In spite of there being a policy in place, under which residential houses or constructed properties are required to be released or exempted from land acquisition process, the Haryana government has been repeatedly flouting it with impunity, forcing poor farmers to seek legal recourse.
In one such case of more than 3,600 acres of land acquisition in 2011 in Rewari district, the Punjab and Haryana high court has come down heavily on the state government for causing “serious derailment of the public purpose of (land) acquisition”. The agricultural land was acquired for “public purpose” of development of multi-modal logistic hub, industrial infrastructure with other allied public utilities in Rewari.
Deciding a bunch of 18 petitions filed by farmers of Rewari, challenging state government’s decision, the division bench headed by justice Surya Kant has granted four months to the government to hold a fresh survey, if required, to identify petitioners’ constructed properties to release it from acquisition. The high court has ordered that till the process is over, both parties — state government and farmers — would maintain status quo on the land.
The court has issued directions to the state authorities concerned to issue notices to the aggrieved farmers while undertaking the process to facilitate the identity of their constructed properties and, thereafter, decide why such properties or residential houses be not released from acquisition by passing a speaking order.
Pulling up the state for having laid down the policy of releasing land from acquisition on which construction had been raised and not following it, the court said: “Once the state has chosen to take a policy decision, it is imperative upon its authorities to give effect to such policy decision in its true letter and spirit.”
This is not the first case where farmers have knocked the high court doors challenging acquisition of their land having constructed properties.
In this case, the Haryana government had issued a notification under section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, on July 14, 2011, and notification under section 6 on July 11, 2012, acquisition of more than 3,600 acres of land.
A large number of small-scale farmers from villages Bawal, Banipur, Aashalwas, Bagthala, Pathuhera, Ibrahimpur, Mangleshwar, Kheramurar, Bawal, Bhodhai, Kasoli, Bakhapur, Garhi Bolni, Lodhana, Pithanwas and Kasola had approached the high court, raising their grievance that their land was acquired illegally by not affording them an effective opportunity of hearing under section 5-A of the Act.
The petitioners had submitted that their objections were summarily rejected contrary to the law laid down by the Supreme Court in a case titled ‘Raghbir Singh Sehrawat versus State of Haryana and others’ in 2012.
The Haryana government had come out with not one but two policies that say that land on which residential houses or constructed properties are there, are required to be released or exempted from acquisition. The first policy was framed on October 26, 2007, while the second on January 24, 2011.