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Difficult days ahead for Jharkhand core capital dream

Ranchi : At a time when Jharkhand’s Raghubar Das government has started to build the core capital on the vacant lands once belonging to Heavy Engineering Corporation, Hatia, the series of judgments given by the Supreme Court and different High Courts around the country under 2013 land Act is all set to make the task difficult. The Apex Court and High Courts have strongly ruled in favour of land owners under section 24 (2) of the new land Act—The Right to fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Resettlement and Rehabilitation Act 2013, for situations that are similar to the one now present in case of the once vacant land of Heavy Engineering Corporation, Hatia. The section states:

‘…in case of land acquisition initiated under Land Acquisition Act 1894, where an award under the said section 11 has been made five years or more prior to the commencement of this Act but the physical possession of the land has not been taken or the compensation has not been paid, the proceedings shall be deemed to have lapsed and the appropriate Government, if so chooses, shall initiate the proceedings of such land acquisition afresh in accordance with the provisions of this Act.’

On analysis of the section, as has been done by the courts during hearing of petitions, it could be noticed that the land which had been acquired by governments, but is still in possession of the land donors, the proceedings of the land acquisition have lapsed by very virtue of the section 24 (2) of the Land Act 2013.

A few famous judgments of the courts include: Sree Balaji Nagar Residential Association Vs State of Tamil Nadu (September 10, 2014), Karnail Kaur & Others vs state of Punjab (January 22, 2015), Pune Municipal Corporation and Others Vs Harachand Misirimal Solanki and others (January 24, 2014), Bharat Kumar vs State of Haryana (February 4, 2014) and so on.

In Sree Balaji Nagar vs State of Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court of India simply stated: ‘In the absence of physical possession taken by the state for more than five years since the making of the award, when the 2013 Act came into force; the land acquisition proceedings must be deemed to have lapsed in terms of section 24 (2) of the 2013 Act.’ On the other hand, in Karnail Kaur vs state of Punjab, the Supreme Court over ruled the argument of the state which said that the officials of the government could not have been supposed to visit from one bigha to another and take physical possession; and that they had already taken possession in 90 per cent of the land and the rest 10 per cent be accepted as to have been in their physical possession. After over ruling this argument, the Apex Court had ruled in favour of the land owners who were still in possession of the land that once had been acquired and compensated for, by the state.

In case of the once vacant land of HEC, villagers whose forefathers had donated their lands, continue to be in possession of their lands. Originally, Bihar government in 1960s had acquired 9200 acres of land in nearly 30 villages of Ranchi for setting up of HEC. And only around 4000 acres of land had been actually used by HEC and the rest left unused. However, in the following years, the HEC administration had transferred lands, in total contravention of legal provisions, to different entities. Now, around 2000 acres of land are in possession of the villagers whose forefathers had donated the land for HEC. Thus, logical implication of section 24 (2) of 2013 Act cannot be overlooked, though the state government seems to be unwilling to go by the provision of the new Act. A few villagers in the core capital land case, have already moved to Jharkhand High Court, pleading justice under section 24 (2) of 2013 Act. And hence, the setting up of the core capital on HEC vacant land is all set to be muddier in coming days.

SANTOSH KIRO

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