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Persons displaced by land acquisition have the right to be compensated within reasonable time: High Court of Chhattisgarh

It is not enough that persons who are displaced by land acquisition get due compensation, but they must be compensated within a reasonable time since many of them depend on land for livelihood and may suffer great losses without it. This was upheld by a single member bench consisting of Justice Goutam Bhaduri of the High Court of Chhattisgarh in the case of Sahani Ram v State of Chhattisgarh [ WPC No. 2156 of 2021 ] on 14th June 2021.

The petitioner, Sahani Ram and his family were displaced from their land in Janjgir Champa when it was acquired for the construction of Mirouni Bairaj in Land Acquision Case No. 23/A-82/2014-2015. The family was completely dependent on the land for their survival and they lost their source of livelihood when it was acquired, yet they have not been compensated for their loss or rehabilitated yet. The petitioner’s counsel argued that as per Section 38 of the Righ to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act 2013, rehabilitation benefits must be granted to those whose lands have been acquired within a prescribed time. It was also pointed out that in the case of Babualal Sahdev v State [ WPC No. 1717/2015 ] the High Court fixed a time frame to decide and implement the benefits of rehabilitation scheme as per the Act. It was also held in the same case that the government could be directed to take action against officials who were responsible for the delay in implementing compensation or rehabilitation.

Considering the facts of the given case, Justice Goutam Bhaduri concluded “Considering the fact that the award after acquisition was passed on 03.01.2017 and since the rehabilitation benefits were not granted as per Schedule-II of the Act, 2013, the petitioners have made representation to the Collector Janjgir Champa, it is directed that the Collector and Land Acquisition Officers shall decide the representations of the petitioners within a period of 4 months from the date of receipt of this order according to the Scheme of the Act of 2013 and the law laid down by this Court in Babulal Sahdev”.

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