Himachal Pradesh High Court Affirms Enhancement of Compensation in Renukaji Dam Project Case

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In this case, the petitioners filed a petition against the ruling made by the lower Court.  The ruling allowed the respondents to claim higher compensation. As the government acquired the land for a dam project, the Court affirmed the enhancement. Thus, the Court rejected the Petitioner’s plea.

Facts of the Case 

The government of Himachal Pradesh acquired land from the respondents of different villages. The government complied with Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act for the construction of Renukaji Dam. A Land Acquisition Collector determined different rates of compensation. The Collector decided the rates on the basis of the nature and classification of the land(s).

The Respondents were dissatisfied with the way of determination of the rates. Owing to the same, they approached the District Court. The Court accepted the plea of the respondents and enhanced the rates. 

Due to this, the beneficiary project preferred appeals under Section 54 of the Act.  They filed for an appeal in the High Court against the lower court’s judgment. The Court heard the appeals together and passed a common judgment.  The reason for the same was that they were all determined on the basis of common facts, law and evidence. The Parties relied upon sales deeds, awards and examined different witnesses. They used this information for claiming the right amount of compensation. Moreover, using the said information, the petitioners raised the appeals.

Petitioner’s Arguments

The counsel for the Petitioners argued that the earlier decision was to be overruled. The Counsel cited four grounds towards the same. 

First, the Court took sales deed of the small area into consideration. While doing this, the court ignored the apex court’s judgment and of  Land Acquisition Officer & Sub-Collector. Second, they considered awards related to another village. Doing the same amounted to ignorance of the judgement given by the apex courts. Third, the Panchayat were the owners of the land. The land was given to the Respondents only for agricultural work.  Again, the Court had ignored precedents given by the apex court in similar cases. Thus, there was no reason to give the Respondents compensation as they did not own the land. Fourth, the Court failed to make a deduction for development charges. Thus, the Court gave the judgment by ignoring all the precedent judgements.

Respondent’s Arguments

The Counsel argued that no development activity took place on the land. Hence, there was no need for any deduction.  Further, as all the plots were being used for one project, the rate should be uniform. The Counsel argued that the nature of the land had no relevance to the proposed dam project. Thus, the land acquired is in fact, a single unit. Thus, compensation from the government must be equal to the highest rate set by the Collector. No exemplar transactions were available from this village, to fix the compensation.  The respondent considered transactions (including sales deed and awards) of another village, Dungi Kandyon But, The Court disregarded these documents of the land(s) of the said village.

The Counsel argued that the Court was right to do so. The grounds for the same was that the rate was lower than even the lowest rate set by the Collector.  The details in the sales deeds were also not fit for consideration. There was no evidence for the relevance of these transactions. The Court followed all precedent judgments given by the Apex court. The counsel further stated that the village of Chuli Dadahu was alike Panar Kalyan. The Counsel stated that two villages Dheera Bangar and Mauja Dadahu were also alike. The Court rejected several documents from these villages due to dissimilarity.

The deed mentioned the rate of the land of the village Chuli Dadahu to be 8 lakhs more than the set rate of Five lakh Rupees. But the original rate set by the collector was not changed by the court as there was no demand for enhancement. Further, the Counsel submitted, that the set rate was 62% less.  This was enough deduction for an exemplar transaction. There was no evidence to support the claims of limited ownership of the Respondents. Also, there was no proof to support the claim that land was only for agricultural use.

Court’s Judgment 

The Court upheld the judgment of the lower court. In the observations, the Court upheld the Lower Court’s enhancement. The High Court hence approved the enhancement of compensation to Rs.5,00,000. The Court also dismissed the claim of limited ownership, by the Petitioners. Thus, the High Court dismissed the appeals.


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