HC quashes use of emergency powers for Dadri land acquisition

The UP government would now have to invite objections from farmers, who have the option of either returning the money to reclaim their land or forfeiting any claim

The Allahabad High Court on Friday quashed the Uttar Pradesh government\'s notification for use of emergency powers to acquire land for Reliance Natural Resources Ltd’s (RNRL) Dadri power project, side-stepping a provision for inviting objections from landowners, reports PTI.

The state government would now have to invite objections from farmers, who have the option of either returning the money to reclaim the land or forfeiting any claim.

However, the agitating farmers and RNRL gave different interpretations of the order. Anil Ambani group official JP Chalasani contended that land acquisition for the Dadri project has not been set aside as claimed by the other side.

Passing the order, a division bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhusan and Justice Sudhir Aggrawala said that all "subsequent proceedings consequent to the notification of 11 February 2004, including the notification under Section 6 of 25 June 2004 are quashed".

"The Collector (of Gautam Buddh Nagar, where the Dadri village is situated) shall issue notice in newspapers having wide circulation by not giving less than 30 days\' period for filing of objections", the court said.

The court held that the notification dated 11 February 2004 is "partly quashed" since it invoked emergency powers under Section 17(1) and 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act meant for public purpose.

Besides, the state, which acquired over 2,000 acres of land, had bypassed Section 5A, which provides for inviting objections from the landowners.

"The petitioners (landowners) are liable to refund the compensation received from the respondents", the court said.

"However, it will be open to those who have no objection to the acquisition to indicate so, and in that event they may seek exemption from the Collector from refunding the compensation", the court added.

The court also made it clear that the Collector shall take into account only objections of those who have returned the money.

The 7,800MW project, land for which was acquired by the Mulayam Singh Yadav government in 2004, has become a bone of contention between the Ambani brothers, Mukesh and Anil, who are involved in a bitter legal battle in the Supreme Court over supply of natural gas.

The Anil Ambani group has charged Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) of reneging on its commitment to supply gas, which it claimed had rendered the project non-bankable.

RIL, on the other hand, had argued in the apex court that the project was not on the ground and hence, the gas could not be supplied.

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