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A day after Vedanta moved the Supreme Court against the Orissa High Court order quashing land acquisition for its university project in Puri, the Orissa government has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the apex court, challenging the same verdict.

“I wish to inform that the state government has filed a SLP in the Supreme Court of India against the judgment pronounced by the Orissa High Court on November 16, 2010 in writ petition number WP ( C ) 10325 of 2007 and other writ petitions in the matter of land acquisition for Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) in Puri district”, said Orissa minister for revenue & disaster management, SN Patra in the state assembly.

 According to sources, the SLP filed by the state government is in line with the arguments put forth by the chief minister defending land acquisition for the Vedanta University project in the state assembly.

Contesting the HC order, he said, “The High Court has held that the AAF is a private company and not a public company in terms of provisions of the Companies Act, 1956. Therefore, it has held that the acquisition of land in favour of the Foundation is not permissible except for some limited purposes enumerated under Section 40 (1) (a) of the Land Acquisition Act. In this connection, I may point out that acquisition was never made under this aforesaid provision but under Section 40 (1) (a)(a) or 40 (1(b) for a public purpose”.

He had also argued that no ordinance has been promulgated for the proposed university project as mentioned in the HC order. The Vedanta University Bill has been passed in the Orissa Legislative Assembly and awaiting the governor’s approval.

On the status of the AAF, he sated, “The Anil Agarwal Foundation had confirmed to the state government regarding the change of its status from a private to a public company with effect from November 23, 2006 by a resolution of the Extraordinary General Meeting pursuant to the approval of the regional director, Department of Company Affairs. The company subsequently produced a letter dated February 21, 2007 from D K Gupta, Registrar of Companies to its address stating that the company has complied with the provisions of requirements of Section 25 of the Companies’ Act and accordingly, the status of the company has been changed from a private company to a public limited company”.

The High Court judgement was in response to seven petitions and two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) which challenged the setting up of the proposed University on several grounds including that of faulty land acquisition processes which were made contrary to the provisions of Land Acquisition Act-1894, Land Acquisition (Amendment) Act-1984 and Land Acquisition (Companies) Rules-1963.

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