Legal Blog: Compensation for Acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act : The Law

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Compensation for Acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act : The Law

Justice Raveendran
The Supreme Court in Anjani Molu Dessai Vs. State of Goa has examined the legal position with regard to the payment of compensation for acquisition of land under the Land Acquisition Act. One of the main grievance raised by owners of such lands, is that the compesation provided is a meagre amount as compared to the real market price. The Supreme Court has examined the aforesaid legal proposition and held as under;

13. The legal position is that even where there are several exemplars with reference to similar lands, usually the highest of the exemplars, which is a bona fide transaction, will be considered. Where however there are several sales of similar lands whose prices range in a narrow bandwidth, the average thereof can be taken, as representing the market price. But where the values disclosed in respect of two sales are markedly different, it can only lead to an inference that they are with reference to dissimilar lands or that the lower value sale is on account of under-valuation or other price depressing reasons. Consequently averaging can not be resorted to. We may refer to two decisions of this Court in this behalf. 

13.1 In Sri Rani M. Vijayalakshmanna Rao Bahadur, Ranee of Vuyyur Vs. The Collector of Madras, 1969 (1) MLJ 45, a three Judge Bench of this Court observed that the proper method for evaluation of market value is by taking the highest of the exemplars and not by averaging of different types of sale transactions. This Court held: 

"It seems to us that there is substance in the first contention of Mr. Ram Reddy. After all, when the land is being compulsorily taken away from a person, he is entitled to say that he should be given the highest value which similar land in the locality is shown to have fetched in a bona fide transaction entered into between a willing purchaser and a willing seller near about the time of the acquisition. It is not disputed that the transaction represented by Exhibit R-19 was a few months prior to the notification under section 4, that it was a bona fide transaction and that it was entered into between a willing purchaser and a willing seller. The land comprised in the sale deed is 11 grounds and was sold at Rs.1,961 per ground. The land covered by Exhibit-27 was also sold before the notification, but after the land comprised in Exhibit R-19 was sold. It is true that this land was sold at Rs.1,096/- per ground. This, however, is apparently because of two circumstances. One is that betterment levy at Rs.500 per ground had to be paid by the vendee and the other that the land comprised in it is very much more extensive, that is about 93 grounds or so. Whatever that may be, it seems to us to be only fair that where sale deed, pertaining to different transactions are relied on behalf of the Government, that representing the highest value should be preferred to the rest unless there are strong circumstances justifying a different course. In any case we see no reason why an average of two sale deeds should have been taken in this case." 

13.2 In State of Punjab Vs. Hans Raj (1994) 5 SCC 734, this court held: 

"Having given our anxious consideration to the respective contentions, we are of the considered view that the learned single Judge of the High Court committed a grave error in working out average price paid under the sale transactions to determine the market value of the acquired land on that basis. As the method of averaging the prices fetched by sales of different lands of different kinds at different times, for fixing the market value of the acquired land, if followed, could bring about a figure of price which may not at all be regarded as the price to be fetched by sale of acquired land. One should not have, ordinarily recourse to such method. It is well settled that genuine and bona fide sale transactions in respect of the land under acquisition or in its absence the bona fide sale transactions proximate to the point of acquisition of the lands situated in the neighbourhood of the acquired lands possessing similar value or utility taken place between a willing vendee and the willing vendor which could be expected to reflect the true value, as agreed between reasonable prudent persons acting in the normal market conditions are the real basis to determine the market value."

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