‘Land Acquisition Compensation Can’t Be Different Based On Nature Of Ownership’ : Supreme Court
The Supreme court passed a judgement on 20th February, 2023. This was seen in the case of Ramesh Chandra Sharma And Ors. v. State of Uttar Pradesh And Ors Civil Appeal No. 8819 of 2022 he case was presided over by Hon’ble Justice Krishna Murari
FACTS OF THE CASE:
Since early 1970, the wave of liberalization influenced people from all over the country to migrate to Delhi for job opportunities. To contain the influx of migrants and to provide dignified living to them, the Union Government decided to develop residential and industrial areas around the capital, which was on its journey to become a global city. Thus, Gurgaon and NOIDA were developed. Eventually, these two areas were not sufficient to meet the needs of the migrating population and the township of Greater Noida had to be created. It was created in exercise of power under Section 3 of the UP Industrial Area Development Act, 1976 by the Uttar Pradesh Government.The Greater Noida Authority issued notifications dated 03.10.2005 and 05.01.2006 under Section 4(1) and Section 6(1) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 to acquire about 580 hectares of land. The acquisition entailed litigation. A Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court directed the Authority to pay additional compensation to the landholders at the rate of 64.70% of the already paid compensation and a further direction was issued to allot developed Abadi land to the extent of 10% of their acquired land, subject to a cap of Rs.2,500/- square meter. However, the High Court had not made any distinction between Pushtaini and Gair Pushtaini landholders.The High Court’s decision was confirmed by the Supreme Court in 2015.
In 2006, an agreement was entered into between the Greater Noida Authority and the landholders under Rule 4(2) of the Land Acquisition Rules, 1997. In view of the Board’s 1998 decision, the Pushtaini landholders were paid compensation @ Rs. 322 per sq.. Eventually, the Pushtaini landholder and holders were also given additional compensation and it was approved by the State Government in 2009.
The ‘Pushtaini’ landholders were given additional compensation awarded for rehabilitation bonus and 10% area of acquired land. The ‘Gair-pushtainis’ were denied these additional benefits. In 2009, the State Government had granted approval for the enhanced compensation paid to a certain class of landholders. Thereafter, petitions were filed before the Allahabad High Court challenging the decision of the Board and the approval granted by the State Government. In 2016, the Division Bench of the High Court upheld the classification as reasonable and bearing direct nexus with the object sought to be achieved. A batch of petitions was filed assailing similar classification made by the Greater Noida Authority. While deciding the matter, the Division Bench of the High Court had disagreed with the decision of the co-ordinate Bench in the NOIDA matter. Therefore, the issue was referred to the Full Bench of the Allahabad High Court. By way of its order dated 30.03.2018, the Full Bench upheld the classification.
While striking down the classification, the Bench comprising Justice Krishna Murari and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat held –
- The Land Acquisition Act does not envisage any differential compensation on the basis of such classification;
- The mischief rendered by the classification can be severed and the remaining part of the executive actions that seek to grant compensation for the purpose of rehabilitation would remain valid in law;
- The ex-gratia payment and increased base amount shall be given to all landowners in the concerned area;
- Any claim to differentiate between classes of person to be backed by empirical data;
- Even if classification has a rational nexus to the objective of objective of notification, it must be legitimised by the parent statute.
The judgment authored by Justice Krishna Murari observed – “The establishment of Greater Noida, as discussed above, was done for a noble purpose, i.e. , i.e., to accommodate in the city all those who came travelling from every corner of the country in search of a better life. While doing so however ,as can be seen in the present case, some residents whose land was subject to acquisition in the pursuit of the said aim, were faced with discrimination. In such circumstance, it becomes the duty of this Court to dispense justice, and rectify the harm caused to those at the receiving end of the discrimination.”
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Judgement reviewed by Drishti verma