SC notice to States on Land Acquisition Act amendments

SC notice to States on Land Acquisition Act amendments

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Jharkhand on a petition filed by noted activist, Medha Patkar and others, challenging validity of amendments into the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, allowing them to take over land for big projects without taking consent and objections from the affected citizens.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta agreed to examine the issue and sought a response from the states, as advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioners, contended the amendment into the central law violated the federal structure and emasculated the basic structure.

Though the central law of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 stated no irrigated and multi-crop land would be acquired, the states brought in changes to exempt land acquisition for all infrastructure, industrial corridor, housing projects, etc from the beneficial provisions, Bhushan said.

“Those changes would take away the people's right to life and live with dignity,” the counsel contended, seeking direction to strike down those amendments.

The mandate to conduct a social impact assessment and to involve local bodies in such an exercise has also been done away with by the state governments, the petitioners claimed.

Notably, similar amendments were sought to be introduced by the Union government at the Centre through ordinances in 2014-15. However, because of lack of consensus, those could not be passed in Parliament. Thereafter having failed to pass central amendments they instructed the states to make the amendments for which presidential assent was given, the petitioners submitted.

The central law overrides all state Acts and rules and if the state laws come in conflict with the central Act, those have to be deleted, they added.