SC scraps Haryana govt decisions in land acquisition cases

SC scraps Haryana govt decisions in land acquisition cases”

The Supreme Court on Monday set aside the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Haryana government's 2007 decision quashing its 2004 notification to acquire 912 acres from three villages in Gurgaon for setting up an industrial township.

The land was acquired from three villages - Manesar, LakhnoulaandNaurangpur, for the goal of setting up an industrial township.

The case involved the state industries department issuing a notification about the government's decision to acquire land in Gurgaon, triggering distress sale to builders who promptly stepped in to offer rates higher than what the farmers would have got as compensation. Subsequently, the state government in 2008 dropped the acquisition process and approved building plans of a group of housing societies in 2009. "We are given to understand that a commission of inquiry was appointed by Haryana to enquire into certain facts concerning acquisitions in respect of lands in Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex and that the matter is presently subject matter of challenge before the Punjab and Haryana high court on account of which further steps are held up".

The leader of the Opposition the SC judgment is a milestone in giving justice to the farmers and significantly it has also referred to its earlier judgment of "UddarGagan" case while averring that the "builders/private entities will not be entitled to recover the consideration paid by them to the land holders". "Buyers from whom money was collected by builders will either be entitled to refunds or plots/apartments", the order said.

"The transactions so entered into between the landholders and the concerned builders/ private entities could not be said to be voluntary and free from any influence".

Indicting the then government, the order said "in our considered view the decisions dated 24.08.2007 and 29.01.2010 were taken to confer advantages and benefits upon the builders/private entities rather than to carry out or effectuate public goal". On August 24, 2007, the government passed an order dropping the acquisition. "The unnatural and unreasonable bargain was forced upon the landholders by creating façade of impending acquisition...the motive was to confer undue advantage on the builders/private entities". "In our considered view, those decisions were clear case of fraud on power and as such are annulled", the SC said in its ruling on Manesar land release case.

Finding "middlemen" getting a windfall from the fraud, a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit said, "The CBI may do well to unravel the truth".

The bench said wherever there has been fraud on power, the duty of the court was not only to set aside such exercise of power but to see that there was no unjust enrichment directly or indirectly as a result thereof and there was full and substantial restoration.

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