Set up Constitution Bench to resolve conflict in land acquisition verdicts,…


The three-judge bench had yesterday said that perhaps there have been a tinkering with judicial discipline in arriving at a conclusion in the February 8 verdict as the issue should have been to referred to a larger bench in case of difference of opinion, as a 2014 judgement had held that non-payment of compensation would be a ground to cancel the land acquisition. If the Supreme Court is one, it should be made one and you need a conscious judicial discipline to do that. This was done despite the fact that the Justice Lokur bench, on Wednesday, indicated that it would decide whether the matter should be referred to a larger bench in the next hearing. It was also not open to the person who had refused to accept compensation, to urge that since it had not been deposited in court, the acquisition had lapsed. The 2014 case - Pune Municipal Corporation & Anr. v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki & Ors- primarily involved the interpretation of Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.

A bench of the court is usually allowed to reject the verdict passed by a smaller bench. "This Court should function as one institution". "You have to have proper judicial discipline for that". The court wondered how a three-judge Bench could overturn the 2014 decision, which too, had been delivered by a three-judge Bench. By this order, the Justice Mishra-led bench pre-empted the three-judge bench headed by Justice Lokur from passing order for referral to a larger bench. "Such a system works on hierarchy and it needs to be preserved". It has requested High Courts and other Benches of the Supreme Court hearing matters that were likely to be impacted by the February 8 verdict to defer the hearings till it had decided whether to refer the matter to a larger Bench. The court will decide on how to proceed further on 7 March. "We do not mind", he observed.

A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Amitava Roy, while hearing certain Land Acquisitions matters today, ordered that in the light of the order passed yesterday in State of Haryana and Others versus M/s G.D. Goenka Tourism Corporation Limited and Another, it would be appropriate to place the matter before the Chief Justice of India for constitution of appropriate Bench. The 2014 verdict on the other hand held that "the deposit of compensation amount in the Government treasury is of no avail and can not be held to be equivalent to compensation paid to the landowners/persons interested". This section deals with what should be done in cases where land acquisition was initiated under the original 1894 Act, which was replaced by the 2013 Act.

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The bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra had actually reversed the 2014 decision stating it was provided "per incurium", which implies without taking into complete account realities and law. "On Tuesday, 60 cases were disposed of. Due to the retirement of one of the judges, urgency is shown by the bench and is not ready to defer the matter", he said. "If it wants to correct an earlier judgment, it should be done by the larger bench to make it as the last word", Justice Kurian Joseph said. "That's the judicial discipline adopted by apex court".

On Wednesday, a Bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta had passed an order virtually staying a February 8, 2018 order passed by a Bench of Justices Arun Mishra, Adarsh K Goel and Mohan M Shantanagouder in relation to land acquisition cases.