On November 4, 2022, the division bench of the Supreme Court of India, comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice M.M. Sundresh, allowed the civil appeal in the Delhi Development Authority v. Damini Wadhwa & Ors, challenging the order passed by the Delhi High Court.
The issue for consideration before the Court was whether the acquisition concerning the lands in question has lapsed under Section 24(2) of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, or not. The appellant, Delhi Development Authority, challenged the impugned order of the HC because it is unsustainable both on facts as well as on law. The High Court had allowed the petition filed by the respondents. It had declared that the acquisition concerning the lands in question, situated in the Revenue Estate of Village Maidan Garhi, NCT of Delhi, had lapsed according to Section 24(2) of the Act 2013. At the same time, the HC granted interim protection to various landowners who had filed suits concerning the said acquisition.
It must be noted that the lands in question, along with other agricultural lands, were notified to be acquired under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and the compensation/notification came to be declared by the Collector on June 17, 1987. Since then, various rounds of litigations have settled the acquisition of the lands in question (including the Om Parkash Vs. Union of India and Ors. case).
Ms Manika Tripathy, learned counsel on behalf of the appellant, challenged the petitioner's locus standi by arguing before the Court that due to the pending litigations, the possession of lands could not be possible for some portion of the acquisition.
The High Court did not understand that the vast land parcels were acquired under the same/different notifications. Because of outstanding litigations, some parcels of land could not be taken over, and compensation could not be lodged. Hence, the Supreme Court ruled that the High Court made an error in declaring the lapse of acquisition under Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013. The purchase procedures under the Act of 1894 were the subject of dispute, and the Court eventually affirmed the acquisition processes. It was held that no subsequent purchaser could claim a lapse of land acquisition proceedings as prescribed under Section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013.