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SC notice to Govt on land acquisition

 SC notice to Govt on land acquisition.

Excelsior Correspondent

SRINAGAR, Sept 12: The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir Government in an appeal challenging the verdict of High Court by the land owners whereby compensation for their land acquisition for the purpose of Semi Ring Road Project was directed to be assessed under old Land Acquisition Act.

The Supreme Court of Justice A S Bopana and Justice Sanjay Kumar condoned the delay as caused in filing of SLP by the aggrieved land owners and also issued notice to the J&K Government for reply.

The land owners from Wathoora district Budgam had moved an appeal (SLP) against the Division Bench judgment dated 16.11.2022 wherein the court had directed the authorities to pass fresh award in Srinagar Ring Road construction case, as per the assessment of the compensation under J&K Land Acquisition Act 1990.

The residents of village Dharmunah and Wathoora Budgam were aggrieved of the communication of the Financial Commissioner, Revenue, bearing no. FC-LS/LA-4577/2017 dated 13.08.2020 whereby the Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir has been conveyed the approval of the competent authority to the adoption of rates of compensation in respect of different villages in District Budgam for construction of Semi Ring Road around Srinagar City.

The land owners in these two villages claimed a direction to the respondent-authorities to initiate fresh land acquisition proceedings in respect of the land strictly as per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition , Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 as the same applies to their case after abrogation of Article 370 on August 5 2019.

Their case before the court was that the acquisition proceedings initiated in terms of Notification dated 26.08.2017 issued under Section 4 of the J&K Land Acquisition Act, 1990 have lapsed by afflux of time in view of the provisions contained in Section 11(B) of the 1990 Act.

They submitted that in 2017, the authority concerned initiated process of acquisition of land in their villages and, accordingly, issued Notification under Section 4 of the 1990 Act vide its Notification no. DCB/LAS/016/F-330/2535-42 dated 26.08.2017 which was subsequently followed by Notifications under Section 6 and 7 of the 1990 Act.

The Notifications were in respect of land measuring 316 Kanals and 23 sqfts in village Darmunah and a huge chunk of land in village Wathoora. The villagers are aggrieved that though their land was sought to be acquired in 2017 and Notification under Section 6 was issued on 22.12.2017, no further steps were taken to assess the compensation and pass final award within the stipulated period.

It was added that neither the authorities adopted the mode of private negotiation for adoption of rates nor did they follow the law of acquisition while acquiring the land in question for constructing the Semi Ring Road.

The Division Bench has held that the land acquisition proceedings in the instant cases would lapse on 22.12.2019 on account of failure of the Collector to pass final award within a period of two years from the date of issuance of Section 6 declaration and that invocation of Section 17 by the Government is of no consequence in view of the failure of the Collector to adhere to Section 17-A, the passing of the final award on 11th August, 2020 cannot jettison the consequences.

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