The social justice bench of the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed an application filed by MP government seeking ‘modification/clarification’ in two previous judgments (in 2000 and 2005) of the apex court related to separate land rights for adult sons of Sardar Sarovar project-affected persons.
The social justice bench comprising justices Madan Lokur and Umesh Lalit held that the application of state government (filed via the Narmada Valley Development Authority) suffered from “gross delay” as it was filed many years after the judgments.
“The rights/entitlements already accrued to the oustees in principle cannot be taken away,” the court said.
The court also took notice that though separate entitlement of land to all adult sons of affected persons was recognised years ago, one set of oustees had been offered land/special rehabilitation package of Rs 5.5 lakh for five acre land while another set was denied the same. This would result in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution that guarantees right to equality, the court said.
It added that “this is not good governance” and dismissed the application, a release by Narmada Bachao Andolan, the petitioner in the case, said.
“The effect of today’s order is that all the adult sons of Sardar Sarovar oustees would be entitled to five acres of cultivable land separately,” NBA leader Medha Patkar, who is a petitioner-in-person in all SSP-related matters, said.
Counsel for oustees Sanjay Parikh argued in the court that the application was based on misinterpretation of the 2011 judgment of the Supreme Court in the Omkareshwar Dam case, which is not applicable to Sardar Sarovar oustees.
He said as per the Narmada Tribunal Award and the 2000 and 2005 judgments of the SC, all adult sons are indisputably entitled to five acres of cultivable and irrigable land.
NBA and all SSP oustees welcomed the order, saying it was a vindication of the rights and struggle of thousands of tribals and other farmers who have been waiting for land-based rehabilitation for years.