In yet another setback to the Uttar Pradesh government, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday quashed a four-year-old notification for acquisition of 273 acres of land in Hapur, Ghaziabad, for setting up a leather industry.
The SC had recently quashed the state government’s acquisition of land in Noida and Greater Noida, affecting many big real estate developers and thousands of house owners who had invested in these projects.
On Tuesday, a bench of Justice GS Singhvi and Justice RM Lodha snubbed the state for acquiring the land under the urgency clause, denying landowners their right to raise objections against the proposal to acquire. The urgency clause of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, allows the government to dilute due process in case of an emergency.
“The court should take judicial notice of the fact that certain schemes or projects, such as construction of the leather city project for public purpose, which contemplate the development of residential, commercial, industrial or institutional areas, by their intrinsic nature and character, require the investment of time of a few years in their planning, execution and implementation. Therefore, the land acquisition for said public purpose does not justify the invoking of urgency provisions,” the bench observed.
It added: “The respondents (government authorities) are not justified in invoking the urgency provisions of the act, thereby, depriving the appellants (owners) of their valuable right to raise objections and opportunity of hearing before the authorities in order to persuade them that their property may not be acquired.”
The acquisition was also declared illegal, as the National Capital Region and Planning Board (NCRPB) had declined to approve the project.
According to the landowners’ counsel, senior advocate Pinky Anand, the board’s approval was mandatory under the NCRPB Act, 1985.
The apex court passed its order on petitions filed by villagers and farmers challenging the government’s decision to acquire their land.
The two court notifications were issued in July 2006 and December 2007.
The acquired land is in Imtori, Chitoli and Sabli villages of Hapur.