Balakrishnan vs. UOI (Supreme Court)

DATE: January 11, 2017 (Date of pronouncement)
DATE: January 30, 2017 (Date of publication)
AY: 2009-10
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S. 10(37) Capital Gains: Meaning of "compulsory acquisition" under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 explained. The fact that the assessee entered into a settlement with the Collector regarding the compensation amount does not mean that the acquisition was not "compulsory" if the prescribed procedure was followed. Info Park Kerala vs. ACIT (2008) 4 KLT 782 overruled

(i) It is in the aforesaid factual backdrop, this Court is to determine as to whether it can be treated that the land of the appellant was compulsorily acquired. From the facts mentioned above, it becomes apparent that the acquisition process was initiated by invoking the provisions of LA Act by the State Government. For this purpose, not only Notification under Section 4 was issued, it was followed by declaration under Section 6 and even Award under Section 9 of the LA Act. With the award the acquisition under the LA Act was completed. Only thing that remains thereafter was to pay the compensation as fixed under the award and take possession of the land in question from the appellant. No doubt, in case, the compensation as fixed by the Land Acquisition Collector was not acceptable to the appellant, the LA Act provides for making a reference under Section 18 of the Act to the District Judge for determining the compensation and to decide as to whether the compensation fixed by the Land Acquisition Collector was proper or not. However, the matter thereafter is only for quantum of compensation which has nothing to do with the acquisition. It is clear from the above that insofar as acquisition is concerned, the appellant had succumbed to the action taken by the Government in this behalf. His only objection was to the market value of the land 6 that was fixed as above. To reiterate his grievance, the appellant could have either taken the aforesaid adjudicatory route of seeking reference under Section 18 of the LA Act leaving it to the Court to determine the market value. Instead, the appellant negotiated with Techno Park and arrived at amicable settlement by agreeing to receive the compensation in the sum of Rs. 38,42,489/-. For this purpose, after entering into the agreement, the appellant agreed to execute the sale deed as well which was a necessary consequence and a step which the appellant had to take.

(ii) In our view, insofar as acquisition of the land is concerned, the same was compulsorily acquired as the entire procedure prescribed under the LA Act was followed. The settlement took place only qua the amount of the compensation which was to be received by the appellant for the land which had been acquired. It goes without saying that had steps not been taken by the Government under Sections 4 & 6 followed by award under Section 9 of the LA Act, the appellant would not have agreed to divest the land belonging to him to Techno Park. He was compelled to do so because of the compulsory acquisition and to avoid litigation entered into negotiations and settled the final compensation. Merely because the compensation amount is agreed upon would not change the character of acquisition from that of compulsory acquisition to the voluntary sale. It may be mentioned that this is now the procedure which is laid down even under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 as per which the Collector can pass rehabilitation and resettlement award with the consent of the parties/land owners. Nonetheless, the character of acquisition remains compulsory.

(iii) This Court has doubts about the correctness of the judgment in the case of Info Park Kerala vs. Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (2008) 4 KLT 782. The Court in the said case took the view that since the title in the property was passed by the land owners on the strength of sale deeds executed by them, it was not a compulsory acquisition. We are not in agreement with the aforesaid view. It is clear that but for Notification under Section 4 and Award under Section 9 of the LA Act, the appellant would not have entered into any negotiations for the compensation of the consideration which he was to receive for the said land. As far as the acquisition of the land in question is concerned, there was no consent. The appellant was put in such a condition that he knew that his land had been acquired and he cannot reiterate the same. The appellant, therefore, only wanted to salvage the situation by receiving as much compensation as possible commensurate with the market value thereof and in the process avoid the litigation so that the appellant is able to receive the compensation well in time. If for this purpose the appellant entered into the negotiations, such negotiations would be confined to the quantum of compensation only and cannot change or alter the nature of acquisition which would remain compulsory. We, therefore, overrule the judgment of the Kerela High Court in Info Park Kerala vs. 8 Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax (2008) 4 KLT 782.

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