‘Owner can’t reclaim land even if govt fails to acquire it in 5 yrs’
HC: Provision On Lapse Does Not Apply For MRTP
Mumbai: Even if the state fails to take possession of private land reserved for public purposes within five years, the owner won’t be able to claim back the property, said the HC.
Land owners had moved the HC, pleading that a provision to acquire land should lapse if the government fails to do so in five years. The Land Acquisition Act 2013 allows the acquisition process to lapse if government fails to take possession or pay compensation within five years. Under the MRTP Act, the state has 10 years to acquire the land once it is reserved in the final plan, for a specific public purpose, for instance, a garden, school or a bus depot, failing which the acquisition will lapse. The Act also says that the process has to be completed within ten years, failing which it will lapse.
Under the Land Acquisition Act, the time limit is five years for government to complete the land acquisition. Land owners said this provision should be extended even for MRTP Act acquisitions. Both laws govern land acquisition for public purposes.
Holding that the Maharashtra Region and Town Planning Act (MRTP) is a “complete code
The question was if a Land Acquisition Act, 2013 provision on ‘lapsing’ can be applied to MRTP Act
The Land Acquisition Act, 2013 envisages two situations: Where acquisition proceedings have been initiated under the old Act but not finalised and where orders have been passed but neither the acquisition has happened nor compensation been paid. In the first case, proceedings could continue but compensation will be determined as per the new Act. In the second case, proceedings could continue under the old Act but if either payment or possession has not taken in 5 yrs prior to the new Act, then proceedings will lapse
The MRTP Act, 1966 is for effective town planning in itself’’, provisions of a 2013 Land Acquisition Act cannot be made applicable to it, the HC said. But the question that fell before a three-judge full bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justices Nitin Jamdar and Girish Kulkarni was whether the 2013 Act provision on lapsing should be extended to MRTP Act. The order implies that the state need not restart land acquisition process in case of a delay, which will be a costly affair as market rate would have to be paid to the land owners.
The HC had appointed two senior counsel Aspi Chinoy and Janak Dwarkadas to assist with the legal points. They cited an SC judgment to say that the lapsing provision can’t apply under MRTP since the law is for public planning of land use and if such reserved land is allowed to lapse earlier than permitted, the planning would be defeated. The 2011 SC ruling after a detailed analysis of both laws concluded that MRTP Act and its provisions was a self-contained code.
“While carrying out planned development, a balance has to be achieved between individual rights and larger good of the society,” said the HC.
Advocate general Ashutosh Kumbhakoni said the 2013 Act also requires a social impact assessment before acquisition.