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The state cannot hold possession of private land without acquisition; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul & Justice K M Joseph

The SC {D.B. BASNETT (D) Through LRs v. THE COLLECTOR East District, Gangtok, Sikkim & Anr.} holds that following the procedure of Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 (akin to Section 5(1) of the local Act) is mandatory, and unless that notice is given in accordance with the provisions contained therein, the entire acquisition proceeding would be vitiated. An entry into the premises based on such non-compliance would result in the entry being unlawful. It was held that the law being ex-propriatory in character, the same is required to be strictly followed. The purpose of the notice is to intimate the interested persons about the intent to acquire the land. 

It was held that the respondents have failed to establish that they had acquired the land in accordance with law and paid due compensation. Further held that the appellant would, thus, be entitled to the possession of the land as also damages for illegal use and occupation of the same by the respondents, at least, for a period of three (3) years prior to the notice having been served upon them.  On account of the judgment of the SC in LAO v. M. Ramakrishna Reddy, (2011) 11 SCC 648, where it was held that the owner can be entitled to damages for wrongful use and possession of land in respect of which no notification is issued under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, from the date of possession till the date such notification is finally published.

In the present case, the sum and substance of the claim made by the appellants was that the procedure envisaged under the Sikkim Land (Requisition and Acquisition) Act, 1977  had not been invoked or followed. The plea raised was that no notice of acquisition was ever published, nor any process followed for the same. Respondent No. 2 sought to raise a defence to the suit of the bar of limitation. The appeal was allowed by the SC holding possession of the government on the land of the appellant as illegal. 

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