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Case Reviews, The Law

G. Prema v. SPL.Tahsildar, Tirupattur [2010] INSC 216

The instant case deals with the issue that whether the appellant is entitled to an increase in the amount of value of the land on the market value from the date of notification under section 4(1) of the LA Act till the date of award of the Collector? 

By: Harshal Kumar, Semester III, Year II B.A.L.L.B (Hons.), National Law University, Delhi.

Case Note:

Property – Acquisition – Compensation – Present appeal filed against order whereby High Court hold that value of land decided by Reference Court on basis of sale deed would be more appropriate because sale deed related to sale of land which was also subject matter of same acquisition – Held, acquired lands are situated on outskirts surrounded by developed areas – Land was acquired for making housing sites for weaker sections which also shows their potential for development – Deduction of 60 per cent towards development cost would be appropriate – If consider sale deed as basis, as there is gap of three years – Having regard to situation and potential, providing cumulative increase of 12 per cent for 3 years over base disclosed by sale deed would be appropriate – High Court awarded additional amount at 12 per cent and solatium at 30 per cent which is proper – Hence, appeals allowed in part as compensation for land is increased, compensation awarded in regard to well and structure is not disturbed and Respondent permitted to draw back any amount deposited in excess

Facts

  • Survey Nos. 59/3 and 59/1 of the village of Jolarpettai, Tirupattur Taluk, measuring 1,43 acres and 5,07 acres belonging to the respective appellant in both appeals (along with another 0,27 acre) were acquired to provide house sites for poorer parts, according to a preliminary notification dated 7 June 1989.
  • The Court of Reference increased the compensation to Rs.4,17,600/- per acre by its judgment and award dated 11.9.1995. It relied on a sale deed Ex. A1 dated 23.12.1988 concerning the sale of a 2520 sq. plot of land. Ft. in nearby Survey No.65/3 for Rs.30,870/- which works at Rs.12.25 per sq.ft. Or Rs.533,610/- for every acre. The Court of Reference took market value under Ex, however. A1 as sq.ft rs.12. Or the market value of the acquired land at Rs.4,176/- percent or Rs.4,17,600/- per acre, after deducting 1/4th (Rs.1044/-) from it in respect of the cost of development. The State, feeling aggrieved, appealed to the High Court.

Issues:

Whether the Appellant be entitled to an increase in the amount of value of the land on the market value from the date of notification under section 4(1) of the LA Act till the date of award of the Collector? 

Rules:

Land Acquisition Act, 1894 [repealed] – Section 23(2), Land Acquisition Act, 1894 [repealed] – Section 4(1)

Procedural History:

The High Court was of the view that relying on Ex would be more appropriate. A2 dated 11.8.1986 referring to the sale of land which was also the subject of the same acquisition. Under Ex. A2, one of the appellants (Prema) had sold 15 cents of land at Sy. For Rs.18,750/- No.59/3 which worked at Rs.1,250 percent or Rs.125,000/- per acre. Since the sale was from the year 1986 and the preliminary notification was from the year 1989, the High Court provided an increase of 10 percent per year, that is to say, Rs.375/- for three years, and reached the market value of Rs.1,625/- percent or Rs.162,500/- per acre. Consequently, the High Court has partially allowed the appeals and reduced the compensation from Rs.4,17,600/- to Rs.1,62,500/- per acre.

Arguments:

Appellants: 

  • The appellants contended that the High Court committed an error in relying on Ex. A2 as it was nearly 3 years before the acquisition and there was a steep increase in the value of land during that period.

They contended that Ex. A1 relating to Survey No. 65/3 which was a nearby land, was more appropriate for determining compensation as it was a sale on 23.12.1988, much nearer to the date of acquisition.

  • They contended that the compensation awarded by the Reference Court ought not to have been interfered with by the High Court.

Alternatively, they contended that even if Ex. A2 had to be relied on, the price thereunder should have been increased cumulatively at least by 30% per annum. 

Respondent: 

  • Learned Counsel for the respondent – state submitted that when a sale deed executed by one of the claimants relating to an acquired land was available, the High Court was justified in taking note of that transaction (Ex. A2 dated 11.8.1986) in preference to Ex. A1 dated 23.12.1988 which related to land farther away. 
  • While Ex. A2 relied on by the High Court relates to 15 cents of land whereas Ex. A1 relied on by the Reference Court was regarding a small plot of developed land measuring hardly 2 cents that are 2520 sq.ft. and therefore Ex. A2 dated 11.8.1986 was rightly preferred instead of Ex. A1 dated 23.12.1988. 
  • The respondent also contended that the increase in value per year was rightly taken as 10% and that is the standard increase, should not be interfered with.

Decision:

Land compensation is increased from Rs.162,500 per acre to Rs.195,000 per hectare. Compensation granted in respect of well and structure shall not be disturbed. The appellants shall be entitled to an additional amount @ 12% per annum on the market value from the date of notification under section 4(1) of the LA Act until the date of the collector’s award and to a solatium amount of 30% of the market value and the aggregate interest including solatium @ 9% per annum for one year from the date of taking possession and 15% per annum there. The respondent is allowed to withhold any amount deposited exceeding what is due as stated above. The respondent shall be entitled to recover the same if the appellants have drawn any amount exceeding what is due to them. Parties to bear the costs incurred.

Precedents

  1. Sardar Joginder Singh v. State of U.P. 2008 (17) SCC 133
Case Reviews, The Law

Overnite Express Limited vs Delhi Metro Rail Corporation [2020]

The present petitions deal with Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 in lieu of seeking direction to the Respondent to handover the licensed area on ‘as is where is basis’, including relief seeking an injunction of the Respondent from raising invoices and restraining Respondent from taking any coercive steps under the 4 License Agreements all dated 04.02.2019.

By: Hanoon Vahab, 3rd Year, BBA LLB, Geeta Institute of Law.

Background

Despite the material alterations and damage in the Areas by removing fixtures, fittings from concourse level to the first floor, and several requests made by the Petitioner to rectify the defects and restore the premises, the Respondent, on 23.07.2019 and 25.07.2019 raised invoices for payment of License Fee w.e.f. 10.08.2019; which led to the filing of the present petitions.

Facts

  • On July 9, 2018, Respondent Corporation invited open bids by E-tender for Licensing of commercial space at New Delhi Metro Station of Delhi Airport Express Line of DMRC network on “as is where is basis” and provided the site visit of the areas for a pre-bid site inspection and survey.
  • At the time of the site visit, it was found that there were partly constructed 20 units and 5 halls at the Concourse level. Whereas, facilities including white false ceilings with an adequate number of functional LED lights, each unit having individual isolators and power cables along with separate water inlet, having chill water pipelines for Air conditioning with fresh air ducting for ventilation and smoke extraction system and having fire sprinklers, smoke detectors were found in good working condition.
  • Likewise, the area on the ground and the first floor was also found partly constructed but with power cables, isolators, etc.

On 8 August 2018, the petitioner submitted the bid for all 4 Scheduled Areas along with the Tender document fee and rupees 4,878,000/- towards refundable Security Deposit which was then declared successful.

  • On 22 October 2018, Separate Letters of Acceptance were issued by the Respondent with respect to the 4 areas and the petitioner deposited the advance rental for a period of 12 months for each of the scheduled areas totalling an amount of rupees 6,35,06,937/-.
  • On 4 February 2019, 4 license Agreements were executed and were registered on 26 April 2019 in the office of the Sub- Registrar.
  • On February 11, 2019, Respondent invited the Petitioner for joint measurements and handed over the areas to him to enable the Licensee to carry out the business activities in terms of Clause 6.2 of the License Agreement.

On the said date, the measurement for only Schedule 1 Area could be carried and possession was taken over while the other levels were in a severely damaged condition and in contrast with the one represented at the pre-bid stage. Thus, possession was not taken and the same was reported to the respondent to rectify various deficiencies.

  • On February 12, 2019, the Respondent informed the petitioner that there was a deemed handing over of the areas to the petitioner. Thereafter, on 3rd May 2019 request was also made to provide the necessary connection to carry out the finishing work in the areas and also deposited the requisite charges and there was no response from the respondent.
  • Despite the hurdles, the Petitioner submitted the layout plans and drawings on 30.05.2019 regarding the existing spaces and also sent several reminders thereafter to take necessary action to restore the premises for use by the Petitioner.
  •  Instead of heeding to the various demands of the Petitioner for rectification of the premises, the Respondent, on 23.07.2019 and 25.07.2019 raised invoices for payment of License Fee w.e.f. 10.08.2019.

Arguments Advanced

Petitioner

  • The Petitioner contended that it was obligatory upon the Respondent to hand over the commercial space as they were on the date of the pre-bid site visit i.e. 19th July 2018, without any change or alteration.

It was also argued that the Respondent should be restrained from terminating the Agreements and the subject matter in aid of the Arbitration be preserved and protected.

  • It was next argued that the petitioner should be protected from coercive actions by the Respondent and a direction be given not to raise any further invoices and to provide an injunction.
  • It was further contended that on account of the breach by the Respondent, a substantial loss is being caused to the Petitioner who has made substantial investments and has been negotiating with several prospective sub-licensees including Multinational Companies.

Respondent

The Respondent submitted that present petitions are not maintainable as none of the prayers sought therein can be granted in law as in:

  • It was argued that the License Agreements being determinable, cannot be enforced by this Court by way of mandatory injunction, and also Petitioner has an alternate remedy to claim damages or compensation for the alleged breach of the Agreements.
  • He further contended that Clause (D) is for an interim injunction restraining the Respondent from taking coercive steps against the Petitioner under the License Agreements and is clearly barred under Section 41(e).
  • It was next argued that the petition is otherwise liable to be rejected as the Petitioner has failed to make out any prima facie case in its favour.
  • Furthermore, the contention of the Petitioner that Respondent is in breach of the Agreement is neither borne out from the pleadings nor could the petitioner substantiate the breach during the arguments and on the contrary, non-payment of the license fee for the commercial space in question would cause serious loss to the Respondent who needs money for its various projects.
  • Moreover, it was for the Petitioner to have assessed the commercial viability on ‘as is where is basis’ as stated in the terms and conditions of the Tender and also in accordance with Clause 6.2 was also cited to inform the Petitioner that ‘rent-free fitment period’ was restricted only to 180 days from the date of handing over the licensed spaces. 

Precedents

  • RPS Educational Society (Regd.) vs. DDA, OMP 538/2008

Referring to the judgement of this case, it can be seen that an order under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act cannot be passed by the Court directing specific performance of the contract, the breach of which is alleged by the petitioner.

  • Excel Generators Pvt. Ltd. Vs. IJ M Corporation Berhad OMP No. 241/09 

In this judgement, the court had observed that where a contract is a terminable contract and it can be foreclosed, the interim relief under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act cannot be granted for specific performance of the contract.

  • Adhunik Steels Ltd vs Orissa Manganese And Minerals … on 10 July 2007

In reference to this judgement, the court observed that it would not be correct to say that the power under Section 9 of the Act is totally independent of the well-known principles governing the grant of an interim injunction that generally governs the courts in this connection. 

In the judgement, the court observed that once a contract is determinable in nature and has been terminated by one party to the contract, the same cannot be revived or restored by a Court and specific performance of the same cannot be sought by the defaulting party.

  • RPS Educational Society (Regd.) vs. DDA, OMP 538/2008

In this judgement, the court stated that an order under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act cannot be passed by the Court directing specific performance of the contract, the breach of which is alleged by the petitioner.

In reference to this judgement, the court observed that Sec. 37 specifically provides that temporary injunctions which have to continue until a specified time or until further order of the court are regulated by the Code of Civil Procedure.

In reference to this judgment, the court observed that the Court had powers under Section 9 of the Act, akin to the powers of a Civil Court under Order 39 Rules 1 & 2 CPC, for grant of interim injunction and that Section 41 of the Specific Relief Act was not applicable to proceedings under Section 9 of the Act.

In this judgment, it has been observed that if the petitioner is aggrieved by the letter of termination of the contract and is advised to challenge the validity thereof, the petitioner can always’ invoke the arbitration ‘clause to claim damages, if any, suffered by the petitioner.

Rules

  • Section 9 in The Specific Relief Act, 1963
  • Section 14 in The Specific Relief Act, 1963
  • Section 41 in The Specific Relief Act, 1963
  • Section 9 in The Arbitration Act, 1940

Decision

It is made clear that the Court has not expressed any opinion on the merits of the disputes, which will be dealt with the Arbitration Tribunal as and when constituted & the narration is only for non-entitlement of reliefs sought for, in lieu of interim order. Therefore, petitions are accordingly dismissed, and in the interim order dated 06.09.2019 is hereby vacated.

Case Reviews, The Law

Alakh Alok Srivastava V. Union of India [2020]

CASE NOTE: Writ Petition in Supreme Court of India – Migrant workers’ troubles during Covid-19 lockdowns – Fake news of extension – Disaster Management Act, 2005 – Indian Penal Code, 1860 – Court entrusted Police and other Public authorities to comply with Government’s directives – Media to maintain a strong sense of responsibility – keep in check circulation of unverified news – anxiety, and fear of migrant workers to be kept in mind by Police and other Public Authorities.

By: Rajrishi Ramaswamy, Second Year B.B.A LLB, Symbiosis Law School, Hyderabad.

Bench

Sharad Arvind Bobde, CJI

L. Nageshwar Rao, J.

Counsels

Petitioners: Petitioners-in-person

Respondents: Mr. Tushar Mehta, SG, and Mr. B.V. Balram Das, AOR 

Background of case

On March 12, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the Coronavirus to be a pandemic. As a result, a nationwide lockdown was imposed in India to prevent the spread of the virus.

Subsequently, a (false) message was circulated on social media platforms including WhatsApp which claimed that the lockdown would be extended by another three weeks. As a result, migrant workers all across India attempted to return to their home towns or villages. Unable to avail the necessary facilities for the same, about thousands of workers decided to walk their way back home. As a result, some of the workers faced many difficulties and some of them even lost their lives.

The writ petition in the immediate case was filed by Advocates practising in the Supreme Court, bringing the Court’s notice to the woe of the migrant workers. The petitioners prayed that the Court issue directives to necessary authorities to alleviate the migrant workers’ concerns.

Issue

Migrant workers facing difficulties due to the circulation of fake messages on lockdowns imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Judgment of the Court

The Court’s Order began with an acknowledgement of the issues faced by the migrant workers in India post imposition of lockdown. The Court reviewed the status report submitted by Solicitor General of India, Mr. Tushar Mehtha, which contained details on:

  1. Various steps were taken by the Centre with regards to migrant workers’ wellbeing.
  2. Early response by the Government of India.
  3. Expert group constituted under Chairmanship of Vinod Paul, Member, NITI Aayog, and consisting of experts include medical field experts and public health experts. 
  4. Providing basic amenities including food, water, etc. being provided to lower-strata members of society.
  5. Schemes including a 1.70 Crore package under Pradhaan Mantri Graam Kalyaan Yojna.

The Court then commented upon the swift reaction of the State Governments and that it was satisfied by the measures taken by the Government of India in handling the Covid-19 pandemic. The Court observed that a circular the Ministry of Home Affairs issued on 29th March, 2020 has been implemented across the nation. It also considered the respondents’ claim that the mass migration of workers had subdued and that they had been sent to relief camps or shelter homes set at various points in States and Union Territories. The Court also observed that directions issued by the Central Government and State Governments to District Collectors/Magistrates were being complied with.

Coming to the issue at hand, the Court recalled a statement issued by Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, which read “We are not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic. Fake news spreads faster and more easily than this virus, and is just as dangerous”. The Court then enlisted provisions of two legislations, which penalize perpetrators spreading false information. These include:

  • Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, which reads “Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to the disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine”. 
  • Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 which reads as per which any person who disobeys an order promulgated by a public servant requiring him to do or abstain from doing something is punishable to imprisonment which may extend to one month or a fine which may extend to two hundred Rupees or both. If such disobedience causes danger to human life or leads to riots, then he will be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year, and a fine which may extend to a thousand Rupees or both.

The Court entrusted State Governments, Public Authorities, and Citizens to comply with directives issued by the Government of India. Speaking on Media’s role, it said

In particular, we expect the Media (print, electronic or social) to maintain a strong sense of responsibility and ensure that unverified news capable of causing panic is not disseminated.

A daily bulletin by the Government of India through all media avenues including social media and forums to clear the doubts of people would be made active within a period of 24 hours as submitted by the Solicitor General of India. We do not intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, but direct the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments.” 

The Court further instructed the Central Government to consider the mental health of citizens and calm down people who are in a state of panic. 

The Court finally held that “The anxiety and fear of the migrants should be understood by the Police and other authorities. As directed by the Union of India, they should deal with the migrants humanely. Considering the situation, we are of the opinion that the State Governments/Union Territories should endeavour to engage volunteers along with the police to supervise the welfare activities of the migrants. We expect those concerned to appreciate the trepidation of the poor men, women, and children and treat them with kindness”.

Legislations, The Law

The Coffee Act, 1942

This article provides a brief overview of the regulations on the coffee industry in India. The Coffee Act, 1942 provides for constitution of a board, regulation on sale, produce, registration, fixation of sale along with penalties for non-compliance with the provisions.

By: Meghna Rana

Board

  • As per section 4, the Indian Coffee Market Expansion Board is constituted mainly for the implementation of the act. 
  • Not more than 33 members– a chairman, three Members of Parliament, and remaining members maybe persons representing the coffee industry, interest of labor or consumer, etc.  
  • This board exists with perpetual succession and the common seal making it a separate entity gives the power to acquire and hold property as well as sue and be sued in its name.
  • The accounts of the board including the funds, their expenditure, etc. are liable for inspection under section 45. 

The high court of Karnataka1, held that this board comes within the ambit of Article 12 of the constitution, so a petition filed under section 226 in cases of exercising statutory powers.

Funds Maintained By The Board

There are two types of funds:

  • The General Fund includes all the fees collected by the board. It is used to be spent on certain costs and expenses under section 31(2).
  • Pool Fund includes the proceeds from the sale of coffee by the board from the surplus pool. After spending for specific purposes under section 32(2), the remaining amount is to be transferred to the general fund. 

Ex-gratia payments may also be made for the employees engaged in storing and marketing coffee out of the pool fund.2

Registration Of Owners Of Coffee Estates

  • As per section 14, all the owners of coffee plants have to register their estate within one month of becoming the owner. 
  • The registration continues to be force unless and until it is canceled by the registering officer. 
  • If the owner fails to register then the punishment of a fine up to ₹1000 besides ₹500 per month of non-registration may be imposed under section 35.

Sale Of Coffee

  • If uncured coffee is to be sold then as per section 24 a license has to be obtained from the board but the sale should be under the free sale quota3 fixed for the estate. 

The free sale quota as per section 22 is fifty percent of the probable total production of the estate in a year which may also be changed.

  • As per section 25, the product above the free sale quota has to be delivered to the board which is added to the surplus pool, but the exemption is given if the free sale quota isn’t fixed or the production quantity is small. 

If the owner does not deliver the surplus to the board, then it may be seized by an officer with a warrant under section 38-B. If cured4 coffee is being sold then the curing establishment5 has to obtain a license under section 28.

Endnotes:

  1. Ramesh Enterprises v Coffee Board 1984 SCC OnLine Kar 186
  2. Coffee Board Employees’ Association v A.C. Shiva Gowda & Ors. (1992) 1 SCC 500
  3. Section 3(h)-  Act 23 of 1994, w.e.f. 14-1-1994: “free sale quota means that portion, stated in terms of bulk or weight, of the whole of the coffee produced by the estate in the year, which a registered estate is permitted under this Act to sell.”
  4. Section 3(d) of Act 7 of 1942: “curing means the application to raw coffee of mechanical processes other than pulping for the purpose of preparing it for marketing.”
  5. Section 3(e) of Act 7 of 1942: “curing establishment means any place to which raw coffee is sent by a registered owner for curing, and includes any estate which the Board may declare to be a curing establishment for the purposes of this Act.”
Legislations, The Law

The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020

The Constitution allows the MPs to determine their salary and allowances by passing a law. Sometimes, this may lead to a conflict of interest. This Ordinance amends the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954.  

By: Pooja Mujumdar, ILS Law College, Pune.

INTRODUCTION

The salaries and allowances of Ministers Act, 1952 is an act that governs the salaries and allowances of the ministers of the government of India. A new ordinance i.e. The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 was issued recently pertaining to the situation of COVID-19.

OBJECT OF THE ORDINANCE

As the whole world is grappling with the Covid-19 virus, India too is facing some health as well as economic challenges. Thus, it became necessary for the government to take certain actions to manage and control such a situation by a raise in the available resources. Thus, this ordinance was introduced so as to reduce the salaries and allowances of the ministers and use that fund to fight the pandemic.

ANALYSIS

  • The Constitution allows the MPs to determine their salary and allowances by passing a law. Sometimes, this may lead to a conflict of interest. 
  • This Ordinance amends the Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954.  

The Act lays out the salary and various allowances that an MP is entitled to during their term in Parliament and also provides for the pension to former MPs.

  • Now, the two ordinances- i. The Salary, Allowances, and Pension of Members of Parliament Act, 1954 and ii. The Salaries and Allowances of Ministers Act, 1952 were amended to reduce the salaries of the MPs by 30% for one year to contribute more money towards the relief and resource of Covid-19.
  • The government also amended the rules notified under the 1954 Act to reduce certain allowances of MPs for one year. These also include office allowances. 
  • These changes are effective from 1st April 2020 and are made for one year.

CONCLUSION

The said promulgated ordinance which is to reduce the salaries of the MPs by 30% is said to have an impact. Due to the pandemic situation, utilizing maximum resources towards healthcare and relief has become the need of the hour.

Total amounts of Rs. 54 crores will be saved by cutting off the salaries and allowances which is less than 0.01% of the special economic package (Rs. 20 lakh crore) announced by the centre to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

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