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Court orders status quo on Uttar Pradesh land acquisition

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday ordered status quo on the proceedings for acquisition of land in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad district on which Sahara City Homes had planned to develop a township.

The vacation bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Deepak Verma and comprising Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan also gave the state government six weeks’ time to file a counter affidavit over the acquisition of 91.68 acres of land in Rasulpur Yakutpur village.

The order was passed after senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi told the Court that the proceedings to acquire the land suffered from legal malice.

He said that the state government’s order of Dec 30, 2005 clearly stated that in all those cases where the land has been purchased by private developers prior to the notification for their acquisition, the same would be exempted from the acquisition proceedings.

The senior counsel told the court that the Ghaziabad Development Authority (GDA) needed about 500 acre land for constructing 7,239 housing units but was acquiring additional lands for creating a land bank of 1,000 acre.

Opposing the plea, counsel appearing for the government said that a big township was being developed in the area and the said land was crucial for providing connectivity. At this, Justice Verma said that the plea of ‘land locking was not there’.

The court said that if it was for land locking then no construction could go on it.

The court said this while pointing to counsel’s earlier plea that houses for weaker section were being constructed on the land in question. Singhvi said: ‘For five years they have not spoken one word on land locking’.

Singhvi told the court that it could record his statement that no construction was taking place and then send a court Commissioner to verify it. The senior counsel said that if his submission before the court was found wrong then he could be hauled up for contempt.

Counsel for the government said that Sahara India Commercial Corp Ltd did not own even an inch of the said land and it were its subsidiaries which owned the entire land.

He said that 11 of these companies had applied for compensation at an enhanced rate thereby suggesting that they now had no right to challenge the acquisition by the state government.

Justice Verma said: ‘Do you want they should give it (land) for free. What is wrong in asking for compensation at an enhanced rate.’

‘Their request for enhanced rate of compensation does not take away their right to other remedies including challenging the acquisition,’ he said.

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