23 July 2021 2:02 PM GMT
The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed a batch of petitions alleging discrepancies in the acquisition proceedings for the widening of National Highway 66 in the State on the ground that judicial review is impermissible in the matter. Justice P.V Kunhikrishnan, while dismissing a batch of petitions against the land acquisition process for the widening of NH-66 in Kollam, observed, "God...
The Kerala High Court on Friday dismissed a batch of petitions alleging discrepancies in the acquisition proceedings for the widening of National Highway 66 in the State on the ground that judicial review is impermissible in the matter.
Justice P.V Kunhikrishnan, while dismissing a batch of petitions against the land acquisition process for the widening of NH-66 in Kollam, observed, "God will forgive us if religious institutions are affected in the course of development of national highways in the state."
The main grievance of the petitioners was that the National Highway Authority of India was not following the directions of the State about the alignment of the proposed widening of National Highway-66. There are two Temples and a Mosque on the left of the road, but the Mosque shown on the right of the road is a private Mosque.
According to the petitioners, the Government suggested alterations in the alignment with a specific intention to save a private Mosque, thereby causing the acquisition to concentrate on the left of the existing Highway, where the petitioners reside and temples and mosques are located.
However, this was denied by the respondents. The authorities contended that no alterations were introduced in this location and justified that the same design was followed considering the road geometry, design speed and to save religious structures nearby.
There were several allegations raised by the petitioners throughout the proceedings. Nevertheless, the significant question that required consideration by the Court was whether the alignment proposed by the authorities is justified.
The Court decided that recommendations made by the authorities are not binding to the NHAI. "As observed by the Apex Court, National Highway Authority is a professionally managed statutory body having expertise in the field of development and maintenance of National Highways," it held.
The NHAI submitted that they were not in a position to accept the suggestions of the petitioners because of several reasons. The Court observed that no specific malafides were alleged in the petitions against the authorities for adopting the present alignment.
"Whether there is a house building erected on the proposed alignment in question or that there is a Temple or a Mosque or Grave, which will be affected by the acquisition is not a ground for dropping acquisition proceedings for a public purpose."
The God almighty is omnipresent. He exists on the earth, in the sky, in pillars, and in the rust. He is the embodiment of kindness and dwells in the hearts of all, as a light of kindness. For the development of the National Highway, if the religious institutions are affected, God will forgive us. God will protect the petitioners, the authorities, and also the author of this judgment. God will be with us," the court observed.
The contentions put forth by the petitioners the petitions were therefore set aside.
God will forgive if religious institutions are affected for the development of National Highway, remarks Kerala HC."God will forgive & protect the petitioners, authorities & the author of this judgment" - J PV Kunhikrishnan says dismissing petitions against NH 66 acquisition. pic.twitter.com/TgRsHLvXxc— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) July 23, 2021
God will forgive if religious institutions are affected for the development of National Highway, remarks Kerala HC."God will forgive & protect the petitioners, authorities & the author of this judgment" - J PV Kunhikrishnan says dismissing petitions against NH 66 acquisition. pic.twitter.com/TgRsHLvXxc
Most importantly, whether the Court can interfere in the case to change the alignment to straighten the National Highway and to avoid the mosques on the left, the two temples and schools including the property of the petitioners was the bigger question.
The Bench observed that the jurisdiction of the Court to interfere in such a situation is already settled by several decisions of this Court and the Apex Court, and relied on Union of India v. Kushala Shetty & Ors [2011 (12) SCC 69] to support this stand.
"While invoking the powers under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, this Court cannot sit in appeal to a decision of the National Highway Authorities, a statutory body having expertise in the field. According to me, the jurisdiction of this Court to interfere in such a situation is very limited."
It was additionally held that unless there was patent illegality or malafides, the Court was not empowered to interfere with an alignment finalized by the NHAI.
Case Title: Balakrishna Pillai & Anr v. Union of India & Ors
Click Here To Read / Download The Order