The Gujarat High Court has held that an electricity company does not require the consent of a private landowner to lay overhead high tension transmission lines and that at most, such landowner may claim compensation for any damage that may be sustained during the process.
A single Bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav heavily relied on a division bench judgment in Gujarat State Electricity Transmission Corporation Ltd., Vs. Ratilal Maganji Brahmbhatt which held that:
"The Electricity Act, 2003, is a progressive enactment, with a specific purpose of providing electricity to a large number of people, across the country, to promote industrial and sustainable development in all walks of life. Right of a land owner to possess and enjoy the property, though recognised as a Constitutional Right, under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India, such right has to yield to the Articles 14 and 21 respectively of the Constitution of India, which strive to achieve the Constitutional Goals, enshrined in the basic structure of the Constitution of India."
The Court was hearing a writ petition seeking installation of the 'KV Electric line' inside and underneath the final plot of the Petitioner. This was because the line passing overhead on the private land of the Petitioner had caused the value of the land to deteriorate without any consent from the Petitioner. The plot of the Petitioner has now been divided into halves and the other half has become 'redundant', it was claimed.
The High Court concluded that the Division Bench had specifically rejected similar contentions raised by individuals for passing of transmission lines through their land. The Petitioners were permitted to raise dispute regarding compensation u/s 16(4) of the Telegraph Act in accordance with law. It was held that neither the consent of the land owner was necessary nor was he required to be heard.
Reliance was also placed on Himmatbhai Vallabhbhai Patel Vs. Chief Engineer (Projects) Gujarat Energy Transmission and others, where it was held that the Company had absolute power u/s 164 of the Electricity Act to lay down the electrical lines subject to the right of the Appellant to claim compensation. "Once the power is conferred on the licencee or any other competent authority, there can be no objection to the implementation of the scheme, on the principles of natural justice or on the ground of unauthorised use of the land."
Therefore, the issue was no more res integra and the petition was dismissed.
Case No.: C/SCA/14617/2022
Case Title: PARTH KRISHNKANT PATEL v/s MANAGING DIRECTOR/ GENERAL MANAGER (LEGAL CELL)
Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Guj) 319