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A Supreme Court bench comprising of  Justices A K Sikri, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah, on Tuesday upheld an order of the Allahabad High Court wherein it had, imposed a penalty on New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA) of compensation of disputed land at twice market value which would be determined in accordance with provisions of Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and pay the same to the Land holder (Private Respondent)  within three months from the date of judgment, failing which NOIDA shall restore possession of disputed land to landholder by removing constructions and further, directed that the landholder shall also be entitled to cost which court quantify to Rs 5,00,000 in each set of writ petition.

In the present case, UP Government had issued preliminary notification dated November 30, 1989 under Section 4(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, proposing to acquire 57.218 acres of land comprising a large number of khasras in Village-Bhagel Begumpur, Pargana Dadri, District Ghaziabad (now Gautambudh Nagar). This was followed by a final Notification dated June 16, 1990 issued under Section 6(1) of Act. The State Government also exercised powers under Sections 17(1) and (4) of the Act and dispensed with inquiry under Section 5A of the Act. Wherein NOIDA presented that the land has been acquired for residential complex to accommodate industrial labourers and persons of weaker sections, construction of roads, bus depot, and also green belt to avoid pollution arising from medium and large industries including Hosiery Complex and NOIDA Export Processing Zone Complex. The total land proposed to be acquired is 91-11-0 bighas and out if this 25-19-7 bighas is marked for residential complex, 2-4-0 bighas for road, 9 bighas for bus depot and 54-7-13 bighas for green belt. There was a big ‘Nala’ having width of about 80 ft. and green belt proposed on both sides of ‘Nala’. However, it was denied that the NOIDA has no scheme or plan and the requirement is for public purpose.

The private respondents were served with notice under Section 9 of the Act. The private respondents filed a petition, challenging the acquisition, before Allahabad High Court wherein court passed an interim order. However, without leave of the court, NOIDA started construction of City Bus Terminal in January, 2015 on the disputed land despite the protest raised by the Private Respondent. It was further contended that the construction raised by the NOIDA despite interim order passed by the High Court is unauthorized and illegal. Therefore, possession of the disputed land is to be directed to be restored to them.

High Court had pointed out in the judgment that it would be very harsh to get entire constructions demolished and restore possession of disputed land of landholder. It further quashed the Acquisition notifications dated November 30, 1989 and June 16, 1990 of the State Government since dispensation of inquiry under Section 5A by invocation of urgency under Section 17 is patently illegal.

Supreme Court has noted that it has now been almost 28 years since the said land has been notified for acquisition NOIDA has not produced any document to substantiate its contention that the respondents are not the titleholders of the land. On the other hand, respondent have already produced their title deeds in relation to the said land.

The apex court further observed that the NOIDA is not justified in contending that the private Petitioner/Landholder are not the titleholders of the land. It found no merit in these appeals and accordingly dismissed it and affirmed the High Court order, directing determination of compensation on the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case.

It also contended that the said order shall not be made applicable for determination of compensation in respect of other lands acquired under the same notification except in the present petition listed in this case.

–India Legal Bureau

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