Even as the Centre proposes a pro-farmer land acquisition bill, it has opposed increasing compensation given to Ghaziabad farmers from Rs 8 to Rs 84 per square yard for 1,200 acres land acquired way back in 1963.
The Centre chose to challenge before the Supreme Court a nine-year-old Allahabad high court verdict directing the payment of enhanced compensation to the landowners.
The Centre's stand left the apex court fuming. "You (government) don't even get a piece of cloth at this rate, but, you are getting land," said a bench headed by justice JM Panchal.
Incidentally, the hearing took place on July 29 when the government released its draft Land Acquisition and Resettlement & Rehabilitation Bill 2011 proposing hefty compensation for landowners.The court was annoyed with the government's move to drag on a more than four decade old case in which the farmers are yet to get compensation at revised rates. "Have you ever thought about how those farmers would live. They are still waiting for the compensation, whereas you have taken their land," the bench added. The farmers have so far got compensation amount at the rate of Rs 8.
What angered the court was the Centre's choice to revive the issue, even as the SC had settled it six years ago while dismissing the Uttar Pradesh government's appeal challenging the 2002 high court verdict.
The UP government had in 1963 issued notification to acquire land to construct a CPWD office. The land was physically acquired in 1973. But the state had announced its compensation in September 1986.
On a petition filed by 150 farmers, the HC had increased the compensation amount from Rs 8 to Rs 84. Dissatisfied with the verdict, the UP government had appealed before the apex court that dismissed the petition in July 2004. State's review petition was also rejected in February 2005.
The Centre now challenged the HC order on the ground the subordinate court had not heard its views on the issue. The appeal claimed the Centre was aggrieved with the high court order, as it had to pay the revised compensation amount.
Accepting the contention raised by the farmers' counsel, Abhishek Garg, the bench refused to interfere with the HC judgment. Garg said the land rates had multiplied several times and yet the Centre was hesitant in paying Rs 84 for a square yard. The counsel further told the court that the compensation amount fixed was less than the market rates prevalent at that time.