Allahabad, July 26: All petitions challenging land acquisition by UP government in Noida and Greater Noida areas were today referred to the Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court by a division bench with the request that a larger bench be constituted to decide the matter.
Hearing petitions of hundreds of farmers from nearly a dozen villages of Gautam Buddh Nagar, who had challenged acquisition of more than 3,000 hectares of land by the state government, a bench comprising justices Amitava Lala and Ashok Srivastava also gave an option to them to reach an out-of-court settlement by August 12.
The court refrained from passing any order on the applications of investors, who had moved the court under the banner of “Noida Extension Flat Buyers' Welfare Association”, as well as builders, all of whom had made a request for being made parties in the case.
The court while referring the matter to the Chief Justice, fixed August 17 as the next date of hearing and also said that those petitioners who wished to approach the concerned authorities with their grievances and reach an out-of-court settlement could do so by August 12.
However, the court said that those who choose to arrive at any agreement with the authorities during this period would have to inform the court about the same on the next date of hearing with full details about the relief that they have agreed to, be it higher compensation or return of the acquired land.
Earlier in the day, another division bench had recused itself from hearing a petition filed by farmers of Deola village in Gautam Buddh Nagar district, who had moved the court challenging acquisition of 107 hectares of land belonging to them.
The bench comprising justices R K Agrawal Sunil Hali had released the matter from its jurisidiction and referred the matter to the Chief Justice with the request that the petitions be placed before an “appropriate” bench. All the petitions are now likely to be heard together by a larger bench of the court on August 17.
Today's hearing commenced with a number of farmers from Patwari village seeking relief in the light of a July 19 court order whereby acquisition of 589 hectares of land in the same village had been quashed.
The petitioners had contended that since an order had already been passed in favour of other farmers from their village who had moved the court earlier, they too be granted similar relief as their land had been acquired by the state government in a similar fashion.
The farmers' plea was opposed by builders involved in housing projects in Noida Extension area, who contended that orders quashing the land acquisitions were affecting them as well as those who had invested their earnings, without any fault on their part.
The builders' submission was strongly opposed by the farmers who submitted that in the course of hearing on the petitions relating to Patwari, the state government had “deliberately concealed the fact from the court that the acquired land has been given away to builders, and therefore the builders must not be given any benefit of doubt”.
The court said both the farmers as well as the builders could place their grievances before the larger bench constituted by the Chief Justice for hearing matters relating to land acquisitions in Noida and Greater Noida.
The court also told the builders that they could, if they wished, move the Supreme Court with their grievances regarding the High Court order of July 19.
Acquisition of more than 3000 hectares of land, spread across nearly a dozen villages, has been challenged by the petitioners who have alleged that their land was acquired by the state government by invoking “urgency clause” which had deprived them of an opportunity to raise objections as well as to bargain for a better compensation.
The fate of thousands of people, who have invested in housing projects in the Noida Extension area, as well as over a dozen real estate developers also hinges on the court verdict. PTI