Sonal Bhargava | Edited by Prabhat Bandhulya
The Calcutta High Court has stated that because the right to property is a valued right guaranteed under Section 300A of the Indian Constitution, the State cannot disclaim its commitment to make compensation for land acquisition only on the basis of delay. A bench consisting of Justice Arijit Banerjee and Justice Kausik Chanda was hearing an appeal brought against a decision of a Single Judge bench dismissing the appellants' writ petition. The appellant had requested that the relevant land acquisition case be declared lapsed, and that they be given possession of their various pieces of property. Alternatively, it was requested that the respondent authorities be directed to acquire the appellants' land and compensate them in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act of 1894. The Court also noted that the State admitted in its evidence that the appellants are the "patta" holders in respect of the State's vested land and that the appellants' land had been acquired. It was also opined that the fact that the lands in question were taken in 1993 without any acquisition is irrelevant because the acquisition proceeding was only revived in 1999 by the issuance of a notice under Section 9(3A) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, as amended by the West Bengal State Amendment Act. The Court further highlighted that the appellants had sought the Court in 2005, and that any delay in this matter would not be fatal to a claim for compensation guaranteed by Article 300A of the Indian Constitution. As a result, the Court ordered the State to investigate whether the appellants have an interest in the disputed properties and whether they have been bought and used for the Calcutta Leather Complex project. If the responses are determined to be yes, the State must pay compensation to the appellants, as well as any statutory advantages, within two months of the date of communication of this ruling, treating it as a case of deemed acquisition.