New Delhi, Jun 29: Land acquisition proceedings will become illegal if government fails to observe the mandatory requirement of issuing public notices to the affected parties, the Supreme Court has held, quashing Maharashtra government's acquisition of a piece of land for a defence unit.
A bench of justices H L Dattu and A R Dave said that besides notifying the acquisition in the official gazette, the authorities were bound to notify the affected persons through media notifications in at least two newspapers in the local region.
“Since the mandatory requirement as required under Section 4(1) of the Act is not complied with by the respondents, while acquiring the land in question, in our opinion, the entire acquisition proceedings requires to be declared as null and void.
“We restrict the claim of the appellants only to 50 per cent of the land in question, namely, land in Survey No.119/3 Pt situated at Village Malad, Taluka, Borivali, District Bombay Suburban,” the bench said in an order.
Petitioner Kulsum Nadiadwala and other legal heirs of one Ismail Nadiadwala had filed the appeal in the apex court challenging a Bombay High Court order refusing to quashing the acquistion.
On 24.10.1975, the state government had issued a notification underSection 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, to acquire certain pieces of land situated in different villages for the purpose of establishing Central Ordinance Depot.
According to the appellants, they were the legal heirs of deceased Ismail Nadiadwala and the land was jointly owned by him with Ibrahim Nadiadwala.
But the authorities issued no notice to the them and, after hearing only Ibrahim Nadiadwala, an award came to be passed by the state government on September 23, 1986.
The apex court agreed with the legal heirs' contention that the authorities ought to have issued public notice at the time of the acquisition.
The bench cited the apex court's earlier ruling in the J&K Housing Board v. Kunwar Sanjay Krishan Kaul (2011), wherein, it was observed that all the formalities of serving notice to the interested person, stipulated under Section 4 of the Act, has to be mandatorily complied with in the manner provided therein, even though the interested persons have knowledge of the acquisition proceedings.
Section 4(1) of the Act, stipulated that a notification to that effect shall be published in the official gazette and in two daily newspapers circulating in that locality of which at least one shall be in the regional language, and the Collector shall cause public notice of the substance of such notification to be given at convenient places in the said locality.