Can a 3-judge bench overturn another 3-judge bench’s decision? No decision on S. 24 of 2013 Land Acquisition Law till SC decides

Supreme Court: In interesting turn of events, the 3-judge bench of Madan B. Lokur, Kurian Joseph and Deepak Gupta, JJ disagreed with the decision rendered by another 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, AK Goel and MM Shantanagoudar, JJ in Indore Development Authority v. Shailendra, 2018 SCC Online SC 100, which had on 08.02.2018, overturned the decision of another 3-judge bench of RM Lodha, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, JJ in Pune Municipal Corporation v. Harakchand Misirimal Solanki, (2014) 3 SCC 183, in the issue relating to land acquisition.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi submitted before the Court that when a Bench of 3 learned Judges does not agree with the decision rendered by another Bench of 3 learned Judges, the appropriate course of action would be to refer the matter to a larger Bench. He also submitted that a Bench of 3 learned Judges cannot hold another decision rendered by a Bench of 3 learned Judges as per incuriam.

Noticing that some matters have already been decided on the basis of the Indore Development Authority decision and that similar matter were listed before the Supreme Court and various High Courts, the bench requested the concerned Benches dealing with similar matters to defer the hearing until a decision is rendered one way or the other on the issue whether the matter should be referred to larger Bench or not.

Making it clear that the hearing is not concluded on the issue whether the matter should at all be referred to a larger Bench or not, the bench directed:

“it would be appropriate if in the interim and pending a final decision on making a reference (if at all) to a larger Bench, the High Courts be requested not to deal with any cases relating to the interpretation of or concerning Section 24 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.”

The matter will now be heard on March 7, 2018. [State of Haryana v. G.D. Goenka Tourism Corporation Limited, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 145, order dated 21.02.2018]

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