Two years after a resident of SAS Nagar got Rs 88 lakh as compensation from the Punjab government for a piece of land acquired for the new terminal of Chandigarh International Airport, the Punjab and Haryana high court (HC) has ruled that the land for which he got compensated did not belong to him. Hence, he has to refund the compensation amount.
The direction came from the high court bench of justice Hemant Gupta and justice Raj Rahul Garg on a petition filed by a Jheurheri resident of SAS Nagar, who had challenged the Punjab government notification of July 2013, whereby the acquired land measuring 4 kanal 14 marlas was de-notified and he was asked to refund `88,12,500 paid for this acquisition for the construction of international civil aviation terminal.
The petitioner had argued that the land which the authorities were claiming that it was acquired in 1969 and was in possession of defence but it actually belonged to him. Hence, was de-notified wrongly. It was submitted that the compensation for the land acquisition was not disbursed to the petitioner by the government way back in 1968-69.
However, the high court was told by the government that land was acquired by invoking urgency provisions in 1968-69 but mutation of the land was not entered, therefore, inadvertently the notification was again issued in 2013 for the said piece of land.
The high court in its order observed that no land-owner would permit any government or non-government authority to possess his land, unless the same proceeded with legal sanction.
“The fact that no dispute was raised when the award was announced on February 13, 1969, shows that the land was acquired and compensation paid. Mere fact that on account of long lapse of time that is almost 45 years, the record in respect of payment could not be traced out, is not a ground on the basis of which the argument of the petitioner that compensation was not paid, can be accepted,” the high bench said.
It has further been recorded that for almost 45 years, the petitioner did not raise any dispute about the possession of land by defence without compensation. “Such a long silence speaks the volume of the conduct of the petitioner that in fact compensation was paid and long lapse of time has been made excuse to raise a plea of non-payment. The said argument lacks bona fide and cannot be believed,” the high court bench observed.