R T Nagar: No early solution yet

Striking down the reference court and High Court’s judgment to increase the compensation to ` 13.49 lakh per acre to the farmers, whose land were acquired for the layout, the Supreme Court has held that both the courts committed a serious error in relying upon a previous court judgment of 2006 relating to Maragowdanahalli, to determine the market value of lands at Kergalli.

The apex court has remanded or transferred the case to the reference court to decide the matter giving due opportunities to both parties - MUDA and ryots who filed petition for extra compensation.

Observing that it was not possible for them to determine the market value of land in Kergalli in absence of any acceptable evidence, a three-judge bench comprising, justice R V Raveendran, Justice Sathasivam and Justice A K Patnaik said the bench allows the appeal of MUDA and set aside the judgment of the High Court and the reference court and remand the matter to the lower court, which should decide the matter afresh, giving due opportunities to both parties to produce further evidence regarding market value.

The MUDA has already formed a layout and the plots are ready for allotment and any delay in determining compensation will affect determination of allotment price of plots. Therefore, there is some urgency in the matter. The reference court could dispose of the matter expeditiously, preferably within four months from Jan 27, 2011, the bench said.
The allotment of R T Nagar sites landed in a legal quagmire, when a farmer moved court seeking compensation higher than ` 1.55 lakh, originally fixed by MUDA in 2003
preliminary notification. A local court, in its judgment dated April 17, 2008, had increased the compensation to ` 13.49 lakh per acre. It also awarded 30 per cent solatium, 12 per cent additional amount from date of preliminary notification to date of award and interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum for one year from 2003.

The MUDA appealed before the High court challenging the lower court order. However, the HC confirmed the award of the reference court by way of impugned judgment dated Oct 21, 2008 following which the urban body filed a special leave petition seeking apex court’s intervention.

The appellant MUDA argued in the SC that ` 13.49 lakh per acre was excessive, erroneous and not based on any evidence and interest could be awarded only from date of taking possession.

The reference court and HC had increased compensation relying upon a March 16, 2006 judgment with regard to acquisition of certain lands situated at Maragowdanahalli village under preliminary notification dated Sept 13, 1990, wherein compensation was awarded at ` 9.5 lakh/acre.

The counsel for MUDA contended that Maragowdanahalli village is far away from Kergalli. They are separated by two villages- Bogadi and Hinkal, and were located 9 kilometres apart.  Further, Maragowdanahalli is situated near a railway station, whereas Kergalli don’t have such facility and the former is far more developed and falls in municipal limits than the latter.

The bench observed that there was no evidence to show that the acquired lands at Kergalli and Maragowdanahalli are comparable with similar market value. It makes clear that award made by the reference court to an acquisition in Maragowdanahalli cannot be basis for determining the market value for lands at Kergalli, the judges opined in their judgment dated Nov 30, 2010.

P C Jayanna, Commissioner of MUDA hoped that the reference court passing a fresh order should not take more than six months as per the directive of the apex court. “We hope the case is solved in 5-6 months and the Authority can go ahead with allotment process. I believe that the necessity should not arise for both the parties to again knock at the doors of higher court, as we have just completed a long process,” he said.   

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