Land acquired for housing purpose must revert back to owner, and not to anyone else directly or indirectly: Supreme Court [Read Judgment]
Entertaining an application for releasing of land in favour of the builder amounts to transfer of resources of poor for the benefit of the rich. It amounts to permitting profiteering at the cost of livelihood and existence of a farmer, the Bench said.
Supreme Court in UDDAR GAGAN PROPERIES LTD. VS. SANT SINGH has made some pertinent observations about Land acquisition by the State and private builder benefitting in the process. The Bench comprising of Justices Anil R. Dave and Adarsh Kumar Goel observed that land acquired for housing purpose must revert back to owner, and not to anyone else directly or indirectly.
The land was proposed to be acquired for residential/commercial sector by the Haryana Urban Development Authority. The High Court had held that the High Court that there was an abuse of power in releasing the land in favour of the builder. On Appeal, the Apex Court made the following observations:
- There could be no objection to acquisition of land for a compelling public purpose nor to regulated development of colonies, but entertaining an application for releasing of land in favour of the builder who comes into picture after acquisition notification and release of land to such builder tantamount to acquisition for a private purpose. It amounts to transfer of resources of poor for the benefit of the rich. It amounts to permitting profiteering at the cost of livelihood and existence of a farmer. This is against the philosophy of the Constitution and in violation of guaranteed fundamental rights of equality and right to property and to life.
- What cannot be done directly cannot be done indirectly also. This apart, if State is to be party to directly or indirectly select beneficiary of State largess – which in present fact situation the State certainly is – objectivity and transparency are essential elements of exercise of public power which are required to be followed.
- It is patent that the State has enabled the builder to enter the field after initiation of acquisition to seek colonization on the land covered by acquisition. In absence of State’s action, it was not possible for the builder to enter into the transactions in question which was followed by withdrawal from acquisition. But for assurance from some quarters, the builder could not have made investment nor could land owners have executed the transactions in question. Such fraudulent and clandestine exercise of power by the State is not permitted by law. This is in violation of Public Trust Doctrine
- Land is scarce natural resource. Owner of land has guarantee against being deprived of his rights except under a valid law for compelling needs of the society and not otherwise. The commercial use of land can certainly be rewarding to an individual. Initiation of acquisition for public purpose may deprive the owner of valuable land but it cannot permit another person who may be able to get permission to develop colony to take over the said land.
- If the law allows the State to take land for housing needs, the State itself has to keep the title or dispose of land consistent with Article 14 after completion of acquisition. If after initiation of acquisition, process is not to be completed, land must revert back to owner on the date of Section 4 notification and not to anyone else directly or indirectly.
Read the Judgment here.