The Supreme Court has cancelled the acquisition of a plot of land by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) which failed to pay compensation for more than five decades after notifying the takeover in 1961.
The DDA had acquired the 13.2 acres of land –roughly the size of 8 football grounds -- for “planned development” of the Capital but will now have to return the plot in Vasant Kunj to the three owners.
A bench of justices Kurian Joseph and RF Nariman noted that the even after the DDA took possession of the land in 2000, the “owners have yet to see the colour of the paltry amount of compensation offered which has neither been tendered nor paid to them”.
The 2013 Land Acquisition Act says the state cannot take away land if the acquisition process — including the payout — is not completed within five years.
In 2014, the landholders had moved the Delhi high court which decided in their favour. “It is high time that the State realises that persons whose property is expropriated need to be paid immediately so as to rehabilitate themselves,” the bench said on Friday while dismissing DDA’s plea against the HC judgment.
The court also referred to a Delhi government order of 2006 that says the actual payment to land owners must be made within 60 days of taking possession.
A senior official said the DDA is likely to file a review petition in the top court.
“About seven acres of land…was handed over to the Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences hospital for constructing its administrative block. But now the project is put on hold.”
DDA, the government agency that acquires and develops land in the national capital, admitted before the top court that the compensation money was deposited with the Land Acquisition Collector only in 2002.
The Land Acquisition Collector sat over the money till the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, came into force.
(With inputs from Vibha Sharma)