The High Court of Bombay bench at Aurangabad passed a judgement on 04 May 2023. In the case of BALAWANT S/O RABHAU SHINGARE … VS THE EXECUTIVE ENGINEER IN FIRST APPEAL NO.253 OF 2015 which was passed by a division bench comprising of HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE V. V. KANKANWADI and HONOURABLE SHRI JUSTICE ABHAY S. WAGHWASE Land acquisition is a legal process involving the compulsory purchase of private property by the government for public use. Disputes often arise when landowners challenge the compensation awarded to them for their acquired land. In this analysis, we will examine a specific judgment, Land Acquisition Reference Nos. 497 of 2012 and 498 of 2012, which revolves around the construction of a godown by the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (M.S.E.B.). The case involves arguments regarding compensation and evidence presented by both parties.
The land in question is situated in the village of Shekapur, Osmanabad, and was acquired by the government for the construction of a godown. The land acquisition process commenced with a notification under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act on September 15, 1993, although possession had already been taken through negotiation on March 25, 1992. The Special Land Acquisition Officer awarded compensation to the landowners on June 25, 1996. Dissatisfied with the awarded amount, the landowners filed a reference under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act, seeking enhanced compensation.
The landowners claimed that they were not given the opportunity to present evidence during the acquisition proceedings and that the award was declared ex-parte or arbitrarily. They argued that no rent or damages were paid for the possession taken prior to the notification. Additionally, they contended that the market price of the land in 1992-1993 was higher than the price calculated by the Special Land Acquisition Officer. The landowners emphasized the location of the acquired land, its potential for non-agricultural use, and its proximity to residential, educational, and commercial areas. They sought an enhancement of compensation to Rs. 100 per square foot.
The respondents, representing the government, asserted that the claimants were given a fair opportunity to present their case and support their claim. They argued that the evidence presented by the claimants was insufficient. The Special Land Acquisition Officer had already considered the prevailing market value, land quality, fertility, and topography. The respondents claimed that the compensation awarded was adequate, considering the rural nature of the acquired land. They requested the rejection of the reference.
After considering the arguments and examining the evidence, the reference Court allowed the references filed by the claimants. The Court held that the claimants were entitled to enhanced compensation at the rate of Rs. 100 per square foot. Additionally, the court awarded a 30% solatium and a 12% additional component on the enhanced amount. Interest at a rate of 9% from the date of acquisition until September 15, 1994, and at a rate of 15% from September 16, 1994, to June 25, 1996, was also granted under Section 34 of the Land Acquisition Act.
In the case of Land Acquisition Reference Nos. 497 of 2012 and 498 of 2012, the landowners successfully challenged the compensation awarded to them for their acquired land. The court recognized the potential value of the land for non-agricultural use and its location in relation to residential, educational, and commercial areas. The judgment emphasized the need for fair compensation based on market value and awarded enhanced compensation to the claimants. This case highlights the importance of considering relevant evidence and factors when determining compensation in land acquisition cases.
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