Manesar land case: Multiple legal opinions interpreting SC directions add to complications

Apex court had last month asked the Haryana government to furnish names of officials who passed orders for excluding land parcels in Gurugram’s Manesar
Updated on Nov 14, 2020 01:13 AM IST
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ByHitender Rao, Chandigarh

Multiple pieces of legal opinions tendered by the Haryana advocate general’s office with regards to the interpretation of the “deemed award” ordered by the Supreme Court in the Manesar land case seems to have complicated the matter. The case will be heard by the top court on November 17.

The apex court had last month asked the Haryana government to furnish names of officials who passed orders for excluding land parcels from the apex court-ordered “deemed award” in Gurugram’s Manesar.

These land parcels were apparently excluded on account of execution of collaboration agreements between landowners and developers after August 27, 2004, the day a Section 4 notification of the Land Acquisition Act was issued to acquire the land. The SC has also sought to know the present status of development at the site with pictures.

Haryana seeking clarification

The SC is hearing a prayer seeking clarification whether its 2018 judgment would also cover land parcels purchased prior to the date of Section 4 notification on August 27, 2004, but transferred by the landholders between August 27, 2004 and January 29, 2010 by way of collaboration agreements in favour of other parties and whether they will form part of the “deemed award”.

The opinions

The first legal opinion on May 2018 said that out of 912 acres, land parcels transferred by the landowners between August 27, 2004 and January 29, 2010 would come under the “deemed award”. Based on this opinion, the state government in November 2018 passed “deemed award” for about 420 acres.

The state government, however, belatedly realised that there were certain land parcels where landowners collaborated with builders to get licences. Also, there were land parcels which had been released by a ministers’ committee after Section 6 notification.

Thus, a second opinion was sought. The legal opinion of December 2018 said the land which was included in Section 6 declaration would fall within the award deemed to have been passed on August 26, 2007.

A third opinion of March 2019 reiterated the December 2018 opinion.

A fourth opinion was sought after the Gurugram land acquisition collector demanded clarification with respect to passing of award for the balance land.

The legal opinion tendered by the advocate general’s office in July 2020 said that passing the award for balance land which has not been transferred by landholders during August 27, 2004 to January 29, 2010 would be violative of the apex court judgment. The award is to be announced for land where collaboration agreements were entered between August 27, 2004 and January 29, 2010. The “deemed award” is to be announced qua the land which was released after Section 6 notification on the recommendation of ministers’ committee. However, it is to be considered that if any land holding which was released but not transferred between August 27, 2004 and January 29, 2010 is to be excluded from the “deemed award” and the rest is to be included, the AG’s opinion said.

‘Our land outside the scope of SC order’

The SC had last month restrained three real estate developers who claimed that their land was outside the scope of apex court’s orders and landowners from creating fresh third-party rights on 268 acres which was once sought to be acquired for creating an industrial township in Manesar in Gurugram, but was dropped from the acquisition by the Congress regime in 2007. The 268 acres were a part of the 688 acres being acquired for public purpose and dropped during the Congress rule.

Box: What has happened so far

A CBI investigation was ordered in 2015 and the decision to drop acquisition proceedings of 688 acres in Manesar and around was set aside by the Supreme Court in 2018.

Award for this land deemed to have been passed on August 26, 2007.

The apex court had ruled that 688 acres will vest in the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation and all licences granted in respect of lands covered by the “deemed award” of August 26, 2007 will stand transferred to HSIIDC.

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