RIL challenges Land acquisition law

From ET Realty

AHMEDABAD: Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has filed a petition in Gujarat high court questioning provisions of the 2013 land acquisition laws by which the acquisition is rendered void if the state government fails to pay compensation and take possession of the acquired land within five years.

RIL’s questioning the provisions of section 24(2) of the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 came last month after 12 farmers from five villages in Jamnagar approached the Gujarat high court in 2014, seeking that the court declare the acquisition of their land as lapsed. Some 11,235 acres, of five villages in Jamnagar -Navagam, Kanalus, Kanachhikari, Padana and Derachhikari -was acquired in 2008 by the state government for RIL.

The farmers’ counsel Anand Yagnik said that the provisions of the new land acquisition law as well as the 1984 law clearly say that since the state government neither took possession of the land nor paid the award that was decided in 2008 for more than five years it should be declared as lapsed. This litigation was pending for more than a year. In June last year, a bench headed by former Acting Chief Justice V M Sahai recused itself from the case, saying that something had taken place in this case that had shaken the judges’ confidence.

Before the matter came up for final hearing, RIL came up with a separate petition challenging the provisions of the land acquisition law by which the right of the acquired land vested with the company is taken away maintaining that the law cannot be made applicable with retrospective effect. The company also claimed that the legislation has an element of arbitrariness and that it is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution.Hence, the provisions of the 2013 law should be scrapped.

Against the company’s challenge to vires of the law, the farmers came up with one more application and urged the court on Monday to hear them before deciding on the company’s petition. They contended that non-utilization of land goes against the company and the state government so far as the land acquisition process is concerned.

After allowing the farmers to join the litigation, a bench of Acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and V M Pancholi has scheduled a further hearing on this subject for January 11.

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