The recent land acquisition issue of Greater Noida in 2011 or the Singur land acquisition case of West Bengal that shook the whole political scenario of India are some of the significant land acquisition instances picturised in India.
In a densely populated country like India, land is indeed a scarce resource and the government is entitled to formulate provisions, guidelines and regulations to take up privately owned land for public purposes at a market value for further infrastructural development in those areas.
Meaning of Land Acquisition
The central or State government acquires land from the land owners for infrastructural development and economic growth with an objective of public benefit. In return the government is accountable for the rehabilitation and resettlement of such land owners. Notwithstanding the fact that the government has to pay a compensation equivalent to the market value to the land owners.
However, it seems to be a general rule for the state to compel the owners for the submission of their property to the state or any agency or entity authorised by the state to fulfil certain public purposes.
The rationale behind the introduction of land acquisition is the merit of utilitarianism that puts forth the significance of community good in comparision to the right of individuals to hold property. This concept has been adopted from the maxim “salus propuli est suprema lex” which connotes the fact that public welfare is paramount in law. With the marxim keeping in mind, several legislations have been farmed but The Land Acquisitions Act, 1894 has drawn immense concentration. Additionally, the concept of land acquisition is categorised in the concurrent list which implies the provision given to both the centre and the state government to legislate laws on this subject.
The British made Act relating to land acquisition lacked many essential provisions relating to the settlement grants given to the original owners of the land owing to a complete havoc and grievances among the citizens of India. This required for the development of a new Act namely, The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.
Features of the Land Acquisition Act
- Aims to fulfil public purposes – Government acquires privately owned land for public welfare and larger good including public sector undertakings and strategic aims, infrastructural developments etc. This can also be a result of a joint venture of public and private sector called Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects but has to annex the due permission of the landholders.
- Grant of Compensation – The Act provides for the grant of due compensation to land owners and other project related people in return of this consent for utilising their land for social welfare by the government.
- Assessing social consequences – There is a much needed social impact assessment of any project to ascertain the environmental situation under Environmental Laws. It initiates with the evaluation of the livelihood and the amenities enjoyed by the project affected families. The government has to examine if the public purpose outweigh the social impediments in regard to the introduction of such projects with the help of established local bodies and public hearings.
- Urgency clause – The Act provides for an urgency clause whereby the government is entitled to take possession before the grant of compensation as required by the defence department, emergency situations arising out of natural calamities, national security or any other emergency condition, with the prior approval of the Parliament.
Few Prominent Purposes of Land Acquisition
- Catering to the state’s need for national defence, security services.
- Building public infrastructure
- Mandating agrarian services.
- Opening up industrial and manufacturing projects.
- Executing water conservation or housing development plans.
Process of Land Acquisition in India
The Act enumerates the detailed procedure of Land acquisition in India in the following ways hereinunder provided :-
Section 4(1) of the Act provides for the express intention of the government, be it state or central to acquire land for the purposes mentioned above.
Section 5(A) of the Act invites objection to the said acquisition which has to submitted within 30 days from the date of publication of the notice under section 4 of the Act and has to be mandatorily disposed of by the District Controller. Therefore, due permission is indeed required from the landowners.
Section 6 of the Act provides that the State government has to declare its will for intended acquisition of the land.
This whole process has to be accomplished within one year.
Section 7 of the Act contends that the collector with due direction of the commissioner takes order for acquisition of the land.
Section 8 of the Act States that if under any condition, the land is not marked at the time of notification made under section 4, the plan after every evaluation is made and is handed over to the collector.
Thereafter, section 9 of the Act provides that the collector has to notify the interested persons with a formal declaration that the government is willing to take possession of their lands in return of a fair compensation and thus the collector has to note the compensations and interests claimed by the landowners on their lands.
Following this, the collector under Section 11 of the Act makes award after making enquiries into the complaints.
Section 11A provides that the award as started above has to be made within 2 years from the date of publication of declaration stated under section 6 of the Act.
Section 16 states that the land vests within the possession of the government through the collector without any encumbrance. Following this, the land then is delivered to the company under (instruction no.103) of The Land Acquisition Manual.
Section 18 of the Act refers to a land Acquisition Court where the disputes regarding amount of compensation, refusal to receive compensation etc are adjudicated. If the Land Acquisition Judge enhances the compensation amount, interest of 9% on the first and 15% on the second year has to be paid from the date on which the collector took possession of land to the date of payment of such excess amount through the court as per Section 28 of the Act.
Section 23 of the Act states the elements which should be taken into consideration while deciding the compensation amount.
- Market value of the land on the date of publication of notification under section 4(1) of the Act.
- Granting consolation of 30% on the market value of such land.
- Enhancing 12% p.a subject to maximum 3 years from the date of notification to declaration of award.
Section 54 of the Act states the provision of appeals before the Hon’ble High Court against any decision made by the Land Acquisition Court.
If the procedure mentioned above is not followed within the limited time frame, the proposal will lapse and the process has to be started afresh.
Relevant Case Laws
In Khub Chand v State of Rajasthan, (1967)1 SCR 120, the court held that the publication of the notification mentioned under section 4(1) of the Act is an indispensable condition for a valid acquisition.
In Satnam Singh v State of Punjab (1969) 9 Cur. L.J 75 at P 74 (P& H), the court observed that issuance of notice is a requisite condition to grant power to the officer and other public servants to make entry and if such condition is not complied then the entry too becomes illegal.
In Habib Ahmed v State of Uttar Pradesh, AIR 1965 All. 344 at P. 345, the court held that the notification or declaration cannot be quashed on the ground that there is no requirement of acquiring the land for public purposes as the sole authority is the state government who has to determine whether the land is required for a public purpose or not.
Although certain protests like Nandigram issue or Narmada Bachao Andolan have come out from land Acquisition but the positive attributes of the same can be seen in Gujrat or Bangalore which have now become corporate hubs & add massive input in country’s economic growth. It is true that initially the wishes of the land owners were completely denied but currently law tries to provide remedies. With the enactment of The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, the contemporary socio-economic goals and political agendas are established maintaining harmonization with the consent and of the landowners.
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