Court rejects petition challenging land acquisition for RIL

March 4th, 2011 - 4:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Gandhinagar, March 4 (IANS) The Gujarat High Court has rejected a petition challenging the legality of land acquisition by the state government for Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) at Motikhavdi village in Jamnagar district of the state.

A division bench of Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice K.A. Puj in an order made available Friday observed that the allegations made by the petitioner appeared to have been made with complete impunity and irresponsibility.

The high court noted that the allegations made by the petitioner are insufficient and unreliable for proving mala fide or colourable exercise of power or for shifting the burden of proof on to the respondent.

The petitioner, Sulaiman Ismail Katiya, who owned land in the village, had approached the court against the acquisition by the government for extension of the company’s housing colony.

Petitioner’s counsels J.R. Nanavati and B.P. Munshi contended that RIL already possessed large areas and did not need additional land. They claimed the government was supporting the company in acquiring large tracts of land to enrich their estate for luxurious living of its officers at the cost of the petitioner.

The government, however, claimed Katiya presented an absolutely incorrect and deliberately misleading factual picture before the court.

The authorities claimed the acquisition was not only in conformity with the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act but also in national interest, considering the security threat perception of the refinery complex.

The company initially established a refinery with capacity of 9 million tonnes per annum (MMTPA), which it increased thereafter to 27 MMTPA.

The respondents submitted that considering the fact that any refinery anywhere in the country has a huge security threat potential in view of the recent terrorist activities, the refineries are required to have an adjoining housing colony even as the security of both the refinery as well as the housing colony is the responsibility of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF).

The respondents further submitted: “When the production capacity was 9 MMTPA, land acquisition proceedings were initiated for acquisition of land for building a housing colony adjacent to the refinery unit.

“When the production capacity of the company was increased from 9 MMTPA to 27 MMTPA and thereafter to 33 MMTPA, the company required more land for expansion of its housing colony and requested the government to allot government wasteland. After the allotment of government wasteland on payment of price, the question of acquisition of pocket land arose.”

The respondents stated that considering the geographical position of the land in question and considering the boundary of the company’s housing colony, the owners/occupants of the pocket land cannot be given access to their respective lands in violation of the prohibitory notification.

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