The Supreme Court, on Monday, observed that elimination of poverty also requires increasing access to justice to the destitute.
“From the human rights perspective, persons belonging to the weaker sections are disadvantaged people who are unable to acquire and use their rights because of poverty, social or other constraints. They are not in a position to approach the courts even when their rights are violated; they are victimized or deprived of their legitimate due. Here lies the importance of access to justice for socially and economically disadvantaged people. When such people are denied the basic right of survival and access to justice, it further aggravates their poverty. Therefore, even in order to eliminate poverty, access to justice to the poor sections of the society becomes imperative,” the Bench comprising Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Ashok Bhushan observed.
The Court was hearing Appeals challenging a judgement passed by Allahabad High Court, which had granted compensation at the rate of Rs.115/- per square yards to some villagers whose land had been acquired by the State. The order was challenged as these villagers were precluded from obtaining higher compensation on the ground that the Court fee was paid on the claim at the rate of Rs.115/- square yards and not Rs.297/- per square yards.
Hearing the Appeals, the Apex Court disagreed with the High Court and observed that granting compensation at a higher rate to those villagers whose land was acquired subsequently amounted to “travesty of justice”. It further asserted that “the mere fact that the compensation which was claimed by some of the villagers was at lesser rate than the compensation which is ultimately determined to be fair compensation, should not be a ground to deny such persons appropriate and fair compensation on the ground that they claimed compensation at a lesser rate”.
Besides, the Court opined that higher compensation cannot be denied solely because the Appellants had paid Court fee on the claim at the rate of Rs. 115/- square yards. This, it said, can be taken care of by directing them to pay the difference in Court fee after calculating the same at the rate of Rs. 297/- per square yards.
It, therefore, set aside the judgment passed by the High Court and held that the Appellants were entitled to compensation at the rate of Rs.297/- per square yards. The difference in compensation, along with other statutory benefits, was directed to be paid to them within a period of three months.