Land Acquisition Act: Supreme Court to begin hearing merits of case from November 6

Land Acquisition Act: Supreme Court to begin hearing merits of case from November 6

Shruti Mahajan

A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on the merits of the case concerning Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (Land Acquisition Act, 2013) from November 6.

Justice Arun Mishra, who is heading the Constitution Bench, refused to recuse from hearing the case vide an order passed this morning. Concurring opinions were also penned by the other judges on the Bench.

The Constitution Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Vineet Saran, Indira Banerjee, MR Shah, and Ravindra Bhat decided to take up the case for hearing on the aspect of framing of issues at 2 PM today.

The parties to the litigation submitted their questions for consideration by the Bench. Broadly, the interpretation of Section 24 of the Land Acquisition Act along with its provisos, and the true meaning of phrases in relation to depositing compensation in the account of the beneficiary were among the questions put forth.

Justice Mishra, while making an observation that the Act is meant for benefitting the farmers and land owners and not the developers, said that the Court will begin hearing on the merits of the case on a different date.

At the suggestion made by the counsel for various parties, the Court fixed the date for hearing on November 6 to ensure that there is no break in the arguments on account of the Diwali vacation.

The main case stems from the Supreme Court’s judgment in, Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra (Dead) Through Lrs. And Ors, which was delivered on February 8, 2018 by a three-judge Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, AK Goel and M Shantanagoudar. This Bench had, by a 2:1 majority, held that a 2014 judgment passed by the Supreme Court in the Pune Municipal Corporation case, was per incuriam.

In the process, the Court had answered five questions in relation to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013 and 1894.

However, the catch was that the Pune Municipal Corporation judgment was also rendered by a three-judge Bench of Justices Madan Lokur and Kurian Joseph, as well former Chief Justice of India RM Lodha.

This created a minor controversy.  Eventually, the matter was directed to be placed before the Chief Justice by two Benches headed by Justice Mishra and Justice Goel. The matter was then ordered to be placed before a Constitution bench.

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