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    J-K HC raps admin for constructing community hall without completing process of land acquisition


     J-K HC raps admin for constructing community hall without completing process of land acquisition

    JAMMU: Taking a serious note of government constructing a multi-purpose community hall without completing the process of land acquisition from its owners in Ramban district, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court has directed the authorities to complete the process within one month and provide additional compensation of Rs 10 lakh within two weeks to the aggrieved party.

    The division bench comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani observed that right to property or land is a constitutional right and no one can be deprived of his or her property without following the procedure prescribed in law and payment of adequate compensation.

    Hearing a petition filed by Krishan Singh and others through advocate Rajdeep Singh, the bench in his five-page order said it was crystal clear that the land of the petitioners has been utilised for the construction of a multi-purpose community hall but without there being a formal acquisition.

    “The hall stands constructed without acquisition of land and without payment of any compensation…they (respondents) accept that as against the estimated cost of acquisition of Rs 15 lakh, the indenting department has deposited a sum of Rs 4.50 lakh only but even that has not been distributed to the lawful owners of the land,” the order said.

    The petitioners claimed that they are residents of Batroo village in Pogal Paristan area of Ukhral and are owners of land measuring two kanals and three marlas (11706.8 square feet) with nine walnut trees which was utilised by the government in the year 2012-13 for the construction of multi-purpose community hall without any lawful authority.

    “The land was not acquired and no consent of the petitioners was taken to use it. The petitioners were not even paid any compensation,” the petitioners alleged, adding initially the government took over 5989.51 square feet with two walnut trees but subsequently, the assistant commissioner (revenue), Ramban, submitted a report seeking the entire land with all nine walnut trees.

    Accordingly, a notification under Section 4 of the State Land Acquisition Act was issued on January 9, 2018, notifying the proposal to acquire the land for the construction of community hall in Dhanmasta-Batroo village.

    “Right to property/land used to be a fundamental right but now it has been recognised as a constitutional right vide Article 300A of the Constitution of India. It provides that no one can be deprived of his property.

    “The constitutional right has been acknowledged to be akin to a fundamental right and more importantly a basic human right. Thus, no one can be deprived of his property without following the procedure prescribed in law and payment of adequate compensation,” the order said.

    It said the proceedings for acquisition of any land commences with the issuance of notification under Section 4 of the Act proposing to acquire the land for public purpose.

    “Once the Government is satisfied on consideration of the report of the Collector that the land needed for public purpose, it directs for issuance of a declaration under Section 6 of the Act. Such a declaration is the conclusive proof of the acquisition of the land,” the order said.

    In the case at hand, till date no declaration under Section 6 of the Act has been issued and published, meaning thereby that the land has not been finally acquired and there is simply a proposal to acquire the said land, it said.

    “The action of the respondents in constructing a community hall on the land in question without waiting for the final acquisition of land and in the absence of the invocation of the urgency clause, is nothing but an abuse of the process of law depriving the petitioners from their valuable right to possess property,” the order said.

    The court said since the community hall has already been constructed and the land cannot be restored to the petitioners, it is desirable that the respondents complete the acquisition proceedings at the earliest and make a final award so that the petitioners may be compensated in a fair manner as per the market-value of the land.

    “In view of the facts and circumstances, we issue a writ in the nature of mandamus commanding the respondents to forthwith distribute the estimated cost of acquisition of the aforesaid land within a period of one month, conclude the acquisition proceedings and pronounce the final award within a period of three months.

    “A further writ in the nature of mandamus is issued to the respondents to pay a token compensation of Rs 10,00,000 to the petitioners for illegally depriving them of their land without any authority of law and thus violating their human rights. This amount shall be paid to the petitioners within a period of two weeks,” the court said.–(PTI)

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