SC says will look into merits of land acquisition cases of Pune municipality and Indore Development Authority
It was initially not clear whether the Constitution Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, would look at the merits of the cases or just rule on the issue of judicial process and propriety.Updated: Mar 06, 2018 21:34 IST
A Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it would actually go into the merits of two cases of land acquisition, one involving the Pune Municipal Corporation and another the Indore Development Authority and rule on them, instead of merely ruling on whether a three-judge bench’s 2014 judgment in the first case could effectively be overturned by another three-judge bench’s 2018 judgment in the second case.
It was initially not clear whether the bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, would look at the merits of the cases or just rule on the issue of judicial process and propriety.
The matter will be taken up after the bench finishes with petitions related to the constitutional validity of section 377 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which makes consensual physical relationship between two adults of the same sex a criminal offence. Currently, the bench is hearing petitions against the Aadhaar scheme.
Although the bench did not formally stop other courts from hearing land acquisition cases, it noted that “judicial propriety” required other judges to keep their “hands away” when a constitution bench is seized of a matter.
On February 8, a bench of Justices Arun Mishra, AK Goel and MM Shantanagouder ruled that land acquisition by a government agency cannot be set aside even if the plot owners do not accept the compensation that has been set aside for this purpose.
This view was in the Indore Development Authority case and was contrary to a 2014 judgment by a bench of Justices RM Lodha, MB Lokur and Kurien Joseph in the Pune Municipal Corporation matter.
On February 22, a bench of justices Lokur, Joseph and Deepak Gupta said Justice Mishra’s bench had displayed a lack of judicial propriety. The bench said it was considering referring the matter to a larger bench.
A day later, Justices Misra and Goel asked the CJI, in separate orders, to constitute a larger bench and settle the differences.
On Tuesday, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi on behalf of landowners criticized the February 8 judgment and said that subsequent to it (and based on it) Justice Mishra had disposed 100 cases. He demanded the bench consider giving those cases a re-hearing once it gives a final judgement.