SC split on land acquisition issues

The Land Acquisition Act is about 120 years old, and the proposed new one is mired in controversy, but it seems there are issues of interpretation yet to be settled by the Supreme Court. Last week, a two- judge bench delivered a split verdict on the question of interest on solatium in the case of land acquisitions, and the question has been referred to a larger bench. This means that the final word of the court on this two- decade old case will not come for years, going by the enormous backlog. In this case, Periyar and Pareekanni Rubbers Ltd vs state of Kerala, the company was aggrieved by the denial of interest payable on the component of solatium. It argued that the denial and its approval by Kerala High Court were illegal. One judge asked the government to pay interest but the other judge expressed his “ respectful disagreement” with that order, leading to the request to the Chief Justice to set up a larger bench. Meanwhile, the CJ’s court is currently struggling with hundreds of land acquisition cases which have been divided into different sets according to their origin.

Business Standard, New Delhi, 21st Sept. 2015

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