‘Owner can’t re­claim land even if govt fails to ac­quire it in 5 yrs’

HC: Pro­vi­sion On Lapse Does Not Ap­ply For MRTP

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES CITY - Swati.Desh­pande @times­group.com

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.

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