Regular abuse of power over Gurgaon land: High Court

Peeveed with the “persistent abuse of power” by Haryana in “matters of acquisition and release of land in and around Gurgaon (NCR)”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the matter should be handed over to an independent agency.

The High Court has issued a show cause notice to Haryana, asking the state government to explain why an independent agency should not be handed over investigation in this regard. The development assumes significance as the matter also involves release of land in village Ulhawas, wherein Haryana has been accused of illegally leasing out panchayat land to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.

The Congress government, last year, had come under fire for allegedly favouring the Trust, formed in 2002, whose trustees are UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

In 2009, the Haryana government issued a notification proposing acquisition of over 1,400 acres in eight villages around Gurgaon for “development and utilisation of Sectors 58 to 63 in Gurgaon for residential and commercial purposes”. A year later, the state released over 95 per cent of the acquired land. The final acquisition was of a mere 87 acres.

A division bench of Justices Surya Kant and Surinder Gupta held that “the facts mentioned in the petitioner, prima facie, disclose persistent abuse of powers by the state government in the matter of acquisition and release of land in and around Gurgaon (NCR)”. The directions have been passed on a joint petition filed by five residents of village Badhshahpur, Gurgaon. The petitioners, through their counsel Sandeep Sharma, have alleged that Haryana “adopted pick-and-choose policy” while releasing land.

It is pertinent to mention here that a list of 93 influential persons and builders has been annexed by the petitioners to submit that the said 93 parties did not even file their objections to acquisition of land. Yet, their land was released on its own by the state. On the contrary, the poor farmers filed repeated objections to the acquisition of land despite which their land was not released.

The petitioners have alleged that after the issuance of initial notification (under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act), farmers were compelled to sell their prime land at throwaway prices to builders and land sharks in Gurgaon. Shockingly, after the builders purchased the land they were granted licences by the state government for construction of residential colonies. To top it all, the land finally purchased by builders was dropped from final acquisition. The eight villages involved are village Nangli Umarpur, Tigra, Ulhawas, Kadarpur, Medawas, Badhshahpur, Behrampur and Ghatta.

That similar “arbitrary and fraudulent” techniques have been adopted by Haryana in and around Gurgaon, the farmers have petitioned the High Court demanding quashing of the acquisition proceedings.

The division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant ordered land owners and Haryana to maintain status quo with regard to possession and construction. Haryana has been given two months’ time to submit its response.

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