Chandigarh, August 22
Making it clear that public interest will prevail over personal, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has imposed Rs 1 lakh costs on a landowner after observing that his focus on individualistic interest was required to be deprecated.
He was seeking directions to the Union of India and other authorities concerned against taking possession of his land, even though it had the potential to alleviate the traffic issues on the Ambala-Zirakpur section of the national highway.
The Bench of Justice Sureshwar Thakur and Justice Kuldeep Tiwari was told that an expert body had identified more than 30 black spots on the Ambala-Zirakpur section. A perusal of the photographs on record made it graphically clear that the process of constructing flyovers was at an advanced stage. Seven out of eight pillars had already been constructed. But there was an impediment to the construction of the remaining pillar owing to the non-execution of service lane work following the non-handing over of the “acquired lands” by the petitioner.
“Therefore, the retention of possession by the petitioner of the lawfully acquired lands, rather, is unlawful, and, therefore the possession is required to be delivered by the petitioner to the respondents concerned in terms of the demarcation report…,” the Bench observed.
The Bench also observed the photographs also made it evident that traffic jams and snarl-ups on the relevant section of the national highway was obviously owing to the contentious non-acquired “khasra number” belonging to the petitioner, though its acquisition was essential for de-clogging the congestion. As such, “precedence” was required to be assigned to public interest, than the petitioner’s individual interest.
The NHAI was represented by advocates RS Madaan, Mahender Joshi and Nanvi Gupta. The Bench asserted it was essential to highlight the petitioner’s gross apathy and insensitivity to the demands of public interest, necessitating the acquisition of his lands. There was tangible evidence that the relevant sections of the national highway had caused inconvenience to the public due to regular traffic snarl-ups and congestions. Yet the petitioner not only obstructed the handing over of lawfully acquired parcels of land to the respondents concerned but also resisted the acquisition of contentious khasra number, which could potentially alleviate the traffic issues.
“The lack of apathy of the petitioner to the larger public interest, rather his focusing on his individualistic interest, is required to be deprecated.
Therefore, the petition is dismissed with costs of Rs 1 lakh to be forthwith deposited in the Poor Patient Fund of the PGIMER, Chandigarh,” the Bench observed.
While the court refrained from assessing mesne profits against the petitioner for utilising the lawfully acquired lands, it underlined the importance of prioritising public welfare over personal gain.
The ruling is significant as it reflects a judicial stance that upholds the significance of public interest and condemns any actions that hinder its pursuit.
What court observed
The Bench observed the photographs also made it evident that traffic jams and snarl-ups on the Ambala-Zirakpur section of the national highway was obviously owing to the contentious non-acquired “khasra number” belonging to the petitioner, though its acquisition was essential for de-clogging the congestion. As such, “precedence” was required to be assigned to public interest, than the petitioner’s individual interest.
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