The Bombay high court (HC) last week upheld the Slum Rehabilitation Authority’s (SRA) powers to acquire encroached private lands for rehabilitation of hutment dwellers settled on such lands.
A division bench of chief justice Mohit Shah and justice Anoop Mohta dismissed petitions challenging the constitutional validity of two provisions of Maharashtra Slums Act, 1971 — section14, which empowers SRA to acquire private encroached lands to rehabilitate slumdwellers and section 17, which prescribes compensation to be paid to landowners.
Six individuals and a housing society had moved HC after receiving final notifications for acquisition of their land. They contended that acquisition of slum land cannot be made under provisions of sections 14 and 17 because these provisions are applicable only to lands adjoining or surrounding slums, and not lands covered by slums. The bench rejected this contention stating that section 14 has to be read as empowering the state government to acquire land within, adjoining or surrounding a slum area.
Petitioners also challenged section 17’s validity arguing that the compensation fixed therein was very little. “Value of property has gone up a lot over the years that the quantum fixed in the section renders the compensation illusory,” their counsel Virendra Tulzapurkar argued.
The bench rejected this challenge saying that scope of judicial review in such cases is limited to finding out whether the valuation is relevant to the principles for determination of the value of the land.