The Supreme Court has ruled that government cannot acquire lands of the people by invoking the "urgency clause" as a matter of rule for developing housing colonies and the power can be exercised only in exceptional cases.
"Use of the power by the government under Section 17 for planned development of the city or the development of residential area or for housing must not be as a rule but by way of an exception.
"Such exceptional situation may be for public purpose viz., rehabilitation of natural calamity-affected persons, rehabilitation of persons uprooted due to commissioning of dam or housing for lower strata of society urgently, rehabilitation of persons affected by time-bound projects, etc," a Bench of Jutices R V Raveendra and R M Lodha said in a judgement.
The apex court passed the judgement while dealing with a bunch of appeals filed by aggrieved land owners challenging the acquisition of over 400 private lands by Gorakhpur Land Development Authority, Uttar Pradesh, for constructing a housing colony.
Under the Land Acquistion Act, the government can acquire any land but section 5A mandates the authority to give due opportunity to the owners to raise objections.
Section 17, however, gives the government the need to dispense with Section 5A if the land was required for some very urgent reasons.