New Delhi: A five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra will decide on the quantum of compensation to be paid for land acquisition and when an award commences – an issue which has created a rift between judges of the top court. The Constitution Bench will examine the correctness of the payment of compensation to the land owners whose land has been acquired as well as when the award granting compensation will come into effect.

The Bench said it will examine the correctness of the 2014 and 2018 judgements or any other judgement on land acquisition.

Other judges on the Bench are Justice A.K. Sikri, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justic D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Ashok Bhushan.

A three-judge bench headed by then Chief Justice R.M. Lodha had interpreted Section 24(2) of the 2013 law on Right to Fair Compensation.

This was over-ruled by another three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra on February 8, 2018.

The judgement by the three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra held that the 2014 judgement was passed due to negligence without taking into account the provisions of a 2013 law on land acquisition.

The matter was referred to Chief Justice Dipak Misra by two separate two-judge benches headed by Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Aadarsh Kumar Goel after another three-judge bench, taking exception to the February 8 ruling, directed all High Courts not to proceed with hearing on land acquisition matters pending before them.

The three-judge bench headed by Justice Madan B. Lokur on February 22, 2018 urged the other bench hearing the land acquisition matters to defer the hearing.

The bench headed by Justice Lokur objected as to how a three-judge bench can over-rule the judgement passed by another bench of the same strength.

Defending the over-ruling, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said there was nothing wrong if a three-judge bench holds per incuriam the judgement by three judges bench delivered in 2014.

He faulted the February 22, 2018 order by virtually putting it on hold.

At this Justice Sikri wondered how over-turning of the 2014 judgement was right but putting on hold the February 8 ruling by another three-judge bench was wrong.

Chief Justice Misra said that they will not go into the correctness or otherwise of the two judgements but look at Section 24(2) of the 2013 law providing for fair compensation to the land owners.

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Free Press Journal