Larger public interest supercedes individual interest: Allahabad High Court

Jeremy Bentham’s principle of Utilitarianism was based on the ideology of greatest good for the greatest number.Similar principle was adhered to and importance of giving greater weightage to greater number of people and larger public interest instead of individual interest in a land acquisition matter at Allahabad High Court in a division bench consisting of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Piyush Agarwal examined in Smt. Prabha Shukla v. State of Uttar Pradesh & OrsWrit -C No.- 18526/2021 decided on 5.1.2022.

The facts of this case are that the petitioner challenged acquisition of his agricultural land by government for construction of railway over bridge, which was which was for residential purpose.The acquisition was done under section 11 and Section 19 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013.The petititoner objected to the acquisition by filing the writ.

The counsel on behalf of the petitioner contended that land was acquired without providing fair opportunity of hearing and the notification of acquisition stated that no compensation or rehabilitation will be given to landowners.

The counsel on behalf of the Respondent contended that minimum land was acquired by the notification with the object of welfare of people  and larger public interest.Though the land was intended for residential purposes, yet at the time of acquisition no house was constructed in the land and the Petitioner already has a residence somewhere else and so no claim for rehabilitation can arise arise, but assurance of compensation was given.The project is being undertaken to facilitate larger public interest and excess interference into it would result in wastage of time and money.

The Allahabad High Court relied upon Supreme Court in Ramniklal N. Bhutta and another v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. stating that even if there are minor discrepancies in the land acquisition notification, yet it shall not be prudent to squash the acquisition order as the project has been significantly completed and setting it aside would not be in larger public interest.The court opined that “projects of public importance should not be halted as the same would be against the larger public interest and the constitutional courts should weigh public interest vis-à-vis private interest, while exercising its discretion.”

Judgement reviewed by Bhaswati Goldar


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