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There can't be discrimination in solatium for land acquired: SC

The matter related to a decision by the Greater Noida authority, a major industrial town abutting the national capital
shish Tripathi
Last Updated : 21 February 2023, 17:11 IST
Last Updated : 21 February 2023, 17:11 IST
Last Updated : 21 February 2023, 17:11 IST
Last Updated : 21 February 2023, 17:11 IST

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The Supreme Court has held that the classification of land as 'Pushtaini' and 'Gair-pushtaini' for awarding compensation for land acquired would be bad in law and thus liable to be set aside.

"The Land Acquisition Act does not distinguish between classes of owners, and uniformly provides compensation to all class of landowners. The classification made between 'Pushtaini' landowners and 'Gair-pushtaini' landowners, is violative of the law laid down and Article 14 of the Constitution, " a bench of Justices Krishna Murari and S Ravindra Bhat said.

The matter related to a decision by the Greater Noida authority, a major industrial town abutting the national capital.

The Greater Noida authorities, on October 28, 1997, classified as ‘Pushtaini’, those landholders who had purchased the land prior to the date of establishment of authority, that is, January 28, 1991, and thereafter got the land by partition or family settlement. ‘Gair-pushtaini’ were those who purchased the land after its establishment.

The top court set aside the Allahabad High Court's full bench decision of March 30, 2018, which had upheld the authorities' order to provide additional compensation to 'Pushtaini' landholders for the land acquired.

The bench said establishment of Greater Noida was done for a noble purpose, i.e., to accommodate in the city all those who came travelling from every corner of the country in search of a better life.

"While doing so however, as can be seen in the present case, some residents whose land was subject to acquisition in the pursuit of the said aim, were faced with discrimination. In such circumstance, it becomes the duty of this court to dispense justice, and rectify the harm caused to those at the receiving end of the discrimination," the bench added.

The court also pointed out the objective of the said classification might have been noble, however, such classification only on the basis of conjectures and surmises cannot be sustained.

"If a claim is being made to differentiate between class of persons, such claim must be backed by empirical data. While this court is not a fact-finding court and is a court of law, however, the law must also not be understood in isolation, but in the context in which it exists, as the law does not exist like an object within the statutes, but lives and evolves with the people it governs," the bench said.

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Published 21 February 2023, 17:11 IST

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