New Delhi, July 5: The Supreme Court Tuesday said that the state was the biggest land grabber, depriving farmers of their livelihood for generations.
By taking advantage of the land acquisition law, the state was helping the builders. ‘It is anti-people,’ the court said.
The apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly said that farmers’ lands were being acquired in the name of public interest and being given to builders to construct luxury houses, which had nothing to do with the requirement of the common man.
The court made the comment during the hearing on a batch of petitions by a number of builders challenging the Allahabad High Court verdict that quashed the takeover of land in three villages of Shahberi, Surajpur and Gulistanpur in Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida district.
The land was taken over by invoking emergency provisions of the Land Acquisition Act by changing the land use from industrial to residential.
Justice Singhvi said farmers deprived of livelihood after the acquisition of their lands were left with two options – either to live in slums or to take recourse to criminal activities which we get to witness every day.
When senior counsel P.P. Rao appearing for one of the builders said that farmers’ lands were acquired for public purposes, Justice Ganguly wondered whether the houses being built by ‘reputed builders’ were meant for the common man and to satisfy their needs.
Referring to the broachures of the builder represented by Rao, Justice Ganguly said that you have promised to provide swimming pool, ayurdevic massage parlour and spa, health club, badminton court and commercial centre. Are these meant for the common man?
When Rao referred to the public purpose as defined under the Land Acquisition Act, Justice Ganguly asked the counsel to forget what was said in the statute but go by how Mahatma Gandhi had described the common man and the spirit of the same enshrined in the constitution.
Justice Singhvi noted that not only the land use was changed from industrial to residential but the builders were given 10 years’ time to pay the amount that they had bid for buying the lands.
Justice Singhvi said that on the other hand farmers whose lands were acquired would have to either accept the paltry compensation or engage in decades of litigation to secure their rights.
In the instant case, farmers whose land was acquired were paid a compensation of about Rs.800 per square yard whereas it was sold to builders for Rs.10,000 per square metre.
The hearing would continue Wednesday.