The Land Acquisition By Hooda Government Is Illegal: SC

DH file

DH file

In August 2004, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government had notified that it would acquire 912 acres in the villages of Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhnoula to build an industrial township.

Three years later, when the land had been taken over by builders, the Hooda government suddenly dropped acquisition proceedings to allow realtors to become owners of vast tracts of land to execute profitable housing and other projects.

Just two days before the pronouncement of award for the land acquired by the government on August 26, 2007, an order was passed on August 24, 2007 dropping the acquisition. Farmers then sold the plots to private builders at throwaway prices. "In our considered view, those decisions were clear case of fraud on power and as such are annulled", the SC said in its ruling on Manesar land release case.

"The record indicates that various entities including certain "middlemen" cornered unnatural gains and walked away with huge profits taking the entire process of acquisition for a ride", the bench of justices AK Goel and UU Lalit observed.

The top court said the "inescapable conclusion" was that there was an "unholy nexus" between the government machinery and the builders and private entities in devising a modality to deprive the "innocent and gullible landholders" of their land holdings and jeopardise the public interest, which the acquisition was meant to achieve. "Substantial sums have exchanged hands in the form of settlement money", Justice Lalit, who penned down a 97-page verdict for the bench, said.

"The transactions so entered into between the landholders and the concerned builders/ private entities could not be said to be voluntary and free from any influence. The motive was to confer undue advantage on the builders/private entities".

The state may revisit its policy of change of land use and giving colonisation licences in respect of land which was the subject of acquisition, the court said.

He said the SC order has re-enforced the faith of the common man in the judicial system of the country since it has directed the "authorities of the state as well as Central government to reach the depths of such transactions and recover every single pie and make it over to the state government".

"It was a mala fide exercise of power".

"The exercise of power under the Act was guided by considerations extraneous to the provisions of the Act and as a matter of fact, was created to enrich the builders/private entities".