The Supreme Court has recently given a comprehensive judgment on land acquisition by Commissioner or Collector in Civil Petitions No.1441 to 1449 of 2021. The Court has said that the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, provides that Collector can issue notification under section 4 whenever he deems fit. The Court further held that a notification also incudes addendum and corrigendum which are subsequently issued to amend, modify, supplement or vary the initial notification for acquisition of land. Thus, the Court interpreted the word ” Whenever” in section 4, holding that whenever does not mean beyond any time lime line. It is interpreted as “within reasonable time” and reasonable time cannot be determined by providing a time limit rather it should be left to the facts and circumstances of each case to decide what should be a reasonable time line. Hence, an addendum or corrigendum ought to be issued within a reasonable time not whenever a collector deems fit to issue it. Otherwise, there will be uncertainty which will offend Articles 23 and 24 of the Constitution.
Further the Court held that once a notification has been issued under sections 5 and 17 (4) of the Act, an addendum or corrigendum cannot be issued. However, fresh notification under section 4 of the Act can be issued to acquire land.
Similarly, if notification under section 4 of the Act can be followed by more notifications under name of addendum or corrigendum, in such a case, it is not the date of the 1st notification to be taken into account rather it is the date of the last addendum or corrigendum to the 1st notification which ought to be considered for acquisition of a land and compensation thereof under section 23 of the Act.
The Court further held that depriving a citizen of his/her land under the Act is not a general rule. It is an exception to Articles 23 and 24 of the Constitution which confers right to own property and business upon the citizens. The sate must compensate the occupiers of a land in reasonably, fairly and adequately which shall enable him/her to acquire an alternate land, rehabilitate or resettle.
At the end, the Court partly allowed the petition by holding that addendum and corrigendum was issued in accordance with law but partly dismissed the petition holding that award of compensation was issued on the basis of the date of the first notification while it ought to have been issued on the basis of the last addendum. The officials were directed to award compensation as per the date of the last notification as it is fair to award compensation considering the value of the land at the time when the last notification was issued not when the first notification was issued.c.p._1441_2021