In a major blow to the Ghaziabad development authority (GDA), the Allahabad high court recently set aside the authority’s decision to allot the land resumed (transferred) from Ghaziabad municipal corporation to two Noida-based private developers.
The process of resumption involves transfer of government land from one department to another. However, under the law, the ownership remains with the state government.
The court came down heavily on the authority after Ghaziabad councillor Rajendra Tyagi filed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the authority’s decision to allot the public land to private developers at Noor Nagar, called Raj Nagar Extension by private developers.
The petitioner contended that the authority had no absolute title of the resumed land in question and it was not open for the GDA to proceed to allot the land to one or more private developers. He added that any such modality would amount to fraud. Tyagi had also contested the basis on which the authority fixed up the reserve price for the land.
“It is inconceivable how a public authority, which was embarking upon a proposal to enhance its resources to meet its committed expenditure towards infrastructure, amenities and public utilities, decided to alienate valuable land by fixing a reserved price on the basis of the cost of acquisition and development,” the bench of chief justice DY Chandrachud and justice Yashwant Varma said in their order.
The court termed the fixing of the reserve price as “bereft of reason and logic” and said that the action of the authority cannot be sustained.
The GDA had contended that regardless of whether the land had acquired or resumed status under the notification, it becomes the owner since it paid for the land.
However, the court held the authority’s contention as contrary to the settled legal position. It said that the entrustment of land to GDA (under sub section 6 of section 117 of the UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act, 1950) is for controlling and managing the land. The land does not fall under the title or ownership of GDA, it added.
“The title is vested with the state under Section 4 of the Act. The land continues to be in the ownership and title of the state government,” the court said.