12 Dec 2022 10:45 AM GMT
In a recent dispute where a Central Government entity moved Punjab and Haryana High Court against Haryana Government through a writ, the High Court expressed its worries on the matter not reflecting well on the federal arrangement and ordered for constitution of a High Powered Committee to deal with their disputes. "In a welfare State it does not augur well on the part of one Government...
In a recent dispute where a Central Government entity moved Punjab and Haryana High Court against Haryana Government through a writ, the High Court expressed its worries on the matter not reflecting well on the federal arrangement and ordered for constitution of a High Powered Committee to deal with their disputes.
"In a welfare State it does not augur well on the part of one Government to be in lis with another Government, by invoking provisions of Article 226 of Constitution of India. It goes against the very grain of Westminster module of governance," said the Court.
The matter goes back to 2010, when the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a Government of India Enterprise, had made acquisitions of lands of persons in Haryana. Monetary Compensation was paid to the oustees, however, the Haryana Government passed an order, directing NPCIL to additionally provide jobs to oustees under the Haryana State Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2010.
NPCIL approached the High Court praying for the quashing of this order, stating that their obligation was limited to paying monetary compensation against the land acquired by them.
NPCIL maintained that the provision of providing employment to the land oustees under the Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy, 2010 was not applicable to it, nor was an undertaking to that effect made by NPCIL. They argued that given the specialized nature of work which NPCIL undertakes, NPCIL had its own norms of employing human resource dependant very much on the expertise of the person.
The single bench of Justice Arun Monga noted how it was ultimately the oustees who were impacted due to the tussle between the two Governments. The Court said:
"Due to sheer callousness, if one may call it, of tossing the responsibility back and forth between Centre and State, the oustees have been left high and dry qua the reciprocal assurances given to them, while acquiring their land. No doubt, one time compensation has though been paid to them, but rest of the benefits, including that of providing job to one family member of each oustee land owner, remain unfulfilled, though the land was acquired way back 10-12 years ago."
"Livelihood is integral part of right to live and life, and is thus a fundamental right envisaged under Article 21 of Constitution of India. Compensation remains a poor substitute of loss of livelihood. As already stated, it does not reflect well on a Welfare State to indulge in such harsh and capricious practice to deprive fundamental rights of a citizen," added the High Court while noting the plight of the tussle on the oustees.
In an attempt to ensure that there is a body to resolve disputes of similar nature, Justice Monga ordered the constitution of a Committee to look into the rehabilitation policy and to also resolve subsequent disputes between NPCIL and Haryana Government that may arise. The Court said:
"Secretary, Ministry of Power and New & Renewable Energy, GOI is directed to constitute a High Powered Committee (HPC) headed and chaired by him, with Additional Chief Secretary to Haryana Government, Power Department, MD of NPCIL, MD of Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited as its necessary constituents. The Secretary to GOI shall be at liberty to include a fifth member of his choice."
Explaining the functions of the Committee, the Court said:
"The HPC shall look into the inter se disputes between NPCIL vis-à-vis Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited. It shall also formulate the issues to be resolved in seriatim. After holding threadbare discussions and going through the relevant record, it shall also give a conclusive report as to which R&R policy is applicable and who is to be held responsible for implementation thereof. Committee's report/opinion, needless to say, shall be binding on both Government of India as well as State Government."
Noting that the landowners have already been waiting for 10-12 years expecting that a person from their family shall get job, the Court directed that the HPC shall decide and appropriate responsibility on who is to offer such employment within the next six months.
Case Title: Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd v. State of Haryana and Others
Citation: CWP-21270-2021 (O&M)
Coram: Justice Arun Monga
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (PH) 321
Click Here To Read/Download the Order