Land Compensation Case: J&K Govt Slapped Fine For ‘Dragging’ Litigation

J&K High Court | File Photo

Srinagar- In a landmark judgment, the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh had imposed a fine of rupees 10 lakh on the Union Territory administration for 'unnecessarily' dragging a litigation against a land compensation case that had hampered timely compensation to the beneficiaries.

A division bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mittal and Justice Sanjay Dhar on Tuesday heard the case OWP No. 2084 of 2018 and ruled that it is an alarming situation that the state is acquiring private land without payment of full compensation.

“This kind of action or omission on the part of the state authorities is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue for an indefinite period.” The division bench observed.

Notably, the petitioners in the case are the residents of village Kanli Bagh, Baramulla who had invoked a writ in J&K High Court for the quashing of the entire acquisition proceedings in respect of about 150 kanals and 03 marlas of the land which was notified for acquisition for the public purpose of establishing a Housing Colony at Sangri in Baramulla by the Government.

The petitioners—villagers of Kanli bagh village—had also alleged that only a tentative award was made on March, 17, 1998 but however they were being denied compensation to their land as the Government kept on unnecessarily dragging the litigation in the case.

The court observed that the right to possess and occupy land/property used to be a fundamental right and is still a constitutional right akin to a fundamental right. It has been recognized even as a basic human right. “In view of Article 300 A of the Constitution of India, no person can be deprived of his property otherwise by following the due process of law. Therefore, the non-payment of the compensation as provided under the statutes amounts to depriving the person of his right to the property.” the court said.

The court also said that there is no dispute to the fact that the land measuring 150 kanals and 03 marlas stands acquired and that its possession has been taken over and handed over to the indenting department decades ago but till date final award has not been passed.

“The Collector, Housing and Urban Development Department, as per the draft award has disbursed the amount of compensation to the extent of 75% in respect of the land measuring 85 kanals and 02 marlas but no payment of land measuring 22 kanals and 06 marlas of the propriety land and 42 kanals and 15 marlas of the State and Shamlat land has been made to anyone.” reads the court order, a copy of which lies with Kashmir Observer.

The division bench has further stated that the villagers as such have been deprived of the proper compensation of the acquired land which is clearly violative of the statutory provisions of the Land Acquisition Act and Article 300 A of the Constitution of India.

“It rather amounts to denial of the basic human right to the villagers for almost about forty years.” the division bench said.

The court further noted that this kind of action or omission on the part of the State authorities is not acceptable and cannot be allowed to continue for an indefinite period. The relief to grant rent ₹10,000/Kanal/year is also not admissible for the reason that under the Act petitioners are only entitled to only monetary compensation and not anything else.” recorded the court.

The court strictly noted that the writ petition is allowed with exemplary costs of Rs 10.00 lakhs for dragging the villagers in unnecessary litigation for decades and for depriving them of their property without adequately compensating them for such a long period.

The division bench also recorded that the Chief Secretary under whom all the departments of the State function, would take positive action in the matter and see to it that the award as directed is passed.

“Stiff action is taken against all those officers, who were involved and responsible for not allowing the award to be passed immediately after the tentative award had been prepared and announced.” observed the division bench.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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