SC: Period of stay by court to be excluded for purposes of S.11A of LA Act

The Hon’ble Supreme Court, on 04th September 2019, in the matter of The State of Maharashtra and other v. M/s Moti Ratan Estate and another observed that where the scheme of land acquisition is one, any order of stay if passed by Court of law,  granted in respect of one of the land owners would have a complete restraint for the authorities to proceed further even with respect to other pockets of land. Such a period of stay of action/proceedings deserves to be excluded while computing the statutory period of two years in passing of an award by the authority under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that:

When the scheme of the acquisition is one, interim stay granted in respect of one pocket of land would operate even with respect to other pockets of land and in such a situation the authorities are justified in not proceeding with the acquisition proceedings and therefore the acquisition proceedings would not lapse [Para 7.5 (i)]

Interim order of stay granted in respect of one of the land owners would have a complete restraint for the authorities to proceed further [Para 7.5 (ii)]

The extended meaning of the words “stay of the action or proceedings under Section 11A of the of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894” would mean that any interim effective order passed by the court which may come in the way of the authorities to proceed further. [Para 7.5 (iv)]

Explanation to Section 11A of the Land Acquisition Act is in the widest possible terms and there is no warrant for limiting the action or proceedings, referred to in the explanation, to actions or proceedings preceding the making of the award under Section 11 of the Act and therefore the period of injunction obtained by the land holders staying the acquisition and authorities from taking possession of the land has to be excluded in computing the period of two years. [Para 7.5 (v)]

The words “stay of the action or proceedings under Section 11A of the Land Acquisition Act” would mean that any order of stay in one or the other matter if passed by Court of law, which either prohibits or prevents the State authorities from passing of an award, such a period of stay of action/proceedings deserves to be excluded while computing the statutory period of two years in passing of an award by the authority under Section 11 of the Act. [Para 7.6]

It is true that there is no bar to have more than one declaration under Section 6 or the award under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act in reference to the self­same acquisition proceedings initiated under Section 4 followed with Section 6 of the Act but if there is a stay of the proceedings by a Court of law in any of the matter, that certainly prevents the authorities in taking its decision to complete the acquisition proceedings within the statutory period as mandated by law in passing of award within two years from the date of declaration under Section 6 of the Act. [Para 7.7]

If there is any stay over the action or proceeding by a Court of law, in one or the other matter arising from the self­ same acquisition proceedings in reference to Section 4 followed with Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, the authorities are said to be justified in the given facts and circumstances to stay their hands and await the decision of the Court and such a period during which there is a stay over the action or proceeding by a Court of law in a matter, that has to be excluded for all practical purposes, in computing the statutory period of two years in passing of an award under Section 11 of the Act. [Para 7.8]

Copy of judgement: Judgement_04-Sep-2019

-Adv. Tushar Kaushik

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