of A.P. & Ors Vs. Kollutla Obi Reddy & Ors  Insc 406 (10 August 2005)
Pasayat & H.K. Sema
[With C.A. Nos.3076/2003, 3080/2003, 3088/2003, 3090/2003,
3093/2003, 3094/2003, 3096/2003, 3101/2003, 3280-3294/2003, 3323-3341/2003 and
3614/2005). ARIJIT PASAYAT, J.
these appeals challenge is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Andhra
Pradesh High Court setting aside the orders/awards made under the Land
Acquisition Act, 1894 (in short the 'Act') and directing Land Acquisition
Officer to pass fresh awards keeping in view the observations made in the
brief reference to the factual aspects would suffice.
1956 Nagarjuna Sagar Project (Acquisition of Lands) Act, 1956 (in short the 'Nagarjuna
Act') was enacted. Under the said Act Sections 11 and 23 of the Act were
amended. In 1979 writ petition was filed by one K. Rangaiah and others
questioning constitutional validity of Nagarjuna Act. A Division Bench of the
Andhra Pradesh High Court by its judgment dated 31.8.1979 in writ petition
No.2110/79 (K. Rangaiah v. State of A.P. (AIR 1980 A.P. 165) held that the
amendment to Section 23(1) (first clause) of the Act as made by the Nagarjuna
Act is violative of second proviso to Article 31-A of the Constitution of
India, 1950 (in short the 'Constitution') only so far it relates to acquisition
of land within the ceiling limit and is under personal cultivation. The
correctness of the judgment was questioned before this Court. Several other
writ petitions were also decided following K. Rangaiah's case (supra). All the
Civil Appeals against those judgments were taken up by a Constitution Bench in
Civil Appeal Nos.1220-42/82 and connected matters. This Court did not go into
the constitutional issues in view of the fact that respondents were small land
owners having less than one acre of land.
has been taken in the lands involved in those appeals on different dates
between 1980 and 1984. Being of the impression that the notifications had
lapsed, fresh notifications were issued under Sections 4 and 6 in 1991.
Acquisition Officer after due inquiry determined the market value in accordance
with the Nagarjuna Act and the awards were made in 1992. In February 1997 and
thereafter writ petitions were filed questioning validity of the actions taken
and prayed for direction to determine the market value on the date of
notification in 1991 under Section 4(1) of the Act without resorting to Nagarjuna
Division Bench held that subsequent notifications were really unnecessary in view
of the decision of this Court in Allahabad Development Authority and Ors. v. Nasiruzzaman
and Ors. (1996 (6) SCC 424). It was held that when possession of the land has
been taken pursuant to Section 17 of the Act, the provisions of Section 11-A do
not have any application. Therefore, subsequent notifications were held to be
of no consequence. After being held so, the High Court remitted the matter to
the Land Acquisition Officer by quashing the awards and directed passing of
counsel for the appellant-State and its functionaries submitted that the High
Court did not consider the specific plea raised regarding delayed presentation
of writ petition after long passage of time. Further the writ- petitioner had
not effectively availed the remedies available under the Act and could not have
indirectly asked for interference with the awards made long prior to the filing
of the writ petitions. It was further submitted that the undisputed position is
that references were pending in terms of Section 18 of the Act when writ
petitions were filed. That being so, the High Court should not have entertained
the writ petitions.
response, learned counsel for the respondents submitted that this Court's order
in the earlier matters dated 8th July, 1996
to which reference has been made earlier, did not in essence find fault with
the reasoning of the High Court in the earlier decision. Further, the Land
Acquisition Officer had passed the awards in some cases after the impugned
judgments of the High Court were passed and at this length of time this Court
should not interfere.
shall first deal with the plea relating to the maintainability of the writ
petition filed after long passage of time. In a catena of decisions this Court
has held that High Court should not entertain writ petitions when there is
delayed challenge to notification under Section 4(1) and declaration under
Section 6 of the Act.
and Ors. v. Lt. Governor of Delhi (1975
(4) SCC 285), State of T.N. and Ors. v. L. Krishnan and Ors.
(1) SCC 250) and Municipal Corporation of Greater Bombay v. Industrial Development
Investment Co. Pvt. Ltd. and Ors. (1996 (11) SCC 501).
High Court was moved in these matters by writ petitions long after Section 4(1)
Notification and Section 6 declarations were made. On that ground alone the
writ petitions should not have been entertained. Additionally, the respondents
clearly accepted that references in terms of Section 18 were pending. The High
Court has not even indicated any reason as to why the writ petitions were being
entertained when the references in terms of Section 18 were pending. On that
score also the High Court's judgment becomes unsustainable.
therefore, set aside the judgment of the High Court. The references which were
pending and have been closed in view of the impugned judgment of the High Court
shall be revived. In some of these cases also the fresh awards have been
passed. They are set aside and the original reference stands revived. Only
references which were pending on the date of the High Court judgment i.e.
14.3.1997 shall stand revived. Other claims and adjudications, if any, pursuant
to the High Court's impugned order in these cases shall have no effect.
appeals are accordingly allowed with no order as to costs.