The Executive Engineer Gosikhurd … vs Mahesh on 10 November, 2021


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Supreme Court of India

The Executive Engineer Gosikhurd … vs Mahesh on 10 November, 2021

Author: Sanjiv Khanna

Bench: M.R. Shah, Sanjiv Khanna

                                                                                           REPORTABLE

                                               IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                                                CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                                           CIVIL APPEAL NOS.                        OF 2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NOS. 13093-13094 OF 2018)

                        THE EXECUTIVE ENGINEER, GOSIKHURD
                        PROJECT AMBADI, BHANDARA,
                        MAHARASHTRA VIDARBHA IRRIGATION
                        DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION                                   .....   APPELLANT(S)

                                                      VERSUS

                        MAHESH AND OTHERS                                         ..... RESPONDENT(S)

                                                                   WITH

                                           CIVIL APPEAL NOS.                        OF 2021
                         (ARISING OUT OF SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (CIVIL) NOS. 13089-13090 OF 2018)



                                                        JUDGMENT

SANJIV KHANNA, J.

Leave granted.

2. The legal issue that arises in these appeals relates to interpretation

of Section 24(1)(a) of The Right to Fair Compensation and

Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement

Act, 2013 (‘2013 Act’, for short), and in particular the question:
Signature Not Verified
Whether the two-year period specified under Section 11A
Digitally signed by R
Natarajan

of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (‘1894 Act’, for short)
Date: 2021.11.10
16:52:39 IST
Reason:

will apply even after the repeal of the 1894 Act, or the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 1 of 41
twelve-month period specified in Section 25 of the 2013
Act will apply for the awards made under clause (a) of
Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act?

Subsequent to the decision on the aforesaid question of law,

we shall consider the second aspect – whether the award dated

30th October 2014 is within the permissible time-limit or whether the

acquisition proceedings have lapsed? To answer this question, we

shall also examine whether the award claimed to have been passed

on 30th October 2014 is backdated and whether the date has been

changed by manipulating the award? For convenience and clarity,

we would deal with the two issues separately.

3. In order to answer the legal question, some elemental facts are

required to be noted. The State of Maharashtra, on 16th June 2011,

had issued a notification under Section 41 of the 1894 Act for the

14.Publication of preliminary notification and power of officers thereupon – (1) Whenever it appears to
the appropriate Government the land in any locality is needed or is likely to be needed for any public
purpose or for a company, a notification to that effect shall be published in the Official Gazette and in
two daily newspapers circulating in that locality of which at least one shall be in the regional language,
and the Collector shall cause public notice of the substance of such notification to be given at
convenient places in the said locality (the last of the dates of such publication and the giving of such
public notice, being hereinafter referred to as the date of the publication of the notification).
(2) Thereupon it shall be lawful for any officer, either generally or specially authorized by such
Government in this behalf, and for his servants and workman, –

to enter upon and survey and take levels of any land in such locality;
to dig or bore into the sub-soil;

to do all other acts necessary to ascertain whether the land is adapted for such purpose;
to set out the boundaries of the land proposed to be taken and the intended line of the work (if
any) proposed to be made thereon;

to mark such levels, boundaries and line by placing marks and cutting trenches;
and, where otherwise the survey cannot be completed and the levels taken and the boundaries
and line marked, to cut down and clear away any part of any standing crop, fence or jungle;

Provided that no person shall enter into any building or upon any enclosed court or garden attached to
a dwelling house (unless with the consent of the occupier thereof) without previously giving such

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 2 of 41
acquisition of 203.86 hectares of land in village Adyal, District

Bhandara, Maharashtra for the Gosikhurd Project. This was

followed by publication of declarations under Section 62 of the 1894

Act, the last of which is dated 8th August 2012. Vide Gazette

Notification No. S.O. 3729(E) dated 19th December 2013, the 2013

Act came into force on 1st January 2014, and in terms of Section

114 of the 2013 Act, the 1894 Act was repealed. On 30th October

occupier at least seven days’ notice in writing of his intention to do so.

26. Declaration that land is required for a public purpose. – (1) Subject to the provisions of Part VII of
this Act, when the appropriate Government is satisfied, after considering the report, if any, made under
section 5A, sub-section (2), that any particular land is needed for a public purpose, or for a Company,
a declaration shall be made to that effect under the signature of a Secretary to such Government or of
some officer duly authorized to certify its orders, and different declarations may be made from time to
time in respect of different parcels of any land covered by the same notification under section 4, sub-
section (1) irrespective of whether one report or different reports has or have been made (wherever
required) under section 5A, sub-section (2):

Provided that no declaration in respect of any particular land covered by a notification under
section 4, sub-section (1), –

(i) published after the commencement of the Land Acquisition (Amendment and Validation)
Ordinance, 1967 (1 of 1967), but before the commencement of the Land Acquisition
(Amendment) Act, 1984 shall be made after the expiry of three years from the date of the
publication of the notification; or

(ii) Published after the commencement of the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1984, shall
be made after the expiry of one year from the date of the publication of the notification:

Provided further that no such declaration shall be made unless the compensation to be
awarded for such property is to be paid by a Company, or wholly or partly out of public revenues or
some fund controlled or managed by a local authority.

Explanation 1 – In computing any of the periods referred to in the first proviso, the period during
which any action or proceeding to be taken in pursuance of the notification issued under section 4,
sub-section (1), is stayed by an order of a Court shall be excluded.

Explanation 2 – Where the compensation to be awarded for such property is to be paid out of
the funds of a corporation owned or controlled by the State, such compensation shall be deemed to
be compensation paid out of public revenues.

(2) Every declaration shall be published in the Official Gazette, and in two daily newspapers circulating
in the locality in which the land is situate of which at least one shall be in the regional language, and
the Collector shall cause public notice of the substance of such declaration to be given at convenient
places in the said locality (the last of the date of such publication and the giving of such public notice,
being hereinafter referred to as the date of publication of the declaration), and such declaration shall
state the district or other territorial division in which the land is situate, the purpose for which it is
needed, its approximate area, and, where a plan shall have been made of the land, the place where
such plan may be inspected.

(3) The said declaration shall be conclusive evidence that the land is needed for a public purpose or
for a Company, as the case may be; and, after making such declaration, the appropriate Government
may acquire the land in manner hereinafter appearing.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 3 of 41
2014, the Special Land Acquisition Officer purportedly made an

award in terms of clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act.

4. On 18th December 2015 and 25th January 2016, two writ petitions

were filed by some of the landowners for quashing and setting aside

of the award dated 30th October 2014, which have been allowed by

the judgment under challenge passed by the Nagpur Bench of the

High Court of Judicature at Bombay on 27th July 2017, inter alia,

ruling that in terms of Section 11A of the 1894 Act, the award ought

to have been passed within two years from the date of the

declaration under Section 6, that is, before 8th August 2014. The

acquisition proceedings having lapsed, the award was considered

to be of no consequence and has been set aside. The High Court

also agreed with the landowners that the award purportedly made

on 30th October 2014 was backdated. Discerning negligence on the

part of the officers, which necessitates fresh acquisition

proceedings thereby causing great financial burden to the

acquisition authority, directions have been issued to the State of

Maharashtra to conduct an inquiry against the Collector, Bhandara

and the Land Acquisition Officer, Bhandara.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 4 of 41
Consideration and decision on interpretation of Section 24(1)(a) of
the 2013 Act

5. Section 11A of the 1894 Act reads:

“11A. Period within which an award shall be made

(1) The Collector shall make an award under section
11
within a period of two years from the date of the
publication of the declaration and if no award is made
within that period, the entire proceedings for the
acquisition of the land shall lapse:

Provided that in a case where the said declaration
has been published before the commencement of the
Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act, 1984, the award
shall be made within a period of two years from such
commencement.

Explanation – In computing the period of two years
referred to in this section, the period during which any
action or proceeding to be taken in pursuance of the
said declaration is stayed by an order of a Court shall
be excluded.”

Simply put, Section 11A requires that an award under Section

11 must be passed within a period of two years from the date of

publication of the declaration and if no award is so made, the

proceedings for acquisition of land shall lapse. As per the

explanation, the period during which any action or proceedings to

be taken pursuant to the declaration is stayed by an order of a court

is to be excluded while calculating the period of two years.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 5 of 41

6. Sections 24, 25 and 114 of the 2013 Act read thus:

“24. Land acquisition process under Act No. 1 of
1894 shall be deemed to have lapsed in certain
cases.–

(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, in
any case of land acquisition proceedings initiated under
the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894), –

(a) where no award under section 11 of the said
Land Acquisition Act has been made, then, all
provisions of this Act relating to the
determination of compensation shall apply; or

(b) where an award under said section 11 has
been made, then such proceedings shall
continue under the provisions of the said Land
Acquisition Act
, as if the said Act has not been
repealed.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section
(1), in case of land acquisition proceedings initiated
under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (1 of 1894), where
an award under the said section 11 has been made five
years or more prior to the commencement of this Act
but the physical possession of the land has not been
taken or the compensation has not been paid the said
proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed and the
appropriate Government, if it so chooses, shall initiate
the proceedings of such land acquisition afresh in
accordance with the provisions of this Act:

Provided that where an award has been made and
compensation in respect of a majority of land holdings
has not been deposited in the account of the
beneficiaries, then, all beneficiaries specified in the
notification for acquisition under section 4 of the said
Land Acquisition Act, shall be entitled to compensation
in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

25. Period within which an award shall be made.–
The Collector shall make an award within a period of
twelve months from the date of publication of the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 6 of 41
declaration under section 19 and if no award is made
within that period, the entire proceedings for the
acquisition of the land shall lapse:

Provided that the appropriate Government shall
have the power to extend the period of twelve months if
in its opinion, circumstances exist justifying the same:

Provided further that any such decision to extend
the period shall be recorded in writing and the same
shall be notified and be uploaded on the website of the
authority concerned.

xx xx xx

114. Repeal and saving. – (1) The Land Acquisition
Act
, 1894 (1 of 1894) is hereby repealed.

(2) Save as otherwise provided in this Act the repeal
under sub-section (1) shall not be held to prejudice or
affect the general application of section 6 of the General
Clauses Act, 1897 (10 of 1897) with regard to the effect
of repeals.”

7. Before we interpret the above provisions, it would be appropriate to

refer to Section 6 of the General Clauses Act, 1897 which deals

with the effect of repeal of any statute or regulation and reads:

“6. Effect of repeal ––

Where this Act, or any Central Act or Regulation made
after the commencement of this Act, repeals any
enactment hitherto made or hereafter to be made, then,
unless a different intention appears, the repeal shall
not–

(a) revive anything not in force or existing at the time at
which the repeal takes effect; or

(b) affect the previous operation of any enactment so
repealed or anything duly done or suffered
thereunder; or

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 7 of 41

(c) affect any right, privilege, obligation or liability
acquired, accrued or incurred under any enactment
so repealed; or

(d) affect any penalty, forfeiture or punishment incurred
in respect of any offence committed against any
enactment so repealed; or

(e) affect any investigation, legal proceeding or remedy
in respect of any such right, privilege, obligation,
liability, penalty, forfeiture or punishment as
aforesaid;

and any such investigation, legal proceeding or remedy
may be instituted, continued or enforced, and any such
penalty, forfeiture or punishment may be imposed as if
the repealing Act or Regulation had not been passed.”

Section 6 of the General Clauses Act interdicts the common

law principle that an enactment after repeal is ineffective as if it had

never existed, except as to matters past and closed. Section 6 is a

general transitory provision that resurrects operation of the

repealed law in terms of comprehensive and broadly worded

clauses (a) to (e). Clauses (b), (c) and (e) of Section 6, in particular,

state that the repeal does not affect anything duly done or suffered

under the repealed enactment; any right, privilege, obligation or

liability acquired or accrued under any repealed enactment; or any

investigation, legal proceedings or remedy in respect of any such

right, privilege, obligation, liability, penalty, etc. Legal proceedings,

investigation or remedy may be instituted, continued or enforced,

and any penalty, punishment or forfeiture may be enforced as if the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 8 of 41
repealed Act or regulation were still in existence notwithstanding its

repeal. However, the savings of Section 6 do not apply to some

extent or in entirety when the legislative intent is different. The

contrary intent can be expressed or gathered by necessary

implication. Further, the ambit of repeal cannot be wider than the

boundary envisaged by the repealing enactment. Therefore, a

comprehensive repeal may be limited if the repealing enactment

directly or by necessary implication clamours that it will not apply to

certain matters.

8. Section 114 of the 2013 Act repeals the 1894 Act, which ceases to

be effective and applicable from the date of enforcement of the

2013 Act. In terms of sub-section (2) to Section 114, the repeal shall

not act so as to prejudice or affect application of Section 6 of the

General Clauses Act. However, the application of Section 6 of the

General Clauses Act is subject to “save as otherwise provided” by

the 2013 Act. In other words, when it is commanded or imperative

by the provisions of the 2013 Act, Section 6 of the General Clauses

Act is not to be given legal effect.

9. Sub-section (1) to Section 24 of the 2013 Act is a non-obstante

clause. It confers the provision with an overriding status over other

provisions. Accordingly, in terms of Sections 24(1) of the 2013 Act,

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 9 of 41
Section 114 of the 2013 Act as well as Section 6 of the General

Clauses Act will not apply to the extent hindered by Section 24(1)

of the 2013 Act. The reason is that Section 114 of the 2013 Act,

while accepting the applicability of Section 6 of the General Clauses

Act, makes its application subject to “save as otherwise provided”

in the 2013 Act. Further, Section 6 of the General Clauses Act itself

states that the general savings will not apply when the legislative

intent is contrary.

10. Section 24(1) deals with two specific situations where the land

acquisition proceedings were initiated before the repeal of the 1894

Act, namely: (i) where an award has been made, and (ii) where an

award has not been made. As per clause (b) to Section 24(1) where

an award under Section 11 of the 1894 Act has been made, the

proceedings would continue under the repealed 1894 Act,

notwithstanding its repeal. In such cases, the 2013 Act will not

apply. Clause (b) to Section 24(1) is not applicable in the case at

hand as it is admitted that no award was made on or before 31st

December 2013.3

3In the present case, we are not required to examine Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act, which provision
when applicable prevails over sub-section (1) to Section 24 of the 2013 Act and has been interpreted
in Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal and others (lapse – 5 Judges).

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 10 of 41

11. In the present case, clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act

would apply as the land acquisition proceedings initiated under the

1894 Act had not culminated into an award till the repeal of the 1894

Act. Section 24(1)(a) partly nullifies the legal effect of savings under

Section 6 of the General Clauses Act as it hybridizes application of

the 1894 Act and the 2013 Act. While preserving validity of the

acquisition proceedings by issue of declarations under the 1894

Act, it states that all the provisions for determination of

compensation under the 2013 Act shall apply. The section

consciously saves the legal effect of the notifications issued under

Section 4 and/or Section 6 of the 1894 Act and obviates the

necessity to issue a fresh notification under the 2013 Act. This

‘perseveration of the determination date’ for the computation of

compensation for the awards made under Section 24(1)(a) of the

2013 Act is a thought through legislative invocation that curtails time

delays and cost escalation of infrastructure projects, as well as

checks the post-acquisition notification malpractices, and at the

same time ensures that the landowners are entitled to the benefit

of the enhanced compensation as per the 2013 Act.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 11 of 41

12. In Indore Development Authority v. Manoharlal and Others4

(Lapse – 5 Judges), a Constitution Bench held that where

proceedings for acquisition had been initiated under the 1894 Act

but no award under Section 11 of the 1894 Act had been made, the

provisions of the 2013 Act would apply limited to determination of

compensation. Where, however, an award had been made under

the 1894 Act, clause (b) to Section 24(1) protects the vested rights

of the parties. We need not, for the purpose of the present case,

elucidate the ratio of the aforementioned judgment on interpretation

of Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act, but it is apposite to notice that the

Constitution Bench has emphasised that the 2013 Act provides for

higher compensation along with provisions for rehabilitation, and

that this intended benefit, wherever applicable, should not be taken

away. At the same time, on the aspect of legal interpretation, it is

observed that full effect has to be given to the provisions contained

in Section 24 as it is not for the court to legislate. The courts can

and do, in appropriate cases, clear ambiguity in legislations.

13. Dealing with the interplay of vested rights and retrospective

application of statutes, Indore Development Authority (supra)

refers to several decisions to draw a distinction between ‘rights’ and

4 (2020) 8 SCC 129

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 12 of 41
‘procedure’, to observe that the question of extent of retrospectivity

would also depend upon the degree of unfairness it causes to the

parties. Thus, if the limitation period is shortened but the claimant

has time to sue before the expiry of the shortened period, then

notwithstanding that he is likely to be statutorily barred if he does

not sue within the shortened period, retrospectivity may be given

effect to. We add that when the law extends the limitation period,

benefit of extended period applies to proceedings to be initiated that

are not time barred. Per contra, if the limitation period is extended

after the shorter limitation period has already expired, which could

have been an absolute defence for the party sued, then it may not

be fair to deprive the party sued of the accrued right of claiming

such defence. Further, absence of express limiting words is not to

be used as a basis for implying retrospective operation as this

would be reverse of the true presumption. However, presumption

in favour of retrospectivity may be necessary when distinct

implications typically arise in the context of the statute which

repeals a previous statute, and would leave a ‘lacuna’ if the new

statute were not construed as having retrospective effect. A statute

which is prospective in its direct operation cannot be called as

retrospective because a part of the requisites for its action is drawn

from time antecedent to its passing. Another cardinal principle of

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 13 of 41
interpretation is that a construction which results in unreasonably

harsh and absurd results must be avoided. These dictums being

relevant would help us resolve and answer the question in issue.

14. In paragraph 195 in Indore Development Authority (supra), the

Constitution Bench held that the 2013 Act operates prospectively.

Further, Section 114 of the 2013 Act effects a repeal but with certain

savings, in accordance with Section 24. Thus, the acquisition

proceedings are preserved under the 1894 Act till the stage of

making of the award. Where an award is not made, the provisions

relating to determination of compensation under the 2013 Act would

apply; where the award is made, proceedings would continue under

the provisions of the 1894 Act as if the said Act has not been

repealed. Our interpretation of Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act

respectfully follows this precedent.

15. Clearly, Section 11A of the 1894 Act and Section 25 of the 2013

Act prescribe two different periods of limitation with adverse

consequences, as on failure to make the award the acquisition

proceedings lapse. The choice is between Section 11A of the 1894

Act and Section 25 of the 2013 Act.5 Absence of precise words or

5Inparagraph 21 below we have rejected the State’s alternative argument that the legislator has not
prescribed any period for making of an award under Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 14 of 41
express declaration would not inhibit us from interpreting and

exercising the right choice, keeping in view the language as also

the object and purpose of clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013

Act. In other words, we have to give effect and meaning to the

underlying intention of the Parliament in the words “all the

provisions relating to determination of compensation” under the

2013 Act.

16. We begin by examining the phrasing of clause (a) to Section 24(1)

of the 2013 Act. We would prefer to read the words “all the

provisions relating to determination of compensation” in Section

24(1)(a) as including the period of limitation specified in Section 25

of the 2013 Act. To elaborate, the word ‘all’ and the expression

“relating to” used in Section 25 are required to be given a wide

meaning to ensnare the legislative intent. The expressions “relating

to” or “in relation to” are words of comprehensiveness which may

have a direct as well as indirect significance depending on the

context.6 Similarly, interpreting Section 129C of the Customs Act,

1962, this Court while giving the phrase ‘in relation to’ a narrower

meaning of direct and proximate relationship to the rate of duty and

to the value of goods for purpose of assessment, did observe that

6TheState Wakf Board, Madras represented by its Secretary v. Abdul Azeez Sahib & Ors., AIR 1968
Madras 79

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 15 of 41
ordinarily the phrase ‘in relation to’ is of a wider import.7 Several

cases assigning a wider import to the expression ‘relating to’, in

view of the contextual background, find reference in Gujarat Urja

Vikas Nigam Limited v. Amit Gupta and Others.8In Renusagar

Power Co. Ltd. v. General Electric Company and Another9, this

Court held that the term ‘in relation to’, when used in the context of

arbitration clause, is of widest amplitude and content. In

Mansukhlal Dhanraj Jain and Others v. Eknath Vithal Ogale,10

the expression ‘relating to’ in the context of Small Causes Court

Act, 1887 has been held to be comprehensive in nature that would

take in its sweep all types of suits and proceedings which are

concerned with recovery of possession. Broad and wider

interpretation was again preferred in M/s. Doypack Systems Pvt.

Ltd. v. Union of India and Others,11 observing that the expression

“in relation to” is a very broad expression which presupposes

another subject matter. In M/s. Doypack Systems Pvt. Ltd.

(supra), in the context of Section 3 of Swadeshi Cotton Mills

Company Limited (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act,

1986, the expression “relating to” was held to mean ‘bring into

7Navin Chemicals Mfg. and Trading Co. Ltd. v. Collector of Customs, (1993) 4 SCC 320
82021 SCC Online SC 194
9 (1984) 4 SCC 679
10 (1995) 2 SCC 665
11 (1988) 2 SCC 299

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 16 of 41
association or connection with’.12 The words are comprehensive

and might have both direct as well as indirect significance. The

decision in Gujarat Urja Vikas Nigam Limited (supra) refers to

Corpus Juris Secundum, wherein the expression “relating to” has

been held to be equivalent to or synonymous with as to “concerning

with” and “pertaining to”. It has been observed that the expression

“pertaining to” is an expression of expansion and not of contraction.

The expression “relating to” when used in legislation normally refers

to “stand in some relation, to have bearing or concern, to pertain,

to refer, to bring into association with or connection with”.13

Therefore, the expression ‘relating to’ when used in legislation has

to be construed to give effect to the legislative intent when required

and necessary by giving an expansive and wider meaning. Given

this trend in interpretation, the words “all the provisions of this Act

relating to the determination of compensation” must not be imputed

a restricted understanding of the word ‘relating’ only to the

substantial provisions on calculation of compensation, that is,

Sections 26 to 30 of the 2013 Act. Rather, the expression should

be given an expansive meaning so as to include the provision on

12M/S Doypack Systems Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India and others, (1988) 2 SCC 299
13Seejudgment of Mitter, J. (paragraph 308) in H.H. Maharajadhiraja Madhav Rao Jivaji Rao Scindia
Bahadur of Gwalior etc. v. Union of India & Anr., (1971) 1 SCC 85.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 17 of 41
limitation period for calculation of compensation, that is, Section 25

of the 2013 Act.

17. Law of limitation is generally regarded as procedural as its object is

not to create any right but prescribe periods within which legal

proceedings should be instituted for enforcement of rights or

adjudication orders should be passed. Statutes of limitation,

therefore, have retrospective effect insofar as they apply to all legal

proceedings brought after they come into force. However, the laws

relating to limitation have been held to be prospective in the sense

that they do not have the effect of reviving the right of action which

is already barred on the date of their coming into operation, nor do

they have the effect of extinguishing a right of action subsisting on

the date. In this sense, the limitation provisions can be procedural

in the context of one set of facts and substantive in the context of a

different set of facts. Therefore, unless the language of the

provision dealing with period of limitation clearly manifests, in

express terms or by necessary implication, a contrary intention

divesting vested rights, such provision is to be construed as

prospective. In the context of clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013

Act, it is to be stated that the said clause would apply only if the

period for making of an award had not ended and time was

available as on 1st January 2014. Where and if the period for

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 18 of 41
making of the award had already lapsed before 1st January 2014,

clause (a) to Section 24(1) would not apply so as to deprive and

deny the vested rights which have already accrued in favour of the

landowners. The present case is not of divesting of vested rights of

the landowners on enactment of the 2013 Act.

18. Section 25 is a rule of procedure immediately following Section 24

and a part of fasciculus of “all the provisions”, from Sections 25 to

30, “relating to determination of compensation”. Hence, the

expression “all the provisions relating to the determination of

compensation” under the 2013 Act will encompass Section 25 of

the 2013 Act.

19. The determination of compensation is never simple. It is a complex

factual and legal exercise. As per sub-section (2) to Section 26 of

the 2013 Act, the market value calculated under sub-section (1) is

to be multiplied by the factor to be specified in the First Schedule.

Section 30(2) requires the Collector to issue individual awards

detailing the particulars of compensation payable and details of

payment as specified in the First Schedule. As per the First

Schedule, the factor/multiplier in case of rural areas can be

between one and two, based on the distance from the urban area,

and this factor/multiplier is to be notified by the “appropriate

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 19 of 41
government”. This aspect is of importance when we examine the

second issue and would be adverted to later. Thus, it clearly

delineates that until notification of the multiplier is issued by the

“appropriate government” for rural areas, compensation in terms of

sub-section (2) to Section 26 cannot be determined. When a

multiplier of more than 1 applies, the compensation payable under

Section 26 of the 2013 Act would be higher than the market value

of the land. Section 30(1) of the 2013 Act adumbrates that the

Collector having determined the total compensation shall, to arrive

at the final award, impose ‘solatium’ of an amount equivalent to

100% of the compensation amount. As per Section 30(3), the

landowners in addition to the market value of the land are entitled

to an amount calculated at the rate of twelve percent per annum

commencing from the date of publication of “the notification of the

Social Impact Assessment study under sub-section (2) of Section

4, in respect of such land, till the date of the award of the Collector

or the date of taking possession of the land, whichever is earlier”.14

Per contra, the provisions for determination of compensation under

the 1894 Act are different. Under the 1894 Act, no multiplier/factor

is to be applied and solatium payable is 30 percent. Prescription of

14Forthe purposes of the present dispute, we are not interpreting provisions of Section 30(3) of the
2013 Act.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 20 of 41
the outer limit of twelve months in Section 25 is a calculated dictate,

necessary and appropriate given the time, task and effort involved

in making an award under the 2013 Act.

20. Given the object and purpose behind Sections 24, and 26 to 30 of

the 2013 Act, we notice that practical absurdities and anomalies

may arise if the two-year period for making of an award in terms of

Section 11A of the 1894 Act commencing from the date of issue of

the declaration is applied to the awards to be made under Section

24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act. This would mitigate against the underlying

legislative intent behind prescription of time for making of an award

in respect of saved acquisition proceedings initiated under the

repealed 1894 Act, which is two-fold: (i) to give sufficient time to the

authorities to determine compensation payable under the 2013 Act;

and (ii) to ensure early and expedited payment to the landowners

by reducing the period from two years under Section 11A of the

1894 Act to twelve months under Section 25 of the 2013 Act. In

case of declarations issued in January 2012, on application of

Section 11A of the 1894 Act, the time to determine compensation

under the 2013 Act would vary from a day to a month, and while in

cases where the declarations were issued within twelve months of

the repeal of the 1894 Act, the landowners would be at a

disadvantage as an award beyond the twelve-month period

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 21 of 41
specified in Section 25 of the 2013 Act would be valid. In the first

set of cases, given the onerous factual and legal exercise involved

in determination of compensation and the need to issue notification

under Section 26(2) of the 2013 Act, publication of the awards

would be impractical. Hasty and incorrect awards would be

deleterious for the landowners. If the awards are not pronounced,

the acquisition proceedings would lapse defeating the legislative

intent behind Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act to save such

proceedings. We would, therefore, exercise our choice to arrive at

a just, fair and harmonious construction consistent with the

legislative intent. A rational approach so as to further the object and

purpose of Sections 24 and 26 to 30 of the 2013 Act is required.

We are conscious that Section 25 refers to publication of a

notification under Section 19 as the starting point of limitation. In

the context of clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013 Act there

would be no notification under Section 19, but declaration under

Section 6 of the 1894 Act. When the declarations under Section 6

are valid as on 1st January 2014, it is necessary to give effect to the

legislative intention and reckon the starting point. In the context of

Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act, declarations under Section 6 of

the 1894 Act are no different and serve the same purpose as the

declarations under Section 19 of the 2013 Act. Consequently, we

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 22 of 41
hold that in cases covered by clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013

Act, the limitation period for passing/making of an award under

Section 25 of the 2013 Act would commence from 1st January 2014,

that is, the date when the 2013 Act came into force. Awards passed

under clause (a) to Section 24(1) would be valid if made within

twelve months from 1st January 2014. This dictum is subject to the

caveat stated in paragraph 16 (supra) that a declaration which has

lapsed in terms of Section 11A of the 1894 Act before or on 31st

December 2013 would not get revived.

21. The contention of the land owners, relying upon Rule 19 of the Right

to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition,

Rehabilitation and Settlement (Maharashtra) Rules, 2014,15 for

giving a restrictive meaning and excluding Section 25 of 2013 Act

is misplaced. This Rule states that the formula provided in Sections

26 to 30 of the 2013 Act would apply where a notification under

Section 4(i) of the 1894 Act was issued before 31st December 2013,

and an award has not been made before the 31st December 2013.

The Rule refers to the formula for computation of compensation to

1519. Land Acquisition Proceedings Initiated Under Land Acquisition Act, 1894.– (1) Any
proceeding where a notification under sub-section (1) of section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (I
of 1894) has been issued before the 31st December 2013 and an award under section 11 of the said
Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (I of 1894) has not been made before the 31 st December 2013, then the
proceeding shall be continued as per the formula provided in sections 26 to 30 of the Right to Fair
Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (30
of 2013).”

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 23 of 41
be applied under Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act, but it does not

follow that Section 25 which prescribes the limitation for making of

an award will not apply. For the reasons stated above, we hold that

Section 25 of the 2013 Act applies to awards made under Section

24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act and the period of limitation of twelve

months would commence from 1st January 2014.

22. Alternative argument by the State that neither the period for making

of an award under Section 11A of the 1894 Act nor Section 25 of

the 2013 Act would apply, would result in a situation which we

believe the legislature had never envisaged. The consequence

would be that there is no time period prescribed for making and

passing of an award under clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the 2013

Act. This would be unacceptable and again completely contrary to

the legislative intent in enacting Section 25 in the 2013 Act. Section

24 read and as interpreted in Indore Development Authority

(supra) would not support such construction. Sensible and

purposive construction to avoid absurdities and inconsistencies is,

therefore, justified when we interpret Section 25 of the 2013 Act.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 24 of 41
Whether the award has been passed within the period stipulated
under Section 25 of the 2013 Act or the acquisition proceedings
have lapsed?

23. As per the arguments put forth by the appellants, the award was

pronounced on 30th October 2014, which is within the period of

twelve months prescribed by Section 25 of the 2013 Act coming

into force on 1st January 2014. The landowners, however, dispute

the date of publication. The impugned judgment holds that the

award, though dated 30th October 2014, has been backdated.

However, before we examine this controversy, it would be

appropriate to first notice the effect of the stay order passed by the

Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No.

4274 of 2014. To understand the effect of the said stay order, we

must again advert to Section 26(2) of the 2013 Act. This Section

postulates that the market value calculated as per sub-section (1)

shall be multiplied by a factor specified in the First Schedule. The

First Schedule enumerates different components which constitute

the minimum compensation package to be given to those whose

land is acquired and to the tenants referred to in clause (c) of

Section 3. Columns 2 and 3 of the First Schedule mandate that the

market value in case of rural areas is to be multiplied/factored

between 1 and 2 based on the distance of the project from urban

area. The factor is to be notified by the “appropriate government”.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 25 of 41
As noticed above, when the factor/multiplier is more than 1, the

compensation payable would be proportionately higher than the

market value.

24. On 19th March 2014, the State of Maharashtra had published a

notification directing that the multiplier in all rural areas shall be a

factor of 1. This notification was challenged before the Aurangabad

Bench of the Bombay High Court in Writ Petition No. 4274 of 2014,

whereupon the High Court stayed the operation, execution and

implementation of the notification vide the interim order dated 26th

May 2014. Consequently, the Government of Maharashtra had

addressed its letter dated 7th July 2014 to the Divisional

Commissioners directing them not to declare awards till further

orders of the High Court in Writ Petition No. 4274 of 2014. On 13th

August 2014, the State of Maharashtra published another

notification whereby the multiplier factor made applicable to some

of the rural areas was 1.10. In response, an application was made

for the amendment of Writ Petition No. 4274 of 2014 to challenge

and seek stay of the notification dated 13th August 2014. The State

Government, in turn, had moved an application for modification/

vacation of the stay order. By order dated 23rd September 2014, the

High Court, though denying a stay on the notification dated 13th

August 2014, held that the awards passed after the issuance of the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 26 of 41
notification dated 13th August 2014 would be subject to the decision

in the writ petition.

25. The impugned judgment, however, holds that the period when the

stay order dated 26th May 2014 was effective is inconsequential and

irrelevant as the High Court had not stayed the acquisition

proceedings. It is difficult to accept the aforesaid reasoning for the

simple reason that it ignores the language of the interim order and

its true effect in redetermination of compensation. The interim order

passed by the High Court had inhibited further action on the part of

the authorities to proceed with the acquisition of land. Indore

Development Authority (supra) refers to a catena of authorities,

including Abhey Ram (D) by LRs. and Others v. Union of India

and Others16, to give fitting meaning to the words “stay of action or

proceedings” used in the proviso to Section 11A of the 1894 Act to

mean any type of order passed by a court, which in one way or the

other prohibits or prevents the authorities from passing an award.

This period of inhibition is excluded while computing the period for

passing of the award by an authority, under Section 11A of the 1894

Act. Further, the stay granted in the present case would be

applicable to others also who had not obtained stay in that behalf.

16(1997) 5 SCC 421

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 27 of 41

26. In Indore Development Authority (supra), with reference to

Section 24(2) of the 2013 Act, the Constitution Bench has noticed

that there is no similar provision for exclusion of time, though there

is express provision for exclusion of time under Sections 19 and 69

of the 2013 Act. Nevertheless, the Constitution Bench, while

discussing issue no.5 – ‘the effect of interim order of a court

granting stay or injunction by which the authorities are unable to

take possession or make payment and its exclusion’, has observed

that omission of such exclusion and specific stipulation in Sections

19 and 69 of the 2013 Act does not indicate any special legislative

intent. The provision for exclusion of time was read into Section

24(2) of the 2013 Act. For the aforesaid purpose, the relevant

portions of the judgment have been reproduced below:

“331. For all these reasons, it is held that the omission
to expressly enact a provision, that excludes the period
during which any interim order was operative,
preventing the State from taking possession of acquired
land, or from giving effect to the award, in a particular
case or cases, cannot result in the inclusion of such
period or periods for the purpose of reckoning the
period of 5 years. Also, merely because timelines are
indicated, with the consequence of lapsing, under
Sections 19 and 69 of the 2013 Act, per se does not
mean that omission to factor such time (of subsistence
of interim orders) has any special legislative intent. This
Court notices, in this context, that even under the new
Act (nor was it so under the 1894 Act) no provision has
been enacted, for lapse of the entire acquisition, for
non-payment of compensation within a specified time;

nor has any such provision been made regarding
possession. Furthermore, non-compliance with
payment and deposit provisions (under Section 77) only

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 28 of 41
results in higher interest pay-outs under Section 80.

The omission to provide for exclusion of time during
which interim orders subsisted, while determining
whether or not acquisitions lapsed, in the present case,
is a clear result of inadvertence or accident, having
regard to the subject-matter, refusal to apply the
principle underlying the maxim actus curiae neminem
gravabit would result in injustice.”

27. In the context of absence of any provision excluding the period of

operation of stay orders under Section 24(2), it was noted that the

statute cannot provide for all possible scenarios, and it is for the

courts to plug the gaps through the process of judicial interpretation

by ascertaining the legislative intent. The Court resorts to construe

the words of the provision in a reasonable way having regard to the

context. Accordingly, it was held that Section 24(2) ousts the period

spent during the interim stay, and no fault or inaction could be

attributed to the authorities when the payment of compensation or

taking possession of land was inhibited by operation of a stay order.

In arriving at this finding, this Court relied on several judgments and

treatises on statutory interpretation which elaborated on legal

maxims encapsulated below:

• “lex non cogit ad impossibilia” – the law does not expect the
performance of the impossible;

• “actus curiae neminem gravabit” – an act of the court shall
prejudice no man;

• “nemo tenetur ad impossibilia” – no one is bound to do an
impossibility; and

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 29 of 41
• “impotentia excusat legem” – where a person is disabled from
performing a duty created by law, without any default in him,
and has no remedy over, there the law will in general excuse
him.

28. It was further concluded, based on the maxim “commodum ex-

injuria sua nemo habere debet” (meaning: convenience cannot

accrue to a party from his own wrong), that the legislation did not

intend for relentless litigants to derive the benefit of enhanced

compensation under the 2013 Act, but rather to deliver advantage

to those who accepted the compensation and handed over

possession.

29. The aforesaid reasoning will be applicable to Section 25 of the 2013

Act as well. If interpreted otherwise, it would bring inconsistencies

and would cause injustice.

30. The foregoing discussion makes it abundantly clear that inasmuch

as the High Court had, on 26th May 2014, stayed the operation of

the notification dated 19th March 2014, and subsequently modified

the order on 23rd September 2014 permitting publication of the

awards, the intervening period of 129 days between 26th May 2014

until 23rd September 2014 and in any case of 79 days from 26th May

2014 till the new notification dated 13th August 2014 was issued

must be excluded. Ordinarily, an award made or passed before 31st

December 2014 would be valid. However, owing to the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 30 of 41
abovementioned intervening period of 79 days, it could be made up

to 20th March 2015. Be it noted that the specific case of the

landowners before the High Court was about lapsing of acquisition

proceedings owing to the mandate of Section 11A of the 1894 Act.

It was not even remotely suggested that the acquisition

proceedings had lapsed even in terms of the mandate of the new

legislation being 2013 Act, in particular Section 25 thereof. In other

words, the High Court was essentially called upon to answer the

assail in reference to the lapsing provision in the 1894 Act.

However, as aforesaid, that will have no bearing on the fact

situation of the present case, to which the regime predicated in

Section 25 of the 2013 Act ought to apply.

31. In light of the asseveration of the landowners, the High Court had

to consider the case made out by the landowners regarding subject

award being not made within the specified period under Section

11A of the 1894 Act, to save acquisition proceedings. It, therefore,

became necessary to examine the plea of the landowners that the

concerned officials backdated the award as 30th October 2014.

While considering that issue, the High Court in the impugned

judgment noted thus:

“It appears on a perusal of the documents annexed to
the writ petition and the rejoinder and the affidavit-in-

reply filed on behalf of the respondent nos. 1 to 4 that

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 31 of 41
though the award was passed much later, a show is

made by the respondent nos. 2 and 3 of having passed
the award on 30.10.2014. It is apparent from the
documents annexed to the petition and the rejoinder
which are not disputed by any of the respondents that
there is a mention of the issuance of the communication
by the Town Planning Department to the Special Land
Acquisition Officer on 11.11.2014 pertaining to the land
acquisition proceedings in the award. There is an
outward entry no. 32 in regard to the communication
dated 11.11.2014 in the outward register maintained by
the Town Planning Department. This entry shows that
indeed a communication was issued by the Town
Planning Department to the Special Land Acquisition
Officer on 11.11.2014. The respondent no.3 has the
audacity to state that they have not received any such
communication from the Town Planning Department
and the reference to the said communication in the
award is a clerical mistake. From outward entry no. 32,
we find that this communication was issued by the
Town Planning Department to the Special Land
Acquisition Officer and from the reference of this
communication in the award, it is apparent that the
special land acquisition officer had received the
communication dated 11.11.2014 before passing the
award and, hence a reference to that communication is
made in the award. This clearly shows that a show is
made by the respondent nos. 2 and 3 that the award
was passed on 30.10.2014 when the award was
passed much later. Though the enquiry in the matter
under Section 9 of the Act was conducted by the Deputy
Collector, the District Collector has signed the award. It
is clear from a perusal of the award, the documents
annexed to the petition and the rejoinder that the award
is falsely stated to have been passed on 30.10.2014
though it was passed much later.

Actually, it was not necessary for the respondent
nos. 2 and 3 to have made the show of passing the
award on 30.10.2014 as even if the award was passed
on 30.10.2014, the acquisition proceedings would have
lapsed in view of the provisions of Section 11-A of the
Act as the last Section 6 notification was admittedly
issued on 08.08.2012 and the award ought to have
been passed on or before 08.08.2014. We do not find
any merit in the submission made on behalf of the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 32 of 41
respondent nos. 1 to 3 that since there was a stay to the
proceedings by the Aurangabad Bench, the State
Government decided not to proceed with the land
acquisition proceedings. We are afraid that Writ Petition
No. 4274 of 2014 that was pending before the
Aurangabad Bench had no relation with the land
acquisition proceedings in this case. The Aurangabad
Bench had merely stayed the effect and operation of the
notification dated 19.03.2014 which pertains to the
multiplier. The Aurangabad Bench had not stayed the
proceedings in any land acquisition matters, much less
the land acquisition matter with which we are
concerned. If that is so, the award could not have been
passed on 30.10.2014, as the same would have lapsed
in view of the provisions of Section 11-A of the Act. It is
surprising that though the respondent nos. 1 to 3 have
relied on the communication of the State Government
dated 18.10.2014 that proceedings in all land
acquisition matters should not be continued in view of
the stay granted by the Aurangabad Bench in Writ
Petition No. 4274 of 2014, just within two weeks from
the said date, the award is purportedly passed on
30.10.2014.

We find that several irregularities and illegalities
have been committed while proceeding with the land
acquisition case initiated in pursuance of the Section 4
notification dated 16.06.2011. It appears that the
roznama is maintained only till 06.05.2014 as a copy of
the roznama, that was received by the petitioners on
13.03.2015 and that is placed on record, shows that the
roznama is maintained till 06.05.2014 only. Had the
roznama been maintained till the end, this Court could
have gauged as to when the award was actually
passed. It is surprising that the respondent no. 3 has
taken a stand that the roznama was never maintained
after 06.05.2014 as the proceedings were in the office
of the Commissioner. Even assuming that the
proceedings were in the office of the Commissioner, if
they were received before 30.10.2014, as the award
was purportedly passed on that date, the roznama
could have been maintained after the proceedings were
received from the office of the Commissioner however,
the roznama ends on 06.05.2014. We do not know
whether all the subsequent pages of the roznama have
been destroyed with a view to conceal as to what

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 33 of 41
happened in the land acquisition proceedings after
06.05.2014.”

32. The stand of the appellant(s) before the High Court and before us

is that the High Court had erroneously quashed the award on the

basis of prima facie findings that for the same communication of the

Town Planning Department, different dates are mentioned i.e., 26th

September 2014 and 11th November 2014. Whereas, the High

Court failed to consider the detailed affidavit filed by the State of

Maharashtra dated 5th July 2017 in W.P. No. 6884/2015, clarifying

that the date at page Nos. 32 and 37 of the award was wrongly

written as 11th November 2014 instead of 26th September 2014. The

High Court had also noted that the Commissioner gave approval to

the award on 20th November 2014, but it failed to consider the letter

dated 8th October 2014 of the Divisional Commissioner granting

approval to the draft award. It is urged that the High Court ought not

to have based its conclusion on a prima facie view especially in a

beneficial project of such vital public importance and burden the

appellant(s) with heavy financial loss for no fault whatsoever.

33. Before us again the landowners rely on the fact note in the award

dated 30th October 2014, referring to communication dated 11th

November 2014 from the Town Planning Department to the Special

Land Acquisition Officer, indicative of the fact that the award was

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 34 of 41
not published until that date. The landowners are also relying on

another communication dated 1st December 2014 issued by the

Special Land Acquisition Officer to the acquiring body stating that

the draft award had been submitted to the Commissioner and was

likely to be approved, calling upon the acquiring body to deposit the

compensation amount of Rs. 43.94 crores with their office.

Reference is also made to the fact that roznama was not

maintained by the Special Land Acquisition Officer after 6th May

2014. Further, the landowners had received certified true copy of

the award along with notice only on 6th May 2015.

34. Indeed, the High Court leaned in favour of the argument that the

stated award dated 30th October 2014 is backdated. That, however,

was in the context of applicability of Section 11A of the 1894 Act

and by not excluding the period during which the High Court stay

was operating. Indisputably, the High Court did not examine the

matter in the context of applicability of provisions of Section 25 of

the 2013 Act and further, as has been held by us hitherto, the period

during which the court’s stay to the notification dated 19th March

2014 was operative, needs to be excluded. In the case of latter, the

factum of manipulation and backdating of award becomes

insignificant unless the High Court was to go a step further and hold

that the award was not made even until 20th March 2015. In that

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 35 of 41
view of the matter, the conclusion reached by us in the present

appeals is inevitable and it must follow that the acquisition

proceedings in question had not lapsed in law.

35. Arguendo, if we were to entertain the afterthought plea raised by

the landowners before this Court for the first time that the

acquisition proceedings had lapsed even on account of the

mandate of Section 25 of the 2013 Act, the same needs to be

negatived for more than one reason. First, no factual foundation

has been set out by the landowners including to assert that the

stated award was not made even till 20th March 2015 nor was the

High Court called upon to examine that fact. Secondly, the

landowners “themselves” have stated (admitted) that the

Commissioner had given permission/approval to the draft award on

20th November 201417. Further, the High Court had not held that the

award was made or pronounced beyond the period specified under

Section 25 of the 2013 Act.

36. Ordinarily, in terms of Section 25, the award ought to have been

published up to 31st December 2014. However, as held by us, the

period of 79 days, when interim stay order was in operation, needs

17 As stated in paragraph B (ii) (Page 2) of the Written Arguments filed on behalf of
respondent/claimants, dated 02.09.2021 in reference to the findings of fact noted by the High Court in
the impugned judgment at the end of paragraph 7 thereof, relying on entry no. 1081 in the Inward
Register of the Land Acquisition Officer.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 36 of 41
to be excluded, in which case the award could be validly made until

20th March 2015. Given this date, in our opinion, even if it is

assumed that the award dated 30th October 2014 is backdated, it

was duly made soon after the approval was accorded by the

Commissioner on 20th November 2014, which was certainly without

any doubt, before 20th March 2015.

37. We are, therefore, of the considered opinion that the prima facie

opinion noted by the High Court on the factum of backdating of the

subject award would not make any difference to the outcome of the

relief pursued by the landowners by way of writ petition for a

declaration that the subject acquisition proceedings had lapsed.

Such declaration, in our opinion, cannot be issued in the fact

situation of the present case.

38. However, as the High Court has noticed certain discrepancies, as

pointed out to it by the landowners in the record and proceedings

before the Special Land Acquisition culminating in making of the

stated award, it would be appropriate to leave that aspect open for

being enquired into by the appropriate authority by conducting

enquiry to identify the relevant facts and circumstances and if it is

found to be a mischief, responsible person therefor may be

proceeded against as per law. Suffice it to state that neither the

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 37 of 41
observations made by the High Court nor this decision may affect

the final opinion or conclusion that may have to be reached in such

an enquiry. In other words, the enquiry be proceeded independently

on its own merits by giving opportunity to all concerned.

39. While dealing with this submission made by the landowners, we

must consider the submission that the notice under Section 12(2)

of the 1894 Act dated 6th May 2015 was served on the landowners

on various dates in May 2015. Section 37 of the 2013 Act is pari

materia with Section 12(2) of the 1894 Act and hence we are not

required to examine and consider in detail which of the two sections

would apply in a case covered by clause (a) to Section 24(1) of the

2013 Act. Sub-section (1) to Section 37 of the 2013 Act as well as

sub-section (1) to Section 12 of the 1894 Act state that the award

shall be filed in the Collector’s office and shall be final and

conclusive evidence as between the Collector and the persons

interested. It would not matter whether the person interested have

appeared before the Collector or not. Further, the award is final and

conclusive evidence as of the true area. Sub-section (3) to Section

37 of the 2013 Act requires the Collector to keep open to public and

display summary of the entire proceedings undertaken in the case

of acquisition of land, including the amount of compensation

awarded. These mandates must be complied with, but as they are

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 38 of 41
post the making of the award and, therefore, would not affect the

validity of the award when made within the statutory time. Issue of

notice by the Collector to the persons interested, which is to be

given to the persons not present personally or through the

representatives when the award is made, is to be issued

immediately, but the issue of notice is not a condition precedent for

making the award. Belated issue of notice would not, therefore,

legally affect the validity of the award, though there may be other

consequences. Equally, the limitation period to challenge and

question the compensation awarded would commence on the

service/intimation about making of the award on the landowners.18

Be that as it may, when satisfied that the award was made/

published within the prescribed period, even when there was

backdating of the award or delay in effecting service on the

landowners, the land acquisition proceedings need not be set

aside.

40. In view of the aforesaid discussion, we hold as under:

(i) Section 25 of the 2013 Act would apply to the awards made

and published under Section 24(1)(a) of the 2013 Act.

18See Raja Harish Chandra Raj Singh v. Deputy Land Acquisition Officer and Another, AIR 1961
SC 1500 – the date for counting limitation period means the date of communication or is known by a
party whether actually or constructively.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 39 of 41

(ii) The limitation period for passing/making of an award under

Section 24(1)(a) in terms of Section 25 of the 2013 Act would

commence from 1st January 2014, that is, the date when the

2013 Act came into force.

(iii) Period during which the Court order would inhibit action on

the part of the authorities to proceed with the making of the

award would be excluded while computing the period under

Section 25 of the 2013 Act.

(iv) Accordingly, period of 79 days from 26th May 2014 when the

High Court had stayed operation of the notification dated 19th

March 2014, till the new notification dated 13th August 2014

was issued has to be excluded.

(v) The award purportedly dated 30th October 2014, was in any

case duly made on or before the extended date of 20th March

2015. Hence, the concerned award is valid.

(vi) The State of Maharashtra may conduct an inquiry in

reference to the imputation regarding manipulation and

backdating of the subject award and take such remedial and

corrective action as may be necessary and to ensure such

situations do not arise in future.

41. The impugned judgment setting aside the award and holding that

the acquisition proceedings had lapsed is, accordingly, set aside. It

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 40 of 41
is held that the acquisition proceedings had not lapsed and the

award is legal and valid. The appeals are allowed in the aforesaid

terms without any order as to costs.

………………………………..J.

(A.M. KHANWILKAR)

………………………………..J.

(SANJIV KHANNA)
NEW DELHI;

NOVEMBER 10, 2021.

Civil Appeals a/o. of SLP (C) Nos. 13093-13094 of 2018 Page 41 of 41



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