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Kerala HC allows senior citizen 60 days to vacate property for National Highway expansion

The petitioner, N.K. Parameswaran, is a senior citizen aged 81 years, whose property in Payyoli, Kozhikode district, has been acquired for widening the National Highway.

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The Kerala High Court on Friday disposed of the petition of a senior citizen, providing 60 days time to the petitioner from dispossessing and demolishing his residential building for widening the National Highway.

The petitioner, N.K. Parameswaran, is a senior citizen aged 81 years, whose property in Payyoli, Kozhikode district, has been acquired for widening the National Highway, while invoking the provisions under the National Highways Act, 1956, has filed the writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, seeking a writ of certiorari to quash notice issued by the the Deputy Collector and competent authority.

The petitioner has also sought for a writ of prohibition restraining the competent authority from dispossessing the petitioner and demolishing the residential building without providing 60 days time, i.e., time upto 31.05.2021 as per the statutory prescription. The grievance of the petitioner is that, though sub-section (1) of Section 3E of the National Highways Act provides 60 days time to leave the premises, the competent authority reduced the notice period to 15 days .

A Single Bench of Justice Anil K. Narendran, after hearing the Counsel for the petitioner, the Government Pleader and Standing Counsel for the National Highway Authority of India, observed that the issue that arises for consideration in the petition is as to whether the competent authority is justified in limiting the notice period to 15 days in, despite the specific requirement of sub-section (1) of Section 3E of the National Highways Act.

Sub-section (1) of Section 3E of the Act deals with power to take possession. As per sub-section (1) of Section 3E, where any land has vested in the Central Government under subsection (2) of Section 3-D, and the amount determined by the competent authority under Section 3-G with respect to such land has been deposited under sub-section (1) of Section 3-H, with the competent authority by the Central Government, the competent authority may by notice in writing direct the owner as well as any other person who may be in possession of such land to surrender or deliver possession thereof to the competent authority or any person duly authorised by it in this behalf within sixty days of the service of the notice.

Therefore , the Court noted that while issuing notice, the competent authority cannot reduce the notice period to 15 days contrary to the requirements in sub-section (1) of Section 3E of the Act.

In such circumstances, the Bench disposed the Petition while setting aside the notice, and providing the petitioner 60 days’ time (till 31.05.2021) to give vacant possession.

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