New Delhi: In a historic judgement with far reaching implications, the Supreme Court on Wednesday termed as illegal the acquisition of farmland in Greater Noida for construction of high-rise apartments.
The case pertained to the acquisition of farmland at Sahberi village in Greater Noida (the area is popularly known as Noida Extension) by the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority for industrial purpose which was later sold to private builders.
The Authority and affected real estate developers had filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the SC after Allahabad High Court ordered the denotifying of acquisition of land in several villages in Noida Extension.
Rejecting the SLP and upholding the Allahabad HC’s order, the SC said the land acquisition at Sahberi was done in a wrongful manner and also questioned the manner in which the allotment of land was made to builders.
The court also imposed a penalty of Rs 10 lakh on the Greater Noida Authority.
The SC further ordered the Authority to return the acquired land to farmers who are unhappy with the difference in compensation paid to them and the price charged from developers for their land.
Although today’s judgement concerns only the Sahberi village, but the victory would surely make other affected famers from other villages also challenge the acquisition of their land.
Moreover, the judgement will have a bearing on the entire issue of land acquisition on which the Centre is planning to come up with a new policy soon.
And going by the tough stand taken by the apex court, the land owner’s right over his land and livelihood has to be at the centrestage of any new policy.
Yesterday, the SC had slammed the Noida Authority for taking advantage of the "colonial law" on land acquisition to divest farmers of their prime agricultural land benefitting the rich and paying "pittiance" to common men.
The apex court said a "sinister campaign" has been launched by various state governments to take advantage of the law against the poor people for taking away the land and giving it to builders where multiplexes, malls, posh residential complexes are developed which are beyond the reach of common men.
"Do you think judges live in fools` paradise?” snapped a bench of Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly when senior advocate PP Rao responded to a question that the residential complexes were being developed for the "needy".
"You are building hotels, malls, commercial complexes, townships where common men have no access. Does it come under the perception of public purpose for which the land have been acquired?"
The bench had also questioned the change by UP government in land use in Greater Noida and said "this is not the plan for which the land is acquired. How different notifications came out for changing the use of land".
The sharp remarks were made by the bench during the hearing on petitions filed by Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority Supertech and Amrapali, challenging the Allahabad HC order which had quashed the notifications for land acquisition in Greater Noida adjoining the national capital.