Supreme Court Supports Historical Land Acquisitions by DDA, DSIIDC, and DMRC in Delhi

In a significant judgment favoring the progression of urban development in Delhi, the Supreme Court has affirmed the acquisition of extensive land parcels by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC), and Delhi Metro Corporation (DMRC). These lands, acquired between 1957 and 2006, are pivotal for upcoming residential, infrastructure, and Metro projects in the capital.

On May 17, a bench comprising Justices Surya Kant, Dipankar Datta, and Ujjal Bhuyan overturned a previous decision by the Delhi High Court that had deemed these acquisitions as lapsed under the Land Acquisition Act, 2013. Instead, the Supreme Court validated the acquisitions under the older Land Acquisition Act, 1894, asserting that the authorities should proceed to take possession of the land where compensation had been deposited, either in the treasury or in reference courts, and continue with the public infrastructure projects.

Justice Surya Kant, who authored the 113-page decision, clarified that this ruling does not prevent landowners from claiming compensation, including interest and other statutory benefits, under the 1894 Act if it has not already been paid. The Supreme Court also instructed the High Court to establish a dedicated bench to swiftly resolve disputes where landowners might have withheld facts concerning the lands in question.

For lands where possession was not taken or compensation was not given, the Supreme Court has allowed for new acquisition proceedings to be initiated within a year, up to July 31, 2025, with compensation to be awarded at current market rates. This measure aims to balance the rights of landowners with the public interest in essential infrastructure and residential projects.

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The court noted that many landowners continued agricultural activities on the acquired lands, thus negating the need for a social impact assessment or the development of alternative agricultural lands prior to acquisition.

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