Supreme Court Ruling Exposes Surat APMC's Land Misuse Scandal
Moneylife Digital Team 22 April 2024
The recent revelation of a scandal involving the misappropriation of land designated for farmers' welfare has ignited a wave of public indignation. Back in the 1960s, the agriculture produce marketing committee (APMC) of Surat (Gujarat), had been granted land by the state government with the explicit intention of benefiting farmers. However, a shocking discovery emerged: instead of fulfilling its intended purpose, the land was unlawfully utilised to erect a mall and a five-star hotel.
 
This prompted legal action, escalating from the Gujarat High Court to the hallowed chambers of the Supreme Court. Led by chief justice DY Chandrachud and justice JB Pardiwala, the Supreme Court vehemently censured the actions of the Surat APMC, branding it a 'scam' for its illicit diversion of the land. The Court cast doubt on the legality of the APMC's decision to exploit surplus land for commercial ventures.
 
In response, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Surat APMC, contended that the committee was entitled to exploit its land for revenue generation. However, the Supreme Court summarily dismissed this contention, affirming the Gujarat High Court's ruling to repossess the land and assets of the APMC.
 
In the wake of the Gujarat High Court's Judgement on March 27, the state was instructed to seize control of the APMC's five-star hotel and conduct a public auction of the property. 
 
Furthermore, the Court mandated punitive measures against officials and APMC members culpable for the hotel's construction. Additionally, it decreed the cessation of all non-agricultural activities within the mall situated on the APMC's premises.
 
The Supreme Court's stance resonated widely, finding corroboration in the December 2019 report of the parliamentary standing committee on agriculture. This report scathingly criticised the management of APMCs across India, excluding those in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab, and highlighted their detrimental impact on farmers' interests. It advocated for sweeping reforms in the APMC Act throughout the country.
 
The HC bench of CJ Sunita Agarwal and Aniruddha Mayee in March had ordered the state to take possession of APMC’s five-star hotel constructed on the market yard’s land.
Comments
C V MANIAN
4 weeks ago
Let us wait for the "Action Taken Report". Nothing happens when the Government are in cahoots with private developers.
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