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Supreme Court issues notice over land acquisition for Srinagar Ring Road

Ziraat Times News Network

New Delhi, Sept 12: The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Jammu and Kashmir government over the land acquisition for the construction of the Srinagar Ring Road.

Petitioners told Ziraat Times that the notice was issued on Monday after a group of land owners from Wathoora district Budgam moved an appeal against the Jammu and Kashmir High Court order of November 16, 2022.

The High Court had directed the authorities to pass a fresh award in the case, but the assessment of the compensation was to be made as per the Jammu and Kashmir Land Acquisition Act, 1990, which has been repealed now post article 370 abrogation.

The government also did not adhere to the provisions of the High Court order and preferred to challenge it in the Supreme Court through an SLP, which is yet to be listed there, petitioners prayed.

The Supreme Court bench of Justice A.S. Bopana and Sanjay Kumar heard the counsel for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy and Srishti Agnihotri, Advocate on Record (AOR), in the case of Special Leave Petition (SLP) titled Gulzar Ahmad Akhoon and others v/s Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir and others.

The SC bench in its order condoned the delay in filing the SLP and issued notice to the respondents (Government of Jammu and Kashmir and others). The counsel for the petitioners, Senior Advocate Anitha Shenoy, requested that the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) be impleaded as a party in the case and the SC bench allowed the same.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court had on November 16, 2022, directed the Collector Land Acquisition, Budgam to pass a fresh award in Wathoora as the petitioners had challenged the award passed in 2021 at a time when the central land acquisition law was already extended to Jammu and Kashmir.

The aggrieved petitioners had demanded that the award passed by the Collector Land Acquisition, Budgam, has lapsed due to efflux of time as the government is supposed to pass an award within two years from the date of issuance of notification under Section 6 of the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir Land Acquisition Act, 1990.

The High Court in its order dated November 16, 2022, had said, “The Collector Land Acquisition shall pass a fresh award qua the petitioners only and for that purpose shall construe 11th August, 2020 (date of final award) as the relevant date for determination of market value but shall apply the yardsticks for assessment of compensation provided under the 1990 Act in respect of acquired land of the petitioners only. The Collector shall calculate other statutory benefits on such amounts including interest to be calculated and determined by taking into consideration the date of taking over possession i.e. 13th March, 2018.”

The petitioners, however, were not satisfied with the High Court order and challenged it in the Supreme Court.

“We want to get the benefits of the central land acquisition law which was extended to Jammu and Kashmir with effect from October 31, 2019, but the government forcibly took our land under the old and outdated law in 2020,” said Gulzar Ahmad Akhoon, one of the petitioners.

The counsel for the petitioners have pleaded before the Supreme Court that the land which was acquired in Wathoora has a market value of Rs 1 crore per kanal and the aggrieved petitioners are supposed to get four times more compensation under the Central Act (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013), which amounts to approximately Rs 4 crore per kanal, but the government gave them mere Rs 38 lakhs plus 15% solatium (jabirana).

The Supreme Court will now hear the matter further.

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