Allahabad: Referring the petitions
challenging the land acquisition in Noida and Greater Noida
to a larger bench, the Allahabad High Court on Tuesday said UP
government will have to answer why it has been repeatedly
invoking the urgency clause when it has taken years to start
work in the area.
A bench comprising justices Amitava Lala and Ashok
Srivastava also gave an option to farmers to reach an
out-of-court settlement with authorities by August 12 while
hearing petitions of hundreds of residents of nearly a dozen
villages of Gautam Buddh Nagar, who had challenged acquisition
of more than 3,000 hectares of land by the state government.
"We observe that the state government has repeatedly
invoked the urgency clause for acquiring land in the area.
The court would like to know what has been its justification
behind doing so."
The court also wondered "why does the state government
take months, sometimes even years, to start development work
on land acquired by it with the plea that the requirement is
urgent and hence owners can not be given an opportunity to
raise their objections".
Moreover, the court also questioned "acquisition of
farmers` land for the purpose of industrial development and
thereafter changing the nature of land itself by handing it
over to builders involved in construction of residential
"The state government will have to give satisfactory
replies on these two points when the matter comes up before
the larger bench," the court said.
The Division Bench, while fixing August 17 as the next
date of hearing, referred all the petitions to the Chief
Justice with the request that a larger bench be constituted
for deciding the matter.
The court refrained from passing any order on the
applications of investors, who had moved the court under the
banner of "Noida Extension Flat Buyers` Welfare Association",
as well as builders, all of whom had made a request for being
made parties in the case.
The court said that those petitioners who wished to
approach the concerned authorities with their grievances and
reach an out-of-court settlement could do so by August 12.
However, the court said that those who choose to
arrive at any agreement with the authorities during this
period would have to inform the court about the same on the
next date of hearing with full details about the relief that
they have agreed to, be it higher compensation or return of
the acquired land.
Earlier in the day, another division bench had recused
itself from hearing a petition filed by farmers of Deola
village in Gautam Buddh Nagar district, who had moved the
court challenging acquisition of 107 hectares of land
belonging to them.
The bench comprising justices RK Agrawal Sunil Hali
had released the matter from its jurisdiction and referred
the matter to the Chief Justice with the request that the
petitions be placed before an "appropriate" bench.
All the petitions are now likely to be heard together
by a larger bench of the court on August 17.
The fate of thousands of people, who have invested in
housing projects in the Noida Extension area, as well as over
a dozen real estate developers also hinges on the court
Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA)
said it will launch fresh negotiations with farmers and was
hopeful of getting their approval.
"We will hold negotiations with farmers. They will be
given the benefit of new rehabilitation policy. We hope to get
the farmers` approval," said Rama Raman, Chief Executive
Officer of GNIDA.
The decision of the High Court to refer all petitions
to a larger bench, however, left the farmers disappointed, who
said they will agree on nothing less than the "market price"
for their land.
Noida Chairman Balwinder Kumar, however said it was
"practically not possible" to meet the key demand of hike in
"There is no possibility of increase in compensation
for land which has already been taken. If authority gives the
hike to one village then the others too will demand. There
will be no acceptable cut off date for such a hike. This is
practically not possible," Kumar said after meeting farmers in
Shahdra village at Sector 41 in Noida.
Today`s hearing commenced with a number of farmers
from Patwari village seeking relief in the light of a July 19
court order whereby acquisition of 589 hectares of land in the
same village had been quashed.
The petitioners had contended that since an order had
already been passed in favour of other farmers from their
village who had moved the court earlier, they too be granted
similar relief as their land had been acquired by the state
government in a similar fashion.
The farmers` plea was opposed by builders involved in
housing projects in Noida Extension area, who contended that
orders quashing the land acquisitions were affecting them as
well as those who had invested their earnings, without any
fault on their part.
The builders` submission was strongly opposed by the
farmers who submitted that in the course of hearing on the
petitions relating to Patwari, the state government had
"deliberately concealed the fact from the court that the
acquired land has been given away to builders, and therefore
the builders must not be given any benefit of doubt".
The court said both the farmers as well as the
builders could place their grievances before the larger bench
constituted by the Chief Justice for hearing matters relating
to land acquisitions in Noida and Greater Noida.
The court also told the builders that they could, if
they wished, move the Supreme Court with their grievances
regarding the High Court order of July 19.
Acquisition of more than 3000 hectares of land, spread
across nearly a dozen villages, has been challenged by the
petitioners who have alleged that their land was acquired by
the state government by invoking "urgency clause" which had
deprived them of an opportunity to raise objections as well as
to bargain for a better compensation.