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SC notice to Centre, 4 states on SEZ issue

SC issues notices to the Centre and four states on a petition challenging setting up of SEZ in the NCR, reports Satya Prakash.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2006 20:20 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to the Centre, states of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana, Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation and Reliance Ventures Ltd on a petition challenging setting up of Special Economic Zones in the National Capital Region.

The PIL filed by Congress MP from Bhiwani, Kuldeep Bishnoi through Counsel Nidhesh Gupta challenged the Special Economic Zone Act, 2005 and the Haryana Special Economic Zone Act, 2005. He has sought quashing of the transfer of about 25,000-acre Haryana land to Reliance Ventures Ltd of Mukesh Ambani.

Senior counsel Rohington Nariman contended on behalf of the petitioner that the Haryana SEZ Act was in violation of the National Capital Region Planning Board Act, 1985 and questioned the proposed addition of land to the existing SEZ at Garhi Harsaru.

He submitted that the NCR Act was enacted after the States of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana surrendered their right to determine the land use to the Centre and in turn Parliament enacted the NCR Act. Under the NCR Act these areas are earmarked for agricultural use and, therefore, these cannot be used for setting up SEZs, he submitted.

A Bench of Justice KG Balakrishnan and Justice DK Jain asked the Centre and other respondents to file their replies to the petition, which would affect as many as 56 SEZs being set up in the NCR.

The petitioner pointed out several contradictions between the Central and Haryana Act on SEZ and the NCR Act and requested the court to pass appropriate directions to the three state governments to place on record details of MoUs/ Agreements signed by them with various companies.

He sought quashing of the Agreements for setting up of SEZs on the ground that the companies were arbitrarily granted exemptions from sales tax, income tax, registration fees etc to the tune of Rs 1,75,487 crore over the next four years.

He demanded that wherever lands are acquired for setting up of SEZs, the farmers/land owners be made partners/stake holders to the extent of at least 15 per cent in the concerned ventures.

Terming the notifications issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act on January 29, 2003 and January 28, 2004 and the award dated January 27, 2006 as arbitrary, illegal and against the mandatory provisions of law, the petitioner sought their quashing.

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First Published: Dec 08, 2006 20:20 IST