Uttarakhand High Court Dismisses Writ Of Certiorari In A Land Acquisition Case: Points Out The Ingredients For Exercising Power Under Article 226

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The writ of certiorari was filed before the High Court of Uttarakhand under Article 226 of the constitution of India praying to issue directions to the Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO) concerned to pass an award in view of the provisions contained “Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 which repealed the earlier Land Acquisition Act, 1894.

Brief facts of the case

The petitioner is the owner of the land measuring 1.26 acres situated in revenue village, Jakhan in the district of Dehradun. The U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad acquired 30.35 Acres of land in Village Jakhan for residential housing scheme known as “Rajpur Road Bhumi Vikas and Grah Sathan Yogna-1, Dehradun”, which included the land of the petitioner.

The notification was published in the Official Gazette in 1972 and award of the land was made in the year 1983. The possession was taken in the year 1981. The said land of the petitioner was notified and possession was taken but no award was made by the SLAO pursuant to the acquisition notification. Feeling aggrieved by non- awarding of compensation, the owner preferred a writ petition before the Hon’ble High court. The said petition was disposed of by the court in the year 2006, stating that since the award had not been made within 2 years from the date of notification, the acquisition proceedings had lapsed in view of Section 11A of the 1894 Act and fresh notifications were required to make the award in accordance with the law.

Feeling aggrieved by the said order, the U.P. Avas Evam Vikas Parishad preferred a special leave petition before the Apex Court in the year 2007 which was dismissed. Thereafter review and curative petitions were also dismissed in the year 2014. Despite directions issued by the court in the year 2006, the award was not made by the SLAO. Thereafter, the present writ petition has been filed.

Arguments before the court

The respondents contended that the writ petition is not maintainable in view of Section 26 of the 2013 Act under which the collector is under a duty to determine the market value of the disputed property while calculating compensation. The respondents also stated that since the compensation had not been awarded to the petitioner and since a reference was pending under Section 64 of the Act before the authorities, there were chances for enhancement of compensation and hence, the present writ petition was liable to be dismissed. They also stated that under Section 95, the petitioner had the right to participate and adduce evidence.

The counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that there was no statutory remedy available to the requiring body under the Act, and there is no challenge to the award, the present writ petition was maintainable. They took the view that no person should be left remediless and in the absence of an alternative efficacious remedy, the present writ petition was maintainable. The court decided the maintainability issue in favour of the petitioner.

Court’s Decision, Lists criteria for exercising power under Article 226 and 227

The Uttarakhand High Court stated that the power under Article 226 and 227 of the constitution may be exercised in cases occasioning grave injustice such as when the court or tribunal has assumed a jurisdiction which it does not have, it has failed to exercise a jurisdiction which it does have, the jurisdiction though available is being exercised in a manner that is tantamount to overstepping the limits of jurisdiction. The petitioner had to succeed in convincing the court regarding any of the three ingredients in order to make out a case for the interference of this court in exercising power under Article 226. The high court held that the remedy under Article 226 was not an appealable remedy and could be used only in cases where there had been a blatant manifestation of a miscarriage of justice. Considering the fact that the petitioner had technical inconsistencies in his statement and that he failed to prove any perversity, illegality or arbitrariness in the award passed in the impugned award, the present petition was liable to be dismissed. The court stated that the current writ petition was devoid of merit and dismissed the same.


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