A day after the Supreme Court embarrassed the Centre for its failure to act against those who stashed black money abroad, the apex court on Tuesday assailed states for taking advantage of the “colonial legislation” on land acquisition to “grab” poor farmers’ land in the name of development.
It lashed out at growing incidents of land acquisition that were not meant for any public purpose. “This is a sinister campaign initiated by several state governments against the people. It is forcing them (land owners) to become slum dwellers or take to crime,” the bench said.
Taking a dig at the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh, the bench observed: “When people protest against acquisition of their land, men are arrested and women raped.”
The observation was made while the court refused to stay the implementation of the Allahabad high court verdict that quashed the Noida Authority’s land acquisition notification of 156.3 hectares in Shahberi village, part of what is popularly known as Noida Extension.
The bench will hear the matter next on Wednesday.
The court’s trenchant observations against the existing land acquisition policy came during the hearing of a batch of appeals by the Noida Authority and several builders who had challenged the high court judgment.
The authority had invoked an emergency clause to acquire the land to allocate it builders to develop residential buildings. The clause bars landowners from filing objections to the acquisition, prompting the high court to declare it a colourable exercise not used for a public purpose as land was later sold to builders at high rates.
The apex court snubbed the authority for “abusing” the emergency clause of the Land Acquisition Act to cover up its inefficiencies. “You invoke the emergency clause when you want to acquire, but take years to compensate the poor farmer,” the bench said.