Deemed vesting of surplus land under Urban Land Ceiling Act would not amount to taking de facto possession of land by govt: SC

In an important ruling that will clear many cases pending under Urban Land Ceiling Act (“Act”), the Supreme Court of India has clarified that the deemed vesting of surplus land under Section 10(3) of the Act would not amount to taking de facto possession of land by the government, thus depriving the land holders of the benefit under Section 3 of the Urban Land (Ceiling and Regulation) Repeal Act, 1999 (“Repeal Act”).
After a carefull review of Section 10 of the Act, the Court said “What is deemed ‘vesting absolutely’ is that ‘what is deemed to have acquired’. In our view, there must be express words of utmost clarity to persuade a court to hold that the legislature intended to divest possession also, since the owners or holders of the vacant land is pitted against a statutory hypothesis.”  “The ‘vesting’ in sub-section (3) of Section 10, in our view, means vesting of title absolutely and not possession though nothing stands in the way of a person voluntarily surrendering or delivering possession.
The Court said, in this case, that State of UP failed to show that it was in the possession of the land (de facto) before the Repeal Act was brought in force.

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