In a setback for the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh , the Supreme Court on Monday raised serious reservations over the state administration’s invocation of ’emergency powers’ to acquire land for real estate developers in Greater Noida. The apex court, which said this exercise of power was unacceptable, told the government that it could not remain a mute spectator to the possibility of Nandigram-like situations.
“We will not keep our eyes closed. You (the UP government) take it (agricultural land) from one side and give it to the other. This has to go and if it does not go, this court will step in to ensure that. It is development of one section of the society only,” said a Bench comprising Justice P Sathasivam and Justice AK Patnaik.
The court made its observations when the appeal of the state government challenging the Allahabad High Court order came up for hearing. The HC had quashed the state government’s notification acquiring agricultural land in Greater Noida invoking the emergency clause of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
The state government had invoked emergency powers under Section 17 (1) of the Land Acquisition Act, which dispenses with the right of the landowner to be heard by the agency acquiring land. The authorities had maintained that the land was needed on an urgent basis for planned industrial development.
‘Acquire Barren Land’
The Allahabad High Court had, however, held that invoking Section 17 (1) of the Act was “illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and was in colourable exercise of power”. The apex court, which was hearing the state’s petition against the HC order, said it would not like a situation similar to Nandigram in West Bengal, where such steps to acquire land by invoking emergency clause led to large-scale protests and violence.
“Whose residential use are these flats for? Who is building them? What are the prices? We want to go into details of the case. This emergency clause is not automatically invoked… We do not want more Nandigrams in all states,” the Bench remarked.
The Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority’s counsel, however, told the Bench that the acquisition of such land was part of its ‘well-known’ 2021 plan, called the Industrial Development Plan. It is a generic term which includes both commercial and residential uses, said the counsel. At this, the Bench asked whether the authority had made any effort to find alternative non-agricultural land for the purpose. Economic Times