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Original plaintiff shall be entitled to recover the entire amount of compensation under the LAA: SC

Section 21 enables award of compensation in lieu and substitution of the specific performance. So far as the plaintiff shall be entitled to the amount of compensation as awarded under the Land Acquisition Act together with interest and solatium by way of compensation. (Para 7)

SUKHBIR V. AJIT SINGH

Civil Appeal No. 1653 of 2021

30th April 2021


The Divisional Bench of Supreme Court consisting of Justice Dr. Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah partly allowed the appeal and confirmed the judgment and order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana.


An agreement to sell was executed by the appellant in favor of the respondent on 09.03.2010 with respect to land for a total sale consideration on Rs. 32 lakhs (out of which the amount of 31,50,000/- has been already paid by the respondent to the appellant). As per agreement the sale deed was to be executed on 08.07.2010. Upon failure of the appellant to execute the sale deed, the respondent served a legal notice dated 08.07.2010 requesting the appellant to remain present at Sub-Registrar’s office on 06.08.2010 to execute the sale deed but on 04.08.2010 appellant refused to do so. Thereafter the respondent instituted a Civil Suit on 05.08.2010 numbered RBT-34/2010 in the Court of learned Civil Judge, Senior Division, Jhajjar, Haryana for specific performance of the agreement to sell and to handover the possession of the land. By, way of an alternative prayer, it was prayed for the recovery of Rs. 31,50,000/- with interest @ 24% per annum from 09.03.2010 till date of payment.


Meanwhile on 06.07.2012 acquiring body issued a notification under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act and acquired the land in question. On 19.12.2012 the learned trial Court passed a decree for specific performance.


Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and decree passed by the learned trial Court, affirmed by the first appellate court, the appellant preferred second appeal before the High Court being R.S.A. No. 4848/2016. On which the Hon’ble High Court considered Section 21 of the Specific Relief Act and held that the respondent is entitled to take all the benefits of compensation along with interest and solatium, less the cost of litigation incurred by the original land-owner (appellant) for recovery of the amount of compensation.


Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court, the original defendant (appellant) has preferred the present appeal.

Shri Sushil Sardana, learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the defendant(appellant) has vehemently submitted that (i) during the pendency of the suit the land in question came to be acquired under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, the defendant (appellant) had no saleable right and interest in the suit property and therefore no relief for specific performance of the agreement to sell could have been passed (ii) that in view of Section 21 of the Specific Relief Act r/w Section 73 of the Indian Contract Act, the plaintiff (respondent) at the most shall be entitled to the refund of the amount of sale consideration paid with interest (iii) in the present case the plaintiff (respondent) never claimed for any compensation. As per Section 21(1) of the Specific Relief Act if the contract is broken by the defendant(appellant), in that event, compensation may be granted, but again Section 21(5) says that no compensation shall be awarded under Section 21 unless the plaintiff(respondent) has claimed such compensation in his plaint(iv) the plaintiff (respondent) shall be entitled to recover the amount of Rs. 31,50,000/- along with interest only(v) the High Court has fallen in error in holding and directing that the plaintiff (respondent) shall be entitled to the entire amount of compensation awarded under the Land Acquisition Act along with solatium and interest.


While opposing the present appeal, Shri Rakesh Talukdar, learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the plaintiff has heavily relied upon the decisions of this Court in the cases of Jagdish Singh (supra) and Urmila Devi v. Deity, Mandir Shree Chamunda Devi, (2018) 2 SCC 284. It is submitted that in both the cases this Court had an occasion to consider the very submission made on Section 21 of the Specific Relief Act and it is held by this Court that the original plaintiff (respondent) shall be entitled to the amount of compensation awarded under the Land Acquisition Act less the amount of expenses incurred by the defendant (appellant) – original land-owner for receiving the compensation. It is submitted that in the present case, as such, there is nothing on record that any amount was incurred by the defendant for receiving the amount of compensation under the Land Acquisition Act.


After hearing contentions of both the parties and relying upon the decisions of this court in the cases of Jagdish Singh (supra) and Urmila Devi (supra) and considering Section 21 of the Specific Relief Act, held that:


In view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present appeal is disposed of by modifying the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court to the extent directing and holding that the plaintiff – respondent herein shall be entitled to recover the entire amount of compensation along with solatium and interest awarded under the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, which is reported to be lying/deposited with the acquiring body with respect to the land in question minus Rs. 3,00,000/- (Rs. 2,50,000/- towards the expenses which might have been incurred in pursuing the claims of compensation and the expenditure incurred by him in the litigation culminating in the award + Rs. 50,000/- towards balance sale consideration). Therefore, the appellant – defendant shall be entitled to Rs. 3,00,000/- from the amount of compensation deposited with the acquiring body and the balance amount of compensation together with interest and solatium to be paid to the original plaintiff. (Para 12)


Subsequently, the appeal is partly allowed to the aforesaid extent only.


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Swadheen Singh

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