The Bombay High Court recently set aside a Maharashtra government decision from September 2018 that exempted the Nagpur-Mumbai expressway (Samruddhi super expressway) project from using the ready reckoner (RR) rate as per the Maharashtra Stamp Act, 1958, to determine the market value of the acquired land.
The bench of Justices SV Gangapurwala and Vinay Joshi passed the verdict while hearing a bunch of petitions where it was submitted that it was unfair on the part of the state to differentiate between projects while determining the compensation amount for land acquisition as it violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
As per the corrigendum, the project-affected people, whose land was acquired by the government, were not entitled to compensation based on the RR rate.
In a plea, the petitioners had challenged the decision claiming that the state cannot determine the quantum of compensation for projects by applying different policies.
The court found that the corrigendum differed from the provisions of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 and rules framed in 2014 governing the principle for determination of compensation of the amount.
“Such executive instructions contrary to the provision of the statute (and) rules cannot be sustained. The same would be beyond the purview of the powers conferred on an executive under Article 162 of the Constitution,” the HC added.
According to the GR released on August 13, 2018, the state had decided to consider the RR rate to determine the market value of the land to be acquired for all projects. However, through the corrigendum issued in September 2018, exception was made for the Nagpur-Mumbai expressway project.
The HC held that while the circular of August 13, 2018, was as per law, the corrigendum did not comply with the same.
HC said, “Only because 83 per cent of property for the project has been acquired, it would be egregious not to apply the provisions of the statute for determination of compensation. If by private negotiation land has been acquired, the compensation paid cannot be the criteria to determine the market value for claimants who do not agree for private negotiation. The compensation shall have to be computed in accordance with the provisions and statute and rule of law.”