SC reserves verdict on plea for interest on delayed compensation for land acquisition
New Delhi, June 21 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a plea by an erstwhile farmer from Uttar Pradesh’s Noida seeking interest on the compensation that was paid to him two years after the possession of his land was taken by the authority in February 2001.
A vacation bench of Justice Shiva Kirti Singh and Justice A.M.Khanwilkar reserved the verdict after petitioner Ranveer Singh said that his claim for interest on the delayed compensation was backed by the provision of the land acquisition law with Uttar Pradesh disputing his claim.
Uttar Pradesh however told the bench that if claim for interest was to be accepted, then it would open the Pandora’s box in the cases where compensation for acquiring land is paid through agreement between the authorities and the farmers whose lands were acquired.
Appearing for the petitioner, senior counsel Pallav Shishodia said that under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, the compensation includes market value of the land that is sought to be acquired, various kind of damages that its owner of land would suffer and 12 percent interest from the date of notification for acquiring the land and its actual possession.
Shishodia said that section 34 of the 1894 law (now replaced by Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013) says that when the amount of compensation is not paid on or before taking possession of the land, the compensation would be paid with nine per cent interest for the period from acquiring the land and the payment of compensation.
He said that had his client been paid compensation on February 15, 2001 when the possession of land was taken, then Section 34 would not have come into play. He said that what was being claimed was interest on compensation and two could not be merged.
However, the Uttar Pradesh government and NOIDA (New Okhla Industrial Development Authority) disputed this position contending that the compensation paid to the petitioner was under the agreement entered on February 27, 2003, and that was all encompassing and nothing more could be claimed beyond it.
Defending the High Court judgment of May 22, 2014 which had rejected the plea for interest on delayed compensation, counsel Ravinder Kumar, appearing for NOIDA, said that Ranveer Singh had accepted the compensation on February 27, 2003, without any protest and thus he has lost the right to seek interest on compensation that was given to him two years after acquiring his land.
At this, the bench asked the counsel to show what were the components of the compensation paid at Rs 329 per square yard.
As Kumar said that the high court, while rejecting the petitioner’s plea, had relied on the top court’s judgments, the bench asked him to show it the “best judgment” of the Supreme Court by which provision for interest under Section 34 was whipped out by the award of compensation under the agreement under Section 23 of the same Act providing for the factors to be considered for determining the compensation.