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The Tribunal had no option but to disburse the amount of compensation payable to the Applicants: High Court Of Chhattisgarh

The property in question with regard to the amount of compensation, the Applicants were not entitled to be compensated under Section 14(2) of the Act of 1957, and accordingly, the claim was dismissed. Such an opinion was held by The Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh before The Hon’ble Shri Sanjay S. Agrawal in the matter of Sanjay Kumar Singh Vs. South Eastern Coalfields Limited [FA(M) 115 of 2018].

The facts of the case are associated with the applicants’ appeal under Section 20 (1) of the Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisition & Development) Act, 1957. The applicants questioned the legality of the order dated 17.08.2017 passed in P.T.T No.05/2017 where the applications filed under Section 14(2) of the Act of 1957 were rejected. The applicants sought compensation from non-applicants who had acquired the property in question. By submitting inter alia the applicants stated that they purchased the land from Non-Applicants No.5 to 11, and were the owners of the property. In 2015 the applicants came to know that their property was acquired by SECL, Gevra. The compensation amount was to be distributed to their vendors leading them to file the representations. 

It was claimed that the questioned property was acquired by them under the registered deeds of sale. Later, SECL had contended that the property in question was free from encumbrances and was vested with the Central Government under Section 10 of the said Act of 1957, therefore, the claim was not maintainable and liable to be rejected.  The Hon’ble Court, considering the pleadings stated “it has been observed by the Tribunal that since there is no dispute between SECL and Non-Applicants No.5 to 11 i.e. the erstwhile owners of the property in question with regard to the amount of compensation, therefore, the Applicants are not entitled to be compensated under Section 14(2) of the Act of 1957 and accordingly, the claim has been dismissed.”

On the other hand, the counsel representing the applicants stated that the Tribunal held the applicant not being entitled to obtain the compensation under Section 14(2) of the Act of 1957 was apparently contrary to law. Moreover, the applicant and vendors had no disputes regarding the property between each other, hence there was no occasion for the Tribunal to reject their claim. It appeared, that the Applicants have purchased the property in question from its vendors i.e. Non-Applicants No.5 to 11 under the registered deed of sales. Although during its acquisition, the Applicants were not the owners of it, their interests have not been disputed as evidenced by the bare perusal of the written statements filed by their vendors, who have undisputedly sold their interest over the property in question acquired by the said SECL. 

The Hon’ble Court hereby stated “it is evident that the amount of compensation payable under this Act may be tendered or paid to the persons who are interested and entitled for that unless restricted or prevented by any one or more of the contingencies as provided in sub-section (2) of the aforesaid provision. Since the title of the Applicants acquired under the above-mentioned sales were not disputed by their vendors nor of their entitlement to receive the amount of compensation, therefore, in view of the said background, the Tribunal had no option but to disburse the amount of compensation payable to the Applicants with regard to their respective shares.” 

The Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh scrutinised the facts and ruled out “ Consequently, the Appeal is allowed and the Applicants are entitled to receive the amount of compensation with regard to their respective shares as determined and payable under the Act of 1957.”

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Judgment reviewed by Bipasha Kundu

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