In what was seen as a major judgement which could have larger implications on land deal issues in the state of Haryana, the Supreme Court on Monday set aside the decision of the former Congress government led by Bhupinder Singh Hooda to drop the land acquisition proceedings for about 600 acres of Manesar land.
Manesar land released from acquisition by the Hooda governement and on which licenses were given to builders will now vest in HUDA/HSIDC. All licences granted in respect of lands covered by the deemed award of August 26, 2007 will stand transferred to Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC).
The builders who had purchased the land from farmers later approached the government for licence to build housing societies and they were subsequently granted the approvals. The record indicates that various entities including certain "middlemen" cornered unnatural gains and walked away with huge profits taking the entire process of acquisition for a ride... The SC quoted the CBI's report, which said, "Some politicians who were also important functionaries of state government, government officers and their agents caused a wrongful loss of Rs 1,500 crore to land owners of Manesar, Naurangpur and Lakhounla and corresponding gains to themselves". "Buyers from whom money was collected by builders will either be entitled to refunds or plots/apartments", the order said.
"The transactions so entered into between the landholders and the concerned builders/ private entities could not be said to be voluntary and free from any influence". "The unnatural and unreasonable bargain was forced upon the landholders by creating façade of impending acquisition".
The top court said that the public interest was not the underlying concern or objective behind those decisions dated August 24, 2007 and January 29, 2010 but the motive was to confer undue advantage on the builders/private entities.
Indicting the then government, the order said "in our considered view the decisions dated 24.08.2007 and 29.01.2010 were taken to confer advantages and benefits upon the builders/private entities rather than to carry out or effectuate public objective. These decisions were nothing but fraud on power", it said.
The apex court passed slew of directions granting relief to the farmers whose land were acquired and later taken by the builders.