Supreme Court comes to land owners' rescue

It sets aside HC order; tells housing society to return 65 acres

The landmark judgement by the Supreme Court in the Bangalore City Co-operative (BCC) Housing Society Limited case has paved the way for land owners to reclaim land acquired from them by another house building co-operative society.

The apex court division bench comprising Justices G S Singhvi and Sudhanshu Jyothi Mukhopadhyay, on February 7, directed the Vyalikaval House Building Co-operative Society (VHBCS) to surrender land to the extent of 65.33 acres to the land owners. The court cited the verdict delivered on February 2 in the case of BCC Housing Society Limited Vs State of Karnataka, while ruling in favour of the land owners in VHBCS case.

The court quashed the re-acquisition notification issued by the government in favour of VHBCS and set aside the order of the High Court of Karnataka favouring the Society in regard to land acquisition. The apex court directed the Society to return the land to the respective owners, including “those who have not filed the case due to poverty, illiteracy and ignorance.” However, the court ruled that the relief was not applicable to those who had withdrawn their Special Leave Petition in the interim.

The SC bench, in the SLP (Anjanappa vs VHBCS), observed: “There is no housing scheme approved by the government for acquisition as required under the Land Acquisition Act, 1984. And this, though there has been permission granted by the government to acquire the land.”

In the February 2 judgement in the BCC Housing Society case, the Supreme Court had directed the surrender of land acquired for the Society back to the land owners.

In its judgment, tracing the history of the case, the apex court observed that VHBCS, ‘undeterred’ by adverse judgments with regard to the same land previously, was able to succeed in ‘persuading’ the re-acquisition of land admeasuring 65 acres and 33 guntas by the State government.

While the land acquisition notice was later withdrawn in 2000, VHBCS approached the High Court disputing the withdrawal. It was observed by the Single Bench of the High Court on March 9, 2004 that the State Government had indeed acquired the land in 1999 and that the withdrawal was not in line with the government policy as cited by the Government counsel. Hence, it had awarded relief to the Society.

Between 1984 and 1986, the government acquired around 165 acres in Nagavara village,  for VHBCS. Disputing the acquisition, many land owners approached the HC and got the acquisition quashed by quoting the case of HMT Vs Syed Khadar. In 1999, the Society, through the additional registrar of co-operative societies, succeeded in convincing the government to re-acquire the land lost to the land owners and won the litigation filed by them.

The land owners then approached the High Court with a writ appeal against the re-acquisition. Their petition was dismissed favouring the re-acquisition on October 6, 2005.

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