M A I N   N E W S

Acquisition of farmland for industry
Purchase directly from farmers: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 6
State action of forcibly acquiring agricultural land for setting up industries has failed to find favour with the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The high court has made it clear that entrepreneurs interested in establishing units on “particular” chunks of land “must” hold negotiations with farmers. It has also held that the provision of law entitling the state to acquire farmers’ land for setting up industries was not “comprehensible”.

The ruling by Justice Ranjit Singh comes at a time when displacement of livelihood is a matter of mounting concern, and farmers nationwide have been protesting against the forcible acquisition of land for setting up special economic zones and other industries.

It is in sync with the thought process of Nobel laureates Dr Amartya Sen and Prof Mohammed Yunus. Only last year, they had expressed their disapproval of forcible acquisition of land for industries, stressing that land owners be negotiated with and persuaded to surrender their land to the state for industrial development, willingly.

Justice Ranjit Singh, in his six-page ruling on a petition filed by The Improvement Trust, Khanna, against the enhancement of compensation, has held: “Agreed that the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act may have justification, keeping in mind the welfare activities of the state, and it being in the good of public at large, but some thought is required to be spared for a farmer, who is made to part with his land compulsorily, which is Mother Land for him….

“One may even question as to why there should be compulsion in acquiring somebody’s property. There may be a justification for the action of the state or the trust in acquiring property for planned development on a no-profit-no-loss basis, but the provisions entitling the state to acquire farmers’ land for setting up industries would really not be comprehensible.

“If any industrialist wants to set up an industry and is interested in a particular land, this must be by negotiations with the farmers, and on his agreeing to sell rather than by a compulsory acquisition.”

Justice Ranjit Singh added: “Not only the land is acquired, but also the farmer is left high and dry to make rounds of the court, starting from the acquisition collector. He is made to repeat his rounds even after the settlement of the rates about compensation, while seeking to realise the same. By the time he gets the amount, the value of the money depreciates. He, thus, loses land and is unable to get anything. He is ruined literally.”

Referring to the case in hand, Justice Ranjit Singh observed: “The present revision petition (filed by the Trust) reflects the usual story of plight of a poor farmer, who loses his land due to acquisition by organisation like the Improvement Trust, and then is made to fight in the courts for getting adequate or proper compensation for such land.”

The Judge further observed: “The land of Jagjit Singh and others was acquired by the trust on September 14, 1973. Then followed their rounds to the court, which include the Supreme Court. At every stage, the trust resisted the efforts on the part of the respondents to have a proper and adequate compensation for their land, which was compulsorily acquired.”

Before parting with the orders, the Judge held: “The executing court has rightly found the sum, which is due and payable by the petitioner trust to the respondents. The attitude of the trust in filing one litigation after another to avoid payment, which is due, cannot be appreciated. I do not find any infirmity in the impugned order (on the enhancement of compensation). I would, thus, dismiss this revision petition with costs of Rs10,000.”



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