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Prabha Shukla v. State of U.P.

Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 – Ss. 11 & 19 (2) – Once a project of public importance, which is good in larger public interest, is being executed and has been completed about 45%, setting aside of acquisition in a petition filed by one of the land owners owning a small portion of the land, will not be in larger public interest.

It is not the stage where alignment of over-bridge can be changed which otherwise could not have been possible as the railway over-bridge will be connecting the existing roads on both the sides. Private interest has to give way to the larger public interest. Even if there are some small discrepancies in the process of acquisition, in our opinion in the facts of the present case, the acquisition does not deserve to be set aside as otherwise the project will be delayed which will cause loss to the State besides suffering to the residents of the area, who may be deprived of using the railway over-bridge on account of delayed completion of the project. In any case, the petitioner will be duly compensated for the land owned by her. For the reasons mentioned above, we do not find any merit in the present petition. The same is, accordingly, dismissed.

Projects of public importance should not be halted as the same would be against the larger public interest and the constitutional courts should weigh public interest vis-à-vis private interest, while exercising its discretion.

Whatever may have been the practices in the past, a time has come where the Courts should keep the larger public interest in mind while exercising their power of granting stay/injunction. The power under Article 226 is discretionary. It will be exercised only in furtherance of interests of justice and not merely on the making out of a legal point. And in the matter of land acquisition for public purposes, the interests of justice and the public interest coalesce.

The courts have to weigh the public interest vis-a-vis the private interest while exercising the power under Article 226 – indeed any of their discretionary powers. It may even be open to the High Court to direct, in case it finds finally that the acquisition was vitiated on account of non-compliance with some legal requirement that the persons interested shall also be entitled to a particular amount of damages to be awarded as a lump sum or calculated at a certain percentage of compensation payable. There are many ways of affording appropriate relief and redressing a wrong; quashing the acquisition proceeding is not the only mode of redress. To wit, it is ultimately a matter of balancing the competing interests.

Case Law Reference

  1. Nareshbhai Bhagubhai v. Union of India, (2019) 15 SCC 1
  2. Jaipur Metro Rail Corporation Ltd. v. Alok Kotahwala, AIR 2013 CC 754
  3. Usha Stud and Agricultural Farms Pvt. Ltd. v. State of Haryana, (2013) 4 SCC 210
  4. Kamal Trading Pvt. Ltd. v. State of West Bengal, (2012) 2 SCC 25
  5. Pratibha Nema v. State of M.P., AIR 2003 SC 3140
  6. Ramniklal N. Bhutta v. State of Maharashtra, AIR 1997 SC 1236

Case Number : WRIT (C) No. 18526 of 2021; January 05, 2022

Coram: HON’BLE RAJESH BINDAL, CHIEF JUSTICE HON’BLE PIYUSH AGRAWAL, JUDGE

Petitioner Through:- Mr. Udayan Nandan, Advocate. Respondents Through:- Mr. Suresh Singh, Additional Chief Standing Counsel for respondents no. 1, 3 and 5, Mr. Pranjal Mehrotra, Advocate for respondents no. 2 and 4.

Case Link : https://pdf.caselaw.in/allahabad/2022/01/1131/

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