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Power of review is not inherent power: Madhya Pradesh High Court

After more than a year respondent issued a notice to the petitioners granting three days’ time to submit their reply with regard to review of the award. Petitioners in their reply claimed respondent no 2 to be functus officio and being so he has no jurisdiction to review specially after more than a year.

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has held that the power of review is not an inherent power, it must be conferred by law either specifically or by necessary implication. A review is always considered to be a creature of statute and the power of review cannot be entertained in the absence of a provision thereof.

The bench of Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Vijay Kumar Shukla was hearing a writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution. After going through all the facts presented and arguments of the counsels of both the parties, the bench observed that in the exercise of its powers under Article 226 it can entertain a writ petition, even if there is a provision of appeal provided under the statute.

The present case was regarding land acquisition. The petitioners have made an allegation on respondents that they have acquired industrial lands belonging to the petitioners an award was also made in favour of the petitioners granting compensation for the land @ Rs 2,700 per square meter based on market value.

After more than a year respondent issued a notice to the petitioners granting three days’ time to submit their reply with regard to review of the award. Petitioners in their reply claimed respondent no 2 to be functus officio and being so he has no jurisdiction to review specially after more than a year.

Respondent no. 2 reviewed the original award and passed the order that has been challenged in this petition by which he reduced the amount of compensation awarded to the petitioners by applying rate on the basis of measurement of lands acquired as per hectare basis, whereas initially the compensation was computed at per square meter.

The counsel on behalf of the petitioner has submitted before the Court that in absence of the statutory power of review, the respondent no.2 could not have reviewed the award. The correction which has been sought by the respondent no.2 would not fall within the ambit of correction of clerical error under Section 33 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (hereinafter referred to as ‘Act,2013).

Opposing the contentions of the petitioner the counsel for the respondents have submitted that without availing the alternative remedy available under Section 64 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation Act, 2013, the instant petition is liable to be dismissed. 

After hearing both the parties the Court has held that, “It is by now a well settled proposition of law that when a challenge to an order is primarily on the ground of jurisdiction and competence of the authority Writ Court can entertain a writ petition.”

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Accordingly, Court had set aside the order challenged on the ground that the impugned order was bad in law, illegal and without jurisdiction. And upheld the original award passed by the Acquisition Officer dated 07.03.2019.

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