench deals with land acquisition which had been pending for over the prescribed five year period (in the retrospective clause-section 24).
“In this case, the award had been passed in 1995 and the parties had still not accepted compensation or parted with possession. In light of this, the Supreme Court, relying on the retrospective clause, ordered the return of the land to the original owners,” the Minister said in a release here.
The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, enacted by Parliament in September last year to provide just and fair compensation to those whose land is taken away for constructing roads, buildings or factories, had come into force from January 1, replacing the 120-year-old legislation.
Ramesh also said that the Supreme Court had passed a similar judgement on the new law on February 2.
“This judgement also relates to the operation and interpretation of Section-24 –the retrospective clause. The learned bench overturned a 2004 judgement of the Punjab and Haryana High Court (which had upheld a long pending acquisition) and quashed the quashed the acquisition, returning the land to the original owners,” he said.
Welcoming the judgements, the Minister said, “This demonstrates the Hon’ble Supreme Court has drawn clear and humane lines for the implementation of a very significant clause in the law.”
“These add to the growing list of important precedents which will have a far-reaching impact on those who have suffered historically from arbitrary acquisitions and give life to the intention behind the new law,” he said.
Ramesh said both these cases are important because while in the Pune Municipal Corporation case (the first judgement by Supreme Court in January on new land acquisition law) dealt only with the question of where compensation had been paid or not, “these two new judgements also go into question of where the parties have held on to physical possession of the land”.
“In both these cases, the Supreme Court has returned the land in acknowledgement of the fact that, in addition to compensation not being accepted, the physical possession of the land had also not been given away,” the Minister said.
“As a result the learned Supreme Court has upheld the retrospective clause in its entirely viz. compensation and physical possession,” he added.