Land Acquisition Issue:Individual Interest Must Yield to Larger Public Interest,Says HC

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Srinagar: Once the government decides acquisition of a particular land for larger public interest, individual or smaller public interest must yield to it, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court said while dismissing a plea by a woman whose land comes in the widening of a road stretch from Habba Kadal Kral Khud to Baba Dharam Das Road here.

“It is for the government to decide that a particular acquisition was required for public purpose and once the government arrives at such a conclusion it would be a conclusive proof about the purpose. The other principle that has been ingrained is that if a project is beneficial for the larger public, inconvenience to smaller number of people is to be accepted. It has to be respectfully accepted as a proposition of law that individual interest or, for that matter, smaller public interest must yield to the larger public interest. Inconvenience of some should be bypassed for a larger interest or cause of the society,” a single bench of the court said while dismissing the petition by the woman—Mst. Hajra.

For acquisition of the land, the authorities had issued a notification under J&K Land Acquisition Act, Svt.1990 in a newspaper on 22 April 2001, inviting objections from the people.

Last the concerned revenue authorities on 7 January 2003 sent a communication to Financial Commissioner (Revenue), informing him about the settlement and eventually urging him to issue a declaration under Section 6 and 7 of the Act.

Counsel representing Hajra had contended that the authorities by various communications decided not to acquire the land and as such urged the court to cancel the award as Section 11-B of the Land Acquisition Act makes it clear that the same is valid only for two years from the date of publication of declaration and therefore, issuing notice for acquisition of the land after more than a decade from the date of the award was not just.

On the contrary, the government raised preliminary objections as regards maintainability of the Hajra’s petition by contending that land measuring 715-Sqft owned by her has been acquired by authorities strictly in accordance with Land Acquisition Act and final award has been passed by Collector, Land Acquisition. She, if not agreed to final award, has to avail of alternative and efficacious remedy as available under the Act. The government also contended that the final award was valid notwithstanding non-payment of compensation and possession of land lying with her. Delay in taking over possession of land, according to the government, was due to pendency of litigation before Municipal Magistrate, Srinagar.

“It is evident that any person, not interested to accept the award, shall approach the Court for its determination” the court of Justice Tashi Rabstan said.

“In the present case, relief sought for by (Hajra) is to (declare) Award dated 09.10.2006 as non-exist and ineffective and unsustainable in the eye of law. The petitioner is questioning Final Award and subsequent proceedings of execution of notice for vacation. The petition on hand is not maintainable in view of the remedy available under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act,” the court said and dismissed her appeal.

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