If HC, in exercising its writ jurisdiction over a landowner, can HC issue general directions applicable to all enforcement cases? The Supreme Court must consider

The Supreme Court has recently agreed to consider whether the High Court, while exercising jurisdiction in writing under Section 226 of the Constitution of India over a landowner, can issue general directions applicable to all ongoing enforcement cases in the State of Haryana. Judges Dinesh Maheshwari and Vikram Nath agreed to consider the issues while considering…

The Supreme Court has recently agreed to consider whether the High Court, while exercising jurisdiction in writing under Section 226 of the Constitution of India over a landowner, can issue general directions applicable to all ongoing enforcement cases in the State of Haryana.

The bench of Judges Dinesh Maheshwari and Vikram Nath agreed to consider the matters while taking into account the order of the High Court of Punjab and Haryana dated 14 February 2022.

In the contested order, the High Court was considering a written motion filed by one of the landowners seeking the release of the amount of compensation for the respondents’ acquisition of his land.

The High Court set to adjudicate on the matter had found that Haryana State and Haryana Shahari Vikas Pradhikaran had developed a plan to deal with claims for release of compensation amount in different proceedings including enforcement cases . The so-called plan which was proposed to the High Court by the Chief Administrator, HSVP, included the proposed extended payment schedules, with proposed compliance dates extending to 15 August 2022, 15 October 2022 and December 31, 2022.

After learning of the plan to release the amount of compensation, the High Court barred all enforcement courts in Haryana State from taking enforcement action; and further ordered the Court of Reference to accept the amount of compensation in accordance with the plan proposed by the Respondents.

Aggrieved by the High Court order, the petitioner (M/S Shivanand Real Estate Pvt. Ltd.) had applied to the High Court. It was argued by the petitioner that while exercising jurisdiction in writing under Section 226 of the Constitution of India over a landowner, the High Court was not justified in issue general guidelines applicable to all enforcement cases pending in the state of Haryana. It was also argued that the petitioner was not a party to the said petition in brief and that the High Court was wrong to issue contested directions without giving the petitioner an opportunity to be heard.

The Claimant further submitted that with respect to his request for release of the amount of compensation, the Claimant preferred a separate written request. In the said writ, the High Court, having entered the declaration of the State that the matter was remitted to the Court u/s 30 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 and that the amount assessed would be deposited with of the Reference Court, had given the applicant the freedom to withdraw the plea.

In relation to the same, the petitioner argued before the Supreme Court that due to the respondent’s inaction, the petitioner brought contempt proceedings before the High Court in which notices were issued for the April 6, 2022.

Noting that the case required review, the High Court, while notifying the respondents, also stayed the High Court’s order dated February 14, 2022 as petitioner.

“Given the nature and object of the contested order of 14.02.2022, the matter must be examined. Issuance of an opinion to respondent n° 1 to 4, returnable within two weeks Service on Respondent No. 5 (respondent pro forma) In the meantime and until further notice, the execution and effect of the contested order of 14.02.2022 in CWP No. 20384 of 2021 remain in abeyance for the Petitioner; and the proceedings initiated by the Petitioner regarding the amount of compensation, including those of the contempt petition numbered 15 of 2022, will continue unaffected in any way by the directions issued in the contested order or any submissions made thereto, ” bench says in its order.

The Bench of Judges Dinesh Maheshwari and Vikram Nath also issued a notice in the SLP attacking the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which the High Court based on the plan had issued general instructions prohibiting all enforcement courts of Haryana to take enforcement action.

The claimant had argued that the High Court had issued such directions without regard to the difficulties faced by landowners whose land had been acquired and who were deprived of the amount of compensation awarded. It has also been argued that the High Court gave no reason to accept the proposed plan, which essentially consisted of delayed and staggered payment schedules.

“This matter also needs to be considered. Issue a Notice to the Respondents, which may be returned in two weeks. Pending and until further notice, the operation and effect of the contested Order of 02.14.2022 in CWP No. 20384 of 2021 will remain suspended as a claimant; and the claimant is free to initiate any proceedings necessary to recover the amount of compensation, to the extent permitted by law.” said the Supreme Court in its order.

Case title: M/S Shivanand Real Estate Pvt. ltd. vs. Haryana State & Ors.| Petition for Special (Civil) Leave Journal No. 6227/2022

Click here to read/download the order

Thelma J. Longworth