In what may open a can of worms, the Supreme Court has ordered the Haryana government and Gurgaon collector to disclose each and every sale deed executed between landowners and private builders in respect of 1,400 acres of land in the district.
The 1,400-acre land is being used to develop urban residential and commercial Sectors 58 to 63 and Sectors 65 to 67 in Gurgaon (see map).
A bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra demanded an explanation from the authorities as to how and to whom the huge chunk of land, which was initially proposed to be acquired for public purposes, was eventually given.
It asked the Gurgaon collector to file an affidavit, furnishing the list of such agreements between the landowners and private entities, along with all other requisite details.
The bench further made it clear: “The collector, Gurgaon, is being specifically informed that in case he omits to mention the details of any such coloniser or builder, he shall be personally responsible and it shall not be open to him to state that complete information was not furnished to him by his subordinates.”
The bench, during the hearing of an appeal by the Haryana government against a High Court order, questioned the manner in which the entire episode of proposed acquisition and final notification took place.
The state government, invoking the power of eminent domain, had issued notification with a proposal to acquire 1,400 acres of land for developing several residential and commercial sectors in Gurgaon by the Haryana Urban Development Authority. The land sought to be acquired were in villages namely Badshapur, Behrampur, Nangli Umarpura, Tigra, Ullahwas, Kadarpur, Ghatta and Medawas in Sohna tehsil.
Panicked by the realm of acquisition, plenty of people sold their land to private builders and colonisers, fearing they may lose their lands for peanuts. However, no sooner did such agreements took place, the land proposed or declared for acquisition was released in favour of the builder companies and individuals.
Noting the facts, the bench sought to ascertain if the private builders were the real beneficiaries of the entire exercise undertaken by the state government. Jasbir Singh Malik, counsel for one of the land owners, had cited the High Court order, severely indicting the Haryana government over the row.
Adjudicating a bunch of petitions by the land owners, the High Court had held: “The ulterior object behind acquiring land for public utilities is to enable the private builders in exploiting commercially every inch of their own land and maximising their profits. The state machinery has bent over backwards to favour the private colonisers.”
It had said: “There can be no other inference but to hold that powers under the Act have been misused to benefit the private builders and other affluent individuals, who meanwhile purchased the land from original owners.
The manner in which the impugned acquisition commenced with a proposal to acquire over 1,400 acres of land but culminated into the acquisition of 87 acres of land testifies that the very object of the subject acquisition was meant to achieve extraneous and alien considerations.”