Owner of land acquired under CBA Act 1957 must be fairly compensated: High Court of Chhattisgarh

The Coal Bearing Areas (Acquisitions and Development) Act was passed in 1957 to give the Indian government greater public control over the coal mining industry by providing the right to the state to acquire unworked lands which are likely to coal deposits. However it is necessary that the owner of the land acquired by the state is fairly compensated or rehabilitated and not doing so would be a violation of his rights granted under the same act. This was addressed by a single-member bench consisting of Justice Goutam Bhaduri of the High Court of Chhattisgarh in the case of Masat Ram v The Union of India [WPC No. 1913 of 2021] on 14th June 2021.

The petitioner, Masat Ram is an 81 year old man from Raigarh, Chhattisgarh. His land was acquired by the Respondent No: 2, South Eastern Coal Fields Limited (SECL) under provisions of the Coal Bearing Areas Act and a memo was issued by the Government of India which contained further clarifications regarding the same. However till date, the petitioner has not received any form of compensation or rehabilitation which is owed to him as per Section 6 of the CBA Act of 1957 despite making representations before the competent authorities.  The respondents have also failed to take cognizance of the memo issued by the Government of India. As a result of this, the petitioner approached the high court for justice in this matter.

The court examined the facts of the case and noted that the petitioner’s prayer was very reasonable. Justice Goutam Bhaduri can be quoted as saying “the petitioner is given liberty to make a fresh representation to Respondents No. 2 & 3 within a period of 3 weeks from today and if such representation is filed, Respondents No. 2 & 3 are directed to decide the representation strictly in accordance with law within a further period of 3 months from the date of receipt of the copy of the representation. The respondents are also directed to take cognizance of the memo dated 04.08.2017 issued by the Government of India”.

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