Right to fair compensation

Sep 18 2013, 03:37 IST
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SummaryQuashing the Allahabad High Court order that asked the UP government to return the land to Lakshmi Sugar and Oil Mills Ltd

Land takeover of sick sugar mills

Quashing the Allahabad High Court order that asked the UP government to return the land to Lakshmi Sugar and Oil Mills Ltd, the Supreme Court said that the land was used by the sugar mill for industrial purposes and not agricultural. In the case, State of UP vs M/s Lakshmi Sugar & Oil Mills Ltd, several sugar mills were making losses in the state.

UP had acquired 12 such private sugar mills including Lakshmi Sugar & Oil Mills (LSOM) after passing the UP Sugar Undertakings (Acquisition) Act. While the sugar factory stood vested in the state Sugar Corporation, set up to revive the sick units to protect cane growers, the Consolidation Officer recorded its name in place of LSOM in 1992. Lakshmi Sugar challenged the take-over of its land in Hardoi stating that its land was agricultural and therefore exempted from acquisition. The HC in April 2010 asked the government to return the land within a month. The government moved the Supreme Court, which held that the land had been treated as industrial for purposes of the Land Ceiling Act. The apex court said “there was no evidence on record to show that the subject land was ever held or occupied for agricultural purposes or that any agricultural activity was ever carried out on the same. These concurrent findings of fact, in our opinion, could not have been reversed by the HC.”

Compensation of land acquisition

Slamming the Maharashtra government for the inordinate delay in payment of compensation to a landowner whose land was acquired in 1981, the Supreme Court in the case of Tukaram Kana Joshi vs MIDC said that “statutory authorities are bound to not only pay adequate compensation but also rehabilitate displaced persons.” It said that denying compensation to farmers amounts to deprivation of livelihood, which is a violation of Article 21 of the Constitution. “Even under valid acquisition proceedings, there is a legal obligation on the part of the authorities to complete the proceedings at the earliest and to make payment of requisite compensation,” the top court said, while setting aside the Bombay High Court 2011 judgment which found fault with Joshi for not filing a claim petition, and directed the state to pay compensation to him at the prevailing market rate.

In this case, land was acquired from illiterate farmers by MIDC for an industrial development project. Some landowners were paid compensation. Meanwhile, the

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