Bombay High Court Grants Relief To Ex-Landowners In Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project; Orders Compensation As Per 2013 Law

Bombay High Court Grants Relief To Ex-Landowners In Mumbai Trans Harbour Link Project; Orders Compensation As Per 2013 Law

The court on directed that the former landowners be paid compensation as per the 2013 law, which awards higher compensation amount as compared to the 1894 land acquisition law.

Rahul MUpdated: Wednesday, January 17, 2024, 08:39 PM IST
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Mumbai Trans Harbour Link | MMRDA

The Bombay High Court has granted relief to over 20 landowners, including farmers, in Jassi village in Raigad district whose lands were acquired for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) Project, or the Atal Setu.

The court on Tuesday directed that they be paid compensation as per the 2013 law, which awards higher compensation amount as compared to the 1894 land acquisition law.

A division bench of Justices BP Colabawalla and MM Sathaye noted that the landowners, who lost more than seven hectares of their land, should be compensated as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

'Lost their valuable property'

Directing the government to “expeditiously” carry out processes of granting compensation to the petitioners as per 2013 law, the bench remarked that “they have lost their valuable property quite some time back and yet haven’t received any compensation”.

The high court was hearing pleas filed by several landowners whose lands were acquired for the MTHL project. They claimed that after land acquisition, the proceedings were initiated under the 1894 Act. Around that time, the state land acquisition authorities invoked the urgency clause under Section 17 of the 1894 Act and hence no enquiry took place as per the procedure. Thereafter, a statutory declaration of land acquired for public purpose came to be published in the official gazette on December 22, 2012, the petitioners argued.

However, the award was passed only on April 22, 2015, it claimed.

The high court said it was clear that before the final award under the 1894 Act was passed, the 2013 law came into force on January 1, 2014. As per the new law, if no award was passed in proceedings arising from the 1894 Act, the award was required to be passed within one year from January 1, 2014. Moreover, the notification of 2014 that provided for calculation of market rate for land acquired under the 1894 Act for compensation under 2013 law had been stayed for 79 days. Therefore, the award had to be passed by March 20, 2015.

Since, no award had been passed before the 2013 law came into force or within a year thereafter, the land acquisition proceedings have clearly lapsed, the bench said.

Also, even though the urgency clause was invoked, no compensation had been paid until the passing of the award. Further, the possession of the lands was not taken till the filing of the petitions in 2018.

Petitioners’ advocate Rahul Thakur, submitted that the possession of land was taken after the court order. They said they do not wish to thwart the project, but were expecting fair compensation as per the 2013 law.

The judges have clarified that although the land acquisition has lapsed, the possession of the lands shall not revert to the petitioners. They will, however, be entitled to compensation for their land which shall be determined by the state by passing a fresh award after following the procedure and the provisions as laid down under the 2013 Act.

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