The Haryana town and country planning (TCP) department has drawn harsh criticism from the Punjab and Haryana high court for granting licences to builders for “extraneous considerations” without any follow-up action regarding utilisation of land for the licensed purposes.
The court has observed that reputation of the department, as can be gauged from a series of judicial pronouncements, is “susceptible of other than the bona fide considerations”.
The scathing remarks came from a division bench, comprising justice Surya Kant and justice Surinder Gupta, on a petition filed by developer Crown Buildestate.
Aggrieved with the state government’s notifications issued on August 6, 2012, and August 5, 2013, under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, respectively, the builder had approached the high court. The developer had submitted that its land of around 10 acres situated within the revenue estate of Nizampur village near Panipat and situated on the national highway-1 was acquired by the state. It was submitted that the state tourism department was proposing to come up with a tourist complex on the acquired land.
Firm fails to develop land after 3 years of licence
The court was informed that the developer had purchased land in January 2007 and obtained change of land use (CLU) from the TCP department to develop it as a commercial-cum-shopping area. After getting the licence in April 2010, the developer deposited statutory charges, as per a government policy.
But since the tourism department had proposed to acquire petitioner’s land for the construction of a tourist complex, the developer had raised objections under Section 5-A of the relevant Act, claiming that since CLU was granted to it, its land deserved to be released from acquisition as per the modified policy of the state government finalised on January 24, 2011.
The land acquisition collector, however, was of the view that the developer took no effective steps to develop land as per the licence granted in April 2010 and, since the entire land was lying un-utilised, it should be acquired for the public purpose. The land acquisition collector also rejected the builder’s objections.
After hearing all parties, the court observed that three government agencies were involved in the case. The town and country planning department, for apparently extraneous considerations, grants licences without any follow-up action, while the tourism department want to utilise land for construction of a tourist complex. The third wing was the land acquisition collector.
Court directs chief secretary to decide in 2 months
The court said that when there was a conflict of interest among three departments of the Haryana government, it would rely upon the chief secretary to convene a meeting of all stakeholders, including representative of the developer, and take a holistic view as to whether or not land be acquired for the notified public purpose. The chief secretary has been directed to take an appropriate decision on the matter within two months.