The Allahabad High Court recently dismissed pleas challenging land acquisition notifications of the Union Government for the purpose of widening, maintenance, management, and operation of National Highways in district Pilibhit under the Green National Highway Corridor Project
The Bench of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice J. J. Munir noted that the project is for the development of infrastructure and has national importance.
It may be noted that this project aims to develop safe and green National Highway corridors in the country and also to enhance the institutional capacity of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways in mainstreaming safety and green technologies.
In total 3 pleas had been moved before the High Court challenging two notifications of the Union Government to acquire land for the project. The challenge was made on the ground that the acquisition was in violation of Rule 8 of the National Highways Fee (Determination of Rates and Collection) Rules, 2008 as no Toll Plaza could be established within five kilometers of an industrial area. The land of the petitioners is located within that area
The Court noted that the petitioners had not filed any objection after the issuance of notification under Section 3A of the National Highways Act, 1956 [Power to acquire land, etc] and that the objection was filed by the petitioners only after the issuance of notification under Section 3D of the Act.
In view of this, stressing that the project is of national importance and it aims to develop infrastructure, the Court observed thus:
"There is nothing mentioned in the notifications that the acquisition in question is specifically for the purpose of construction of Toll Plaza, rather a large chunk of land, measuring a total of 122.7152 hectares, was acquired for the construction of a national highway under the Green National Highway Corridor Project, which is of national importance. Out of the aforesaid, the land owned by the petitioners in all the aforesaid writ petitions, as shown in the notification under Section 3D of the Act, annexed with the petitions as Annexure-5, is 1.8629 hectares (0.5278, 0.9031, 0.432 hectares respectively in all the three petitions)."
The petitioners were represented through Advocate Arpit Agarwal. Respondents were represented by Advocate Pranjal Mehrotra and Ms. Akanksha Sharma, Standing Counsel.
Case title - Jaywanti Devi v. Union of India and others and connected pleas
Case Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (AB) 249