The Calcutta High Court on Friday set aside a notification issued by the concerned authority under Section 3(1) of the Petroleum and Minerals Pipelines (Acquisition of Right of User in land) Act, 1962 (Act) for laying a Gas Pipeline below the surface in between the Barauni and Guwahati on the ground of violation of principles of natural justice.
Justice Saugata Bhattacharyya was adjudicating upon a challenge against the steps taken by the concerned authority under the Act whereby a notification had been issued to acquire the right of user of the land of the petitioner for laying a Gas Pipeline below the surface in between the Barauni and Guwahati.
Upon a perusal of the record, the Bench observed that pursuant to Section 5(2) of the Act, the respondent authority is under an obligation to grant an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner before taking steps to acquire the right of user of the land of the petitioner.
It was further noted that the petitioner had lodged an objection in terms of Section 5(1) of the Act but the said objection had not been considered by the competent authority under Section 5(2) which is required as per the scheme of the Act.
Opining that the concerned authority is required to comply with the principle of natural justice, the Court further underscored,
"On behalf of the competent authority attempt has been made to impress upon this Court that since the objection is not addressed to the competent authority the opportunity of hearing could not be granted. Such hyper technical approach on the part of the competent authority pales into insignificance keeping in view the fact that the concerned respondent authorities by issuing notification under Section 3(1) was required to acquire the right of user of the land of the petitioner, therefore, propriety demands forwarding of such objection by the respondent nos.2 & 3 to the competent authority for the sake of granting opportunity of hearing to the petitioner and to comply with the principle of natural justice"
Accordingly, the Court set aside the impugned notification on the ground that the requirement of hearing as contemplated under Section 5(2) of the Act of 1962 has not been complied with.
Directing the competent authority to decide the objection lodged by the petition, the Court ordered further,
"The competent authority being the respondent no.4 is directed to decide on the objection lodged by the petitioner in terms of Section 5(2) of the said Act of 1962 within three weeks from the date of communication of this order."
The Court further ordered that the decision to be taken by the competent authority shall be communicated to the petitioner within one week thereafter.
Case Title: Md Jamiruddin v. Union of India & Ors
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Cal) 180