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India Govt Cannot Change Purpose Of Acquired Land: SC

Jan 1, 2010
Land acquired by the government or its instrumentalities for a specific public purpose cannot be changed and transferred to private individuals or corporate bodies, the Supreme Court has held. A bench of justices G S Singhvi and Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya said though government enjoys power of "eminent domain" to compulsorily acquire any land for public purpose, yet, it cannot legitimise any fraudulent act of the authorities. "The Courts have repeatedly held that in exercise of its power of eminent domain, the State can compulsorily acquire land of the private persons but this proposition cannot be over-stretched to legitimise a patently illegal and fraudulent exercise undertaken for depriving the landowners of their constitutional right to property with a view to favour private persons," justice Singhvi writing the judgement said.
The apex court passed the judgement while dismissing the appeal of certain corporate houses challenging the Karnataka high court's decision to quash the acquisition proceedings of over 37 acres of land in south Bangalore.
The Karnataka State Tourism Development Corporation had acquired the private land through the State Government for the ostensible purpose of a Golf-cum-Hotel Resort. However, instead of constructing the resort, it chose to transfer the land to a private real estate developer for a group housing project; and also other corporate houses.
Aggrieved by the decision, the private land owners approached the high court which quashed the acquisition proceedings and directed that the land be restored to the original owners. The land owners were also asked to return the compensation received by them at the time of acquisition.
The corporate houses appealed in the apex court.
Upholding the high court order, the apex court said the corporation had made a false projection to the State Government that land was needed for execution of tourism related projects.
The bench said the minutes of the corporation's meeting showed that it did not have the required funds for the project and instead wanted to transfer the land to a private builder, Dayananda Pai.
"The Managing Director of the Corporation candidly admitted that the Corporation did not have the requisite finances to pay for the acquisition of land and that Dayananda Pai, who had already entered into agreements with some of the landowners for purchase of land, was prepared to provide funds subject to certain conditions including transfer of 12 acres 34 guntas land to him for house building project.
Rajneesh Madhok
Oct 21, 2009
Every state has three organs i.e Legislature, Administration an judiciary.
There is a concept of separation of power and the basic concept is parliamentary supremacy. Judiciary is not supposed to peep into the legitimate'eminent domain' of parliament. If it enters into squabbles it would be interfering with the legislative functions. Yes, it can go into knitty-gritty of a case and take decision on issues but not the basic statute. Courts should not take blanket decisions nor it is supposed to comment on policy of parliament or its wisdom.Legislature knows what the people want. Courts have a very limited role if looked from this acute angle. Courts can test the vires of statute only when requested to do.
Land acquisition is primarily undertaken by the Government for its developmental work and for allotting the land to private Groups /companies.There is neither illegality nor malafide as malafide is never attruibutabe to legislature.

The recent hustle bustle and suo-motto cognition/approach of the Court is interference.Let us not forget that legislature can always amend the legislation so that the developmental work does not stop. Land is either acquired for Industrial use or for housing needs and both of these are priority sector. UP is already considering modification of the Acquisition laws.
If people sleep over for ten years and suddenly cry that injustice has been done..i do not think it would be the fault of either the Government or the private company.It would be a fit case of waiver of rights if long period elapses between acquisitions and complaints.
I hope I have clarified my stand or rather position on the issue.
With due regards.
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