Day 7: 20 November 2019
Day 7 of oral arguments saw counsels for the following parties make their submissions: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, State of Tamil Nadu, and State of New Delhi, as well as two intervenors. The submissions made today, in most parts, were similar to the submissions advanced by the Solicitor General (SG) in the last three days of the hearings.
Payment to the Land Development Authority constitutes payment: Delhi Metro Rail Corporation
The primary submission of the Corporation was that they should be provided immunity from the lapsing of acquisition proceedings. It was argued that otherwise, the projects that have already been initiated would be derailed.
Thereafter, the Counsel explained to the Bench that in the case of acquisitions for the Corporation, the land legally vests with the Land and Development Authority. Given this, it was submitted that as long as the compensation is tendered to the Development Authority, payment for the purpose of S.24 must be considered to be complete.
The Bench though observed that payment of compensation to the Development Authority in itself was not sufficient to discharge the liabilities of the Corporation. In any case, it observed that the Court was not seized with the question of who among the two – Development Authority or Corporation – shall be responsible for payment and observed that these issues will be taken up individually.
Reiteration of SG’s arguments
Thereafter, the counsel on behalf of the State of Tamil Nadu, reiterated SG’s argument from yesterday that the proviso is applicable only to sub-section (2). The same justification, provided by the SG, as regards the placement of punctuations was cited by the Tamil Nadu counsel too. The counsel also added that such an interpretation is in line with the intention of the legislature, which wanted to save the proceedings initiated under the 1894 Land Acquisition Act as much as it could.
The State of Delhi too supported the position taken by the SG as regards interpreting the word ‘or’ appearing in S.24(2) as ‘and’. Supporting the SG’s arguments, the counsel for the State of Delhi stated that the proceedings shall lapse only if neither the physical possession is taken nor the payment of compensation is made. Furthermore, it was submitted that the inclusion of the proviso was meant to ensure there would be no lapsing of the proceedings, but only a mere eligibility for enhanced compensation.
Counsel for one of the intervenors then submitted that Section 24(2) has to be construed in a narrow manner. Thus, proceedings should only be held to lapse if the government fails to take any action in furtherance of the acquisition. Moreover, Section 24 shall come into play only if the physical possession of the land is not taken.
Another intervenor pointed out that a 35-year old acquisition proceeding in relation to their property was now under challenge before the High Court. The Bench refused to hear further on this and observed that it will be looking into the issue of delay and latches in the current batch of appeals.
With this, the Bench rose for the day. Tomorrow, Sr. Adv. Shyam Divan, counsel for the respondents in the lead matter – Indore Development Authority v. Manohar Lal – is expected to make his submissions.
(Court reporting by Sanya Talwar)