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Mohan and Anr Vs. State Of Maharashtra & Ors [2007] Insc 274 (13 March 2007)

S. B. Sinha & Markandey Katju

(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No.16991 of 2005) MARKANDEY KATJU, J.

Leave granted.

This appeal has been filed against the impugned judgment of the Bombay High Court (Aurangabad Bench) dated 12.4.2005 in Writ Petition No.455 of 2004.

Heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record.

The petitioner has prayed for quashing the award dated 4.2.2003 published by the Special Land Acquisition Officer in respect of Renapur Medium Project at village Talegaon (Ghat). The High Court had dismissed the writ petition and hence this appeal.

The short point before us is whether the award was illegal in view of Section 11A of the Land Acquisition Act (hereinafter referred to as "the Act").

The date of last publication of the notification under Section 4 of the Act was 18.2.1999 (in Gazette). The last publication of the declaration under Section 6 of the Act was 28.2.2000 whereas the award was published on 4.2.2003. According to the learned counsel for the appellant the award ought to have been published on or before 28.2.2000 which was the date of the last declaration under Section 6 of the Act. Learned counsel has invited our attention to Section 11A of the Act which states :

"11A. The collector shall make an award under Section 11 within a period of two years from 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."

In our opinion the submission of learned counsel for the appellant is clearly correct in view of the clear provision of Section 11A of the Act. In view of Section 11A an award has to be made within two years from the date of publication of the declaration under Section 6. Failure to adhere to this time frame is fatal to the award, as the provision is mandatory.

Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that after the declaration under Section 6 of the Act dated 28.2.2000 the acquiring body had intimated to the Land Acquisition Officer vide its communication dated 2.1.2001 proposing deletion of some of the area which was proposed to be acquired. The original declaration under Section 6 was regarding acquisition of 155.26 hectares, but thereafter 107.99 hectares was proposed to be deleted. Hence the final area which was proposed to be acquired was to the extent of 36.8 hectares.

Accordingly, a corrigendum to that effect was issued on 25.1.2003, and hence, it is submitted that the award dated 4.1.2003 was well within time. We do not agree.

In our opinion under Section 11A what has to be seen is the date of last publication of the declaration under Section 6, and not any subsequent corrigendum to the said declaration. The only circumstance under which the period between the declaration under Section 6 and the award can be extended is mentioned in the explanation to Section 11A which states : "In computing the period of two years referred to in Section 11A, 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 is excluded."

There is no mention in Section 11A that the period after the publication of the declaration under Section 6 and the publication of any corrigendum to the said declaration has also to be excluded. We will be adding words to the statute if we put such interpretation to Section 11A, and it is well settled the Court should not add or delete words in a statute.

In view of the above reasons this appeal is allowed. The impugned award is quashed. The impugned judgment is set aside.

There shall be no order as to costs.

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