HC quashes acquisition of 189 acres of land

HC quashes acquisition of 189 acres of land
The division bench of the Karnataka High Court has quashed the acquisition of 189 acres of land for a housing cooperative society in Vajarahalli and Raghuvanahalli off Kanakapura Road in Bengaluru South taluk.

The court held that land was acquired by a middleman M Krishnappa, presently Housing Minister, using his political influence in favour of the Bangalore City Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. The court held that it was Krishnappa who received the compensation from the government for the land and not the illiterate villagers.

“Hiring middleman to get the land of rustic villagers acquired by the state is opposed to public policy,'' the court said.

The order was passed by the division bench headed by Chief Justice Subhro Kamal Mukherjee on April 13. Petitioners, original land owners, had challenged the acquisition proceedings on the grounds that it was not done for the public purpose and also in violation of Land Acquisition Act.

The court held the contention that the society had not prepared any housing scheme nor was there any housing scheme as mandatorily required under section 3 (f) (VI) of the Land Acquisition Act.

The society had entered into an agreement with Krishnappa to acquire the lands. Krishnappa, managing director of Rajendra Enterprises, had acted as the middleman. He was engaged for influencing the government for the purpose of acquiring lands in question, it was alleged. A general power of attorney (GPA) and affidavits were executed in favour of Krishnappa.

“A bare perusal of the affidavits and the general power of attorney indicates that the land owners were virtually illiterate people; many of them had put their left thumb impression in both the GPA and the affidavits. It is apparent, therefore, that fraud has been perpetrated upon the land owners, (sic)'' the court observed.

Apart from the agreement with the society, an indemnity bond was executed by Krishnappa in favour of the state government. “In the indemnity bond, Krishnappa has claimed himself that he had been the owner of the lands and the society permitted him to execute the indemnity bond and to collect the compensation from the government. It is thus clear that the middleman, namely, Krishnappa entered into a purported agreement with the society, influenced the government and received the compensation. The land owners did not receive the compensation and the consent given by Krishnappa, by virtue of his power of attorney and the affidavits have been a product of fraud,'' the court said.

The court order quashing the acquisition, however, has come with a rider that the persons who got the sites from the society prior to 2005, when an injunction order was passed, are permitted to retain the houses on payment of compensation to the land owners by offering the market price as prevailing on the dates of the purchase of the site. Similarly, those people who purchased sites after 2005 were also given liberty to negotiate with the land owners for purchase of the land at an agreed price, preferably the market price prevailing in the year 2005. According to sources in the society, of the total 189 acres acquired, 155 acres of land was used for the layout and 1,875 sites were created before 2005.

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