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Focus: GS-II Governance

Why in news?

The Supreme Court on 6th March 2020, reaffirmed its February 2018 ruling on Section 24 on land acquisition compensation awards, given by a three-judge bench

What is Land Acquisition Act, 2013?

  • Land Acquisition Act, 2013 is an Act of Indian Parliament that regulates land acquisition and lays down the procedure and rules for granting compensation, rehabilitation and resettlement to the affected persons in India.
  • The Act has provisions to provide fair compensation to those whose land is taken away, brings transparency to the process of acquisition of land to set up factories or buildings, infrastructural projects and assures rehabilitation of those affected.
  • The Act establishes regulations for land acquisition as a part of India’s massive industrialisation drive driven by public-private partnership.
  • The Act replaced the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, a nearly 120-year-old law enacted during British rule.

What was Section 24 previously?

  • Section 24 (2) which concerns land acquisition compensation awards made five years “prior or more” to the coming of existence of the 2013 Act, which replaced the 1894 law.
  • The provision said that in such cases, if the physical possession has not been taken “or” the compensation is not paid, the acquisition proceeding is “deemed to have lapsed”.
  • The government, if it so wishes, would have to initiate “fresh acquisition proceedings” under the new Act of 2013, which provides for “fair compensation”.

What were the changes in Section 24?

  • The Court currently said compensation would be considered paid if the amount is put in the Treasury. There was no obligation that the amount should be deposited in the court in order to sustain the land acquisition proceedings under the 2013 Act.
  • Further, the court held that a land acquisition proceeding under Section 24(2) would only lapse if the authorities have neither taken physical possession nor paid the compensation due to the landowner for five or more years prior to January 1, 2014. For this, an “or” in the Section was “interpreted” as an “and”.
  • Thus, there is no lapse if possession has been taken and compensation has not been paid. Similarly, there is no lapse if compensation has been paid and possession not taken of the land.
  • Further, the Bench held that Section 24(2) of the Act of 2013 does not give rise to a new cause of action to question the legality of concluded proceedings of land acquisition.
February 2024