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Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, October 11, 2012
In a setback to the Chandigarh administration, the Supreme Court on Thursday quashed its three notifications acquiring 104.83-acre land meant for the phase-III of Rajiv Gandhi Information Technology Park, holding the acquisition was not for a bonafide public purpose. “…in the garb of acquiring land for the IT Park, the administration wanted to favour private developers,” said the bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice SJ Mukopadhaya while pulling up the Punjab and Haryana High Court for upholding the acquisition. The court said the HC’s verdict had resulted in miscarriage of justice. The court’s order came on a bunch of appeals filed by land owners alleging malpractice by the administration in grabbing their land under the garb of developing the IT park. The petitioners had challenged the March 18, 2011 HC verdict upholding the acquisition.

Concluding that the HC had not examined the substantive grounds on which the land-owners had challenged the acquisition “with the required seriousness,” the SC said the hearing given to a person deprived of his right must be effective.

The bench noted the cases highlighted before it illustrated flagrant violation of the mandate under the land acquisition act and that the administration had failed to apply its mind.

The court added in acquisition proceedings, government must “apply its mind to the report of the collector and the objections filed by the landowners and then take a decision...” “A mechanical endorsement of the report of the Collector cannot be a substitute for the requirement  of  application  of  mind  by  the  Government  which  must  be  clearly reflected in the record,” it said.