D.D.A. Vs. Mahender
Singh & ANR.  INSC 569 (20 March 2009)
IN THE SUPREME COURT
OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1751 OF 2009 (Arising
out of SLP (C) No. 2113 of 2007) D.D.A. ......Appellant Versus Mahender Singh
and Anr. ...Respondents WITH CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1752 OF 2009 (Arising out of SLP
(C) No. 7484 of 2007) CIVIL APPEAL NO. 1753 OF 2009 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.
7485 of 2007)
Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT,
in these appeals is to the judgment of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court
allowing the Writ Petitions filed by respondents under Article 226 of the
Constitution of India, 1950 (in short the `Constitution').
Prayer in the writ
petitions was to direct the present appellant to make payment of statutory
interest under Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (in short the
`Act') for the acquisition of the land in terms of the award No.3/1997-98 dated
10.12.1997. The appellant resisted the claim on the ground that such a prayer
cannot be accepted in the writ petitions. The High Court, however, held that
the writ applications were to be allowed.
directed the respondents in the writ petitions including the present appellant
to pay the interest payable to the claimants in terms of Section 34 of the Act
and pay costs of Rs.10,000/- .
support of the appeals, learned counsel for the appellant submitted that the
direction given by the High Court is clearly contrary to a Full Bench judgment
of the Delhi High Court in Net Ram and Anr. v. Union of India and Ors. (86
(2000) DLT 606).
counsel for the respondents on the other hand supported the judgment and
submitted that in the background of public accountability which has been
highlighted by the High Court, the relief has been rightly granted.
Act is a complete Code and lays down detailed procedure for acquisition of
land, payment of compensation including solatium and additional market value.
It is to be noted that under Section 34 interest @ 9% from the date of taking
over the possession till payment for the first year @15% for subsequent years
is payable. Section 28 is the only other provision which deals with the award
of interest. The said provision empowers the Court to award interest on the
excess amount awarded over and above the amount awarded by the Collector.
28 and 34 read as follows:
may be directed to pay interest on excess compensation-If the sum which in the
opinion of the court, the Collector ought to have awarded as compensation is in
excess of the sum which the Collector did award as compensation, the award of
the Court may direct that the Collector shall pay interest on such excess at
the rate of (nine percentum) per annum from the date on which he took
possession of the land to the date of payment of such excess into Court.
34. Payment of
interest- When the amount of such compensation is not paid or deposited on or
before 3 taking possession of the land, the Collector shall pay the amount
awarded with interest thereon at the rate of nine per centum per annum from the
time of so taking possession until it shall have been so paid or deposited.
(Provided that if
such compensation or any part thereof is not paid or deposited within a period
of one year from the date on which possession is taken, interest at the rate of
15% per annum shall be payable from that date of expiry of the said period of
one year on the amount of compensation or part thereof which has not been paid
or deposited before the date of such expiry."
is no dispute that apart from Sections 28 and 34 which deal with payment of
interest to persons entitled to receive compensation, there is no other
provision envisaging payment of interest. Collector, Land Acquisition is liable
to pay interest on statutory rates to such persons only when possession has been
taken over before the payment of the entire compensation to them under Section
34. In Union of India v. Budh Singh (1995 (6) SCC 233,) this Court had the
occasion to deal with Sections 28 and 34 and it was observed that these were
the only provisions which deal with the payment of interest to land owners.
While considering the scope and ambit of the Sections, this Court observed:
"Thus, it could
be seen that the statute covers the entire field of operation of the liability
of the State to make payment of interest and entitlement thereof by the owner
when land has been taken over and possession in consequence thereof, the land
owner was deprived of the enjoyment thereof. Thus, it could be seen that the
Court has no power to impose any condition to pay interest in excess of the
rate and manner prescribed by the statute as well as for a period
view was expressed in State of Himachal Pradesh v. Dharam Das (1995 (5) SCC
683). It was held that when the statute provides for payment of interest to the
land owners, a Court has no power to award interest in a manner other than the
one prescribed by the statute. It was specifically observed that there is no
other provision empowering the Court to award interest on equitable ground as
equitable consideration has no role to play in determination of the
compensation and the manner of awarding interest as enjoined under the Act. The
same has to be administered in the manner laid in the Act and in no other way.
As a concomitance, the equity jurisdiction of the court is taken out and the
Act enjoins the Court to grant interest as per the statutory rates specified in
the Act. A plea was taken in a case before this Court in a matter relating to
Jammu and Kashmir Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act,
1968 which omitted provision for payment of solatium and interest, that in
spite of the absence of the provision for solatium and interest in the said
Act, the State was bound to pay solatium and interest to the land owners on
equitable grounds. This Court negatived the contention. It was observed that
there was no substance in the plea that by legislative omission to pay solatium
the State enriches itself unjustly at the expense of the private party. (See
Union of India v. Dhanwanti Devi and Ors. (1996 (5) SCC 44). In Ashok Nagar
Plot Holders Association v. State of U.P. (1997 (10) SCC 77) this Court again
observed that liability to pay interest to the claimant arises only in
accordance with Section 34 of the Act. As the Act is a self-contained Code,
common law principles of justice, equity and good conscience cannot be extended
in awarding interest, contrary to or beyond provisions of the statute.
view of what has been indicated above, the conclusion is irresistible that
while exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution there is no
scope for direction to pay interest in a manner not contemplated by either
Section 28 or 34.
view of the above the appeals deserve to be allowed which we direct. The
impugned judgments of the High Court are set aside.
..................................J. (Dr. ARIJIT PASAYAT)
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