CEC, AIKMS has criticized the decision of a 5 Judge Supreme Court bench ‘interpretation of Section 24 (2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013’ that from now on proceedings under Land Acquisition Act 1894 will not lapse if the compensation payable to the land owner is tendered by deposition it in the treasury even if the land owner refuses to accept it.
This decision of the Supreme Court has completely upturned the purpose of this part of the legislation which was to address the problem of arbitrariness and impunity with which peasant lands were forcefully acquired by the state without even as much as giving them an opportunity of hearing.
Under the LAA, 1894, the administration often imposed an urgency clause which waived off the right to preliminary objections by the owner, arbitrarily fixed the price and undermined the protests by peasants by depositing the amounts in the treasury and forcefully taking over the lands.
Further, often it has happened that the physical possession of the land was not taken and it remained occupied only on paper. Section 24 (2) of the new Act provided that if either the physical possession had not been done or payment had not been made and 5 years had passed, the acquisition would lapse. Now this would happen only if both had not been done and 5 years had lapsed.
Most such acquisitions have been done to favour big corporate, MNCs and real estate owners who have all misused vast tracts acquired rather than put them to proposed use. Most have also not been socially and economically useful to the people at large, especially those displaced.
A 3 judge bench of the Supreme Court, in the Pune Municipal Council and another vs Harakchand Solanki case had upheld Section 24, which states that if under the old Act possession of the land had not taken or payment not been made and 5 years had lapsed, acquisition proceedings will have to start anew.
So far on this basis 999 cases have been settled, 29 by the Supreme Court and 970 by the High Courts.
But in 2018 another 3 judge bench of the Supreme Court had delivered a 2:1 verdict against the unanimous above verdict and had invalidated Section24. As a result of this the matter was referred to this 5 judge bench which upheld the invalidation. This bench was supervised by Justice Arun Misra, who was one of the two who gave the 2:1 verdict.
This judgment is a brutal attack on the hard won legal rights against usurping of livelihood means of peasants of the country by MNCs and vested interests.
AIKMS opposes this judgment and appeals to all peasant organizations to raise their voice against this travesty of justice.
12 March 2020