The Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled that developers cannot claim release of their licensed land as a matter of right for “money-minting business ventures” if land is acquired by the Haryana government for “indispensable public purpose”.
The ruling came while setting aside a petition moved by Ansal Properties and Infrastructure developers, seeking release of its licensed land in Akbarpur Barota in Sonepat district acquired by the state government for constructing a common effluent treatment plant. Ansal had got the licence to develop 245 kanal and 4 marla as a residential-cum-commercial area from the town and country planning department in September 2006.
A division bench, comprising justice Surya Kant and Surinder Gupta, said the state government policy of September 14, 2006, relied upon by the developer merely provides that the government will “consider” release of land for which the licence/change of land use (CLU) had been granted. The policy cannot be construed to say that licensed land in all circumstances must be released or that it vests the landowner in seeking release of his land as a matter of right, the court clarified.
Addressing Ansal’s submission that its land was acquired in spite of the district town planner’s (DTP) comments that it could not be acquired since the licence was granted to the builder, the court said, it did not advance builder’s case as the DTP had written the letter “apparently under the influence of the petitioner (Ansal)”.
“Such like public purpose must have precedence and priority over money-minting business ventures,” the court opined.
The builder had challenged notifications issued by the state government under Section 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, on February 29, 2012 and November 16, 2012, respectively. The court said that of more than 188 kanal acquired for the common effluent treatment plant, Ansal’s land was just 11 kanal and 16 marla.
Addressing one of the arguments raised by the developer, the court said Ansal builders’ obligation under the licence to provide sewage-treatment plant or other basic amenities does not absolve the state government authorities from its duty to construct common effluent treatment plant. The court observed that there was a vast spread of industrial area that required facilities, more so when the state government had granted licences for the development of residential sectors in the surroundings.
The court directed that the authorities concerned should be responsible for the proper upkeep and maintenance of forthcoming effluent treatment plant to ensure that no inconvenience or hardship is caused to residents in nearby areas.
Finding no merit in the petition, the court dismissed it.