The Karnataka High Court has rejected a writ petition filed against the placement of an electric tower in the middle of the petitioners' land, where their parents' graves are located, and where they intended to build a charitable hospital.

In that context, the Bench of Justice V Srishananda observed that, "It is no doubt true that the Government cannot arbitrarily acquire the land for beneficial purpose even though right to possess the land is now not treated as a fundamental right and the Government in such circumstances, should take into consideration Article 300A of the Constitution of India. When such consideration is made, the Government or Governmental agencies should weigh pros and cons and arrive at a harmonious balance between the individual right of a person and the need of the public at large."

The writ petitioners, brothers and owners of 6 acres and 2 guntas of land in Kasinakunte village, Nidagundi Taluk, Vijayapura District, filed a case against the second respondent, a private company laying an electric transmission line for a wind energy project. A notice was issued for a meeting on 28.02.2023 to fix compensation for land used for the project, but the notice did not mention the placement of the electric tower in the middle of the petitioners' land. Upon discovering the proposed location, the petitioners objected, citing significant land division and safety concerns.

They approached the Deputy Commissioner on the same day, requesting the relocation of the towers. Despite their objections and subsequent representations in June and July 2023, the respondents did not respond positively. Consequently, the petitioners filed a suit for permanent injunction in O.S.No.201/2023. They also intended to build a charitable hospital on their land, where their parents' graves are located, but this plan was threatened by the tower placement.

The petitioners argued that the respondents failed to give notice or obtain consent under Section 67(2) of the Electricity Act, 2003. They claimed procedural lapses and that the land survey was not conducted properly. Despite their requests to shift the tower to alternative points, the Deputy Commissioner rejected their representation on 05.02.2024, citing cost concerns.

The court initially maintained a status quo order but ultimately directed the petitioners to approach the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC). The KERC rejected their appeal on 27.03.2024.

The High Court noted that the original design was altered by shifting the tower position by 17 meters away from the original design which showed sufficient application of mind on the part of the designers and the Deputy Commissioner in considering the request of the petitioners.

To that end, it was observed that, "on cumulative consideration of the material on record including the grounds urged in the writ petition and the need of the respondents in laying the electrical lines including installation of tower in the land of the petitioners, since already the design has been altered by shifting the tower position by 17 meters away from the existing graves of the parents of the petitioners, rejection of further request of the petitioners to further shift the tower by 24 meters on to the North West corner is thus just and proper."

Accordingly, the writ petition was dismissed.

Cause Title: Basappa Alias Chandrashekhar & Ors. vs State of Karnataka & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Judgment