By LE Desk
Chandigarh, May 10: Nearly 34 years after proceedings for acquiring 35.76 acres were initiated for residential, commercial and institutional purposes in Kurukshetra’s Sectors 6 and 11, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held that the state’s refusal to release the remaining acquired land was violative of Article 14 as the purpose of acquisition stood vitiated.
The Bench added that it stood established that major chunks of the land belonging to similarly situated landowners already stood released. “Thus, we find ourselves totally in agreement with the arguments advanced by counsel for the petitioners that their case is not different from those land owners whose land already stood released,” the Bench of Justice Ajay Tewari and Justice Rajesh Bhardwaj ruled, as reported by The Tribune.
The matter was brought to the High Court’s notice after three petitions were filed by Balbir Kumar and other petitioners against the State of Haryana and other respondents for quashing notification dated April 21, 1987, and April 20, 1988, issued under Sections 4 and 6 of the Land Acquisition Act. Directions were also sought for quashing letters rejecting their claim.
Appearing before the Bench, the petitioners’ counsel contended that the purpose for acquiring the land by the state was totally defeated by releasing major chunk in pursuance to representations made, and orders passed by the courts, at various stages. Even if miniscule part of the land owned by the petitioners was kept by the state, the same would be of no use for developing the two sectors as envisaged by the State.
Opposing the petitioners’ contentions, the state counsel, on the other hand, submitted that the petitioners had already accepted the compensation for acquisition of their land pursuant to the award announced on April 12, 1990. The land’s possession stood vested in the state and the petitioners had no cause of action to pray for the release of the land acquired.
After hearing rival contentions, the Bench asserted that the non-acceptance of the petitioners’ prayers for not releasing the land would be a travesty of justice. “The petitioners have succeeded in establishing that the action of the state in declining their prayer for release of their acquired land is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India (equality before law) and thus, liable to be set aside. Hence, all the three petitions are allowed accordingly,” the Bench concluded.