The Supreme Court has said that before any individual is deprived of his land by way of compulsory acquisition by a government or its instrumentalities he must get an opportunity to oppose the decision.
An apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya said Wednesday that in the recent past various state governments adopted a very casual approach in dealing with the matter relating to the acquisition of land in general and in rural areas in particular.
Justice Singhvi said: “It is difficult, if not impossible, to appreciate as to why the state and its instrumentalities resort to massive acquisition of land and that too without complying with the mandate of the statute.”
The court said this while upholding a petition by Raghbir Singh Sehrawat challenging the acquisition of his land in village Jatheri in Sonepat district by the Haryana government.
His plea against the acquisition of land was rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The court said that the state or its instrumentalities, before acquiring private lands, should, as far as possible, use land belonging to the state for the specified purposes.
“If the acquisition of private land becomes absolutely necessary, then, too, the concerned authorities must strictly comply with the relevant statutory provisions and the rules of natural justice,” the court said.
The court said that the delay in the disposal of cases of land acquisition adversely impacts the implementation of the projects of public importance.
But the delay in deciding such cases may not be of much significance “when the state and its agencies want to confer benefit upon private parties by acquiring lands in the name of public purpose”, the court said.
“If the lands of such persons is acquired, not only the current but the future generations are also ruined and this is one of the reasons why who are deprived of their holdings commit suicide.”
The judges said: “It also appears that the concerned authorities are totally unmindful of the plight of those sections of society, who are deprived of their only assets like small house or small industrial unit.”
The economically affluent class of society can easily afford to have one or more houses at any place or locality in the country but other sections of society find it extremely difficult to purchase land and construct houses.