Supreme Court Outlines Procedural Safeguards for Land Acquisition Under Article 300A

Mainstream
17-May-2024
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The Supreme Court on Thursday delineated the procedural guidelines that must be followed by the government and its instrumentalities when acquiring land, thereby safeguarding a citizen's right to property under Article 300A of the Constitution. The ruling came in the case of Kolkata Municipal Corporation and anr vs Bimal Kumar Shah and ors.

A Bench of Justices PS Narasimha and Aravind Kumar emphasized that any acquisition of land without adhering to due process would be beyond the scope of legal authority. The Court underscored that the following procedural rights are conferred on a landowner by Article 300A:

1. Right to Notice: The State has a duty to inform the person that it intends to acquire his property.

2. Right to be Heard: The State must hear any objections to the acquisition.

3. Right to a Reasoned Decision: The State is obliged to inform the person of its decision regarding the acquisition.

4. Acquisition Only for Public Purpose: The State must demonstrate that the acquisition is for a public purpose.

5. Right to Fair Compensation: The State has a duty to provide fair compensation and ensure restitution and rehabilitation.

6. Right to Efficient Conduct: The State must conduct the acquisition process efficiently and within prescribed timelines.

7. Right of Conclusion: The proceedings must lead to a final conclusion, resulting in the vesting of property.

These procedural principles, the Bench explained, are integral to the lawful authority enabling the compulsory acquisition of private property and have now been cemented into administrative law jurisprudence.

The Court made these observations while dismissing appeals against a Calcutta High Court decision involving the Kolkata Municipal Corporation's land acquisition. The High Court had set aside the acquisition under Section 352 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act, ruling that a valid power of acquisition with fair compensation alone would not complete and exhaust the power and process of acquisition.

"Prescription of the necessary procedures before depriving a person of his property is an integral part of the ‘authority of law’ under Article 300A, and Section 352 of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation Act contemplates no procedure whatsoever," the Supreme Court noted.

In conclusion, the Supreme Court imposed a cost of ₹5 lakh on the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, to be paid to the respondent-landowner, affirming the need for adherence to due process in land acquisition.

Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta represented the Kolkata Municipal Corporation, while Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi, Huzefa Ahmadi, and Ranjeeta Rohatgi appeared for the State of West Bengal and the landowners.

Author: Anushka Taraniya 

News Writer, MIT ADT University