February 9, 2016 2:48:27 am
IT TOOK more than a decade for the UT Administration to realise that they require a mandatory approval from the UT Administrator to complete the acquisition proceedings. More than 12 years after acquiring land at Kishangarh for developing Phase II of the Rajiv Gandhi Chandigarh Technology Park (RGCTP), the UT Administration has now ratified the acquisition proceedings by taking mandatory approval from the UT Administrator — the approval came last month.
In 2004, the UT Administration had acquired 216 acres of land for planned development and expansion of Phase II of the RGCTP. Around three acres of land was acquired for construction of link road for the purpose of IT park. In both the cases, two different notifications were issued in 2003. However, none of these acquisitions had written approval of the then UT Administrator. Rather the acquisitions were carried out on the approval of the then UT Adviser.
In 2012, another acquisition of land measuring 272 acres done by the UT Administration for Phase III of RGCTP was quashed by the Supreme Court on similar grounds. In 2013, the Supreme Court again quashed another acquisition of 55 acres of land made by the UT Administrator for Phase II of RGCTP on the grounds of lack of competence of the UT Adviser to issue such notifications.
Following that, six owners of land measuring 45 acres out of the 216 acres acquired for Phase II of RGCTP approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. They demanded that acquisition of the 216 acres of land should also be set aside on the grounds that the notifications for acquisitions were not approved by the competent authority (UT Administrator in this case) and thus were in violation of Article 239 (1) of the Constitution. The petitioners added that the UT Adviser was not competent to give sanction/approval on behalf of the administrator.
In the ongoing case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court filed by the six landowners, Chandigarh’s Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) submitted a reply on January 18. The LAO apprised the High Court that permission for the acquisition of 216 acre land had been taken from the UT Administrator on December 7, 2015.
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The LAO’s reply read, “Chandigarh administration in furtherance of its earlier action has ratified the present acquisition proceedings whereby the UT administrator has approved and sanctioned the entire acquisition process on December 7, 2015, beginning from the issuance of notification under Section 4 till passing of Award dated March 29, 2004 under Section 11 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1984. Thus, there is no legal infirmity in granting and to accord approval to the present acquisition by the Administrator.”
Talking to Chandigarh Newsline, LAO Prince Dhawan said, “There was a procedural issue and it has been rectified. We have gone for post facto ratification and there is no legal infirmity.”
The UT Administration has urged the High Court for dismissing the petition on the grounds of delay as the same has been filed after the announcement of the award and the landowners have no right on the land because they had also accepted the compensation money.
However, even after the LAO’s explanation, the High Court’s bench, headed by Justice Hemant Gupta, on February 4 ordered the UT Administration to maintain the status quo on the possession of land. The case is next listed for hearing on July 13.
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