The Supreme Court (SC) said that the Ghaziabad development authority (GDA) is under no obligation to return the 281 acres it acquired under a 2004 notification for the Madhuban Bapudham housing scheme.
On November 30, the SC disposed of a petition filed by 76 farmers with directions that the farmers who moved the court are entitled to fair compensation under the provisions of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act – 2013.
The housing scheme is spread over more than 1,250 acres in several villages between NH-24 and NH-58. The land was acquired to develop 20,000 housing units.
Several farmers had challenged the land acquisition by invoking the urgency clause and moved the Allahabad high court in 2008. However, failing to get relief, the farmers moved the SC in 2011.
The urgency clause gives an opportunity to land owners to put forward their objections during award of compensation.
“The order means that the compensation will be as per the rates on the day of the court order. The land falls under urban area and the compensation will be nearly double the current circle rate on the day of the order,” Gyanendra Verma, additional secretary, GDA, said.
Other farmers had accepted the compensation — around ₹1,100 per sq m.
“As per the order, farmers who have already taken the compensation will not be entitled to the compensation as per new rates. The total compensation cost, estimated around ₹900-₹1,000 crore, will be enhanced,” he said.
The housing scheme is being developed over land that falls in Sadarpur, Mainapur, Naglapath, Yaqoobpur and Morta. Farmers had also denied giving possession of their land and the work on the housing project was hampered.
“From the discussions that have preceded the conclusion is obvious. The invocation of the urgency clause is invalid and the notification under section 6 issued without holding the enquiry/hearing of objections under section 5A of the Act would not be justified and the acquisition proceedings as a whole would be open for interference (sic),” the court order stated.
Since the court invalidated the urgency clause, farmers said they will hold discussions with the authority and raise objections with regard to the abadi land (land under habitation).
“We will raise the issue with authority not to remove our settlement areas. They may allow us to relocate as per the plan of the housing scheme,” Sudesh Pal Singh, a farmer from Sadarpur, said.
The court clarified that the compensation for constructions that may have come up on the acquired land, prior to the date of original notifications (October 16, 2004 and November 11, 2004), will also be considered.
The court also stated, “Even though the impugned acquisition has been found to be legally fragile, requiring the acquiring authority to return the land to the landowners, at this stage, would have the effect of jeopardising the housing and other projects which either have been completed or have reached completion.”