Land compensation conflict: SC to set bench to resolve

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The Supreme Court has set up a Constitution bench to consider from October 15 a batch of matters including the one related to the effect of delay in compensation in land acquisition cases arisen out of conflicting views by two three-judge benches.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Indira Banerjee, Vineet Saran, M R Shah, and S Ravindra Bhat would take up the matters related to the interpretation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation, Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

On February 8, 2018, a majority judgement delivered by a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Mishra in the 'Indore Development Authority' case had declared a previous 2014 verdict of another three-judge bench on the same subject as per incuriam (without care for law or facts).

The 2014 judgement in the 'Pune Municipal Corporation' case stated that the acquisition would lapse if the acquired land was not taken and the compensation was not paid, five years prior to coming into force of the 2013 Act.

When the contradiction between the two judgments was pointed out to another three-judge bench, on February 20, 2018, this bench called it “judicial indiscipline”.

On March 8, 2018, the matter was referred to the Constitution bench to decide if a Supreme Court bench can pronounce a co-ordinate bench's decision as per incuriam without referring the question to a larger bench.

This bench is also to consider the correctness of the 2014 and 2018 as well as other judgements on the subject.

Besides this contentious issue, four other cases have been listed before the Constitution bench. Among the questions to be determined are whether an anticipatory bail should be for a limited period of time. Another issue to be decided by the five-judge bench is whether the trial would stand vitiated in case the complainant is the investigating officer.

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