Acquisition of land in yet another village of Gautam Buddh Nagar district of Uttar Pradesh was today set aside by the Allahabad High Court.
A Division Bench comprising justices Sunil Ambwani and Aditya Nath Mittal while asking the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) to "return the land" in Surajpur village under Dadri Pargana of the district to the petitioners, also ruled that they shall be "entitled to receive Rs 25,000 each as costs of litigation".
The court quashed the notifications whereby a total of 6.93 hectares (about 17 acres) of land had been acquired during the previous Samajwadi Party government in the state for industrial development.
The order was passed on two writ petitions filed by Bunda and other residents of Surajpur and by M/s Saraswati Builders that had purchased land in the village back in 1989 and carried out substantial construction work there.
The petitioners altogether owned nearly 3 hectares (7.5 acres) of the acquired land.
According to the petitioners' counsel Pankaj Dubey, "This order enables other tenure holders in the village, who could not approach the court, to get their land back by moving an application before the concerned authorities subject to the return of any compensation accepted by them so far".
The court noted that the acquisition of land was effected by invoking the urgency clause, which armed the GNIDA with "powers to dispense with enquiries under Section 5-A purportedly for industrial development" and that the same were "exercised mechanically, arbitrarily and with mala fide purposes".
"The entire acquisition of land in the present case was for oblique purpose as major portion of the area was covered with water, recorded as pond, and was used for fishing", the court remarked.
The court also observed, "the respondents have now in the counter-affidavit pleaded and proposed to maintain only water body, aqua park and children's park which was not the purpose for which the land was sought to be acquired".
In the past one year, acquisition of hundreds of hectares of land in a number of villages in the district - mostly during the Mayawati regime of 2007-2012 - has been quashed by the High Court.