A Karnataka High Court Bench of Justice Krishna S. Dixit has allowed a writ petition and observed that "The government cannot act as a robber of citizens lands; taking away private lands for the purported public purpose sans compensation militates against the spirit of constitutional guarantee enacted u/a 300A, the fundamental right to property no longer being on the statute book, notwithstanding. It hardly needs to be stated that the State and its instrumentalities are constitutionally expected to conduct themselves with fairness & reasonableness in all their actions".

In light of the same, the Court has ordered the State to rightly compensate the people whose lands it used for a public project without the payment of compensation

Counsel Veeranna G Tigadi appeared for the Petitioners, while Counsel Sridhar Hegde and Counsel PV Chandrashekar appeared for the Respondents.

In this case, a writ petition was filed, praying to quash a May 2007 notification issued by the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Act, 1966. The petitioners had approached the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board, requesting compensation. However, the petitioners were met with stony silence and it was argued that the payment of compensation is a pre-condition for sustaining acquisition.

Consequently, the petitioners sought compensation under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Act, 2013.

On hearing the parties, the Court observed that "the Government issued a Corrigendum Notification dated 05.06.2014 mentioning their names and thereby entitling them to payment of compensation. However, compensation has not been paid even to this day. There is no plausible explanation as to why the payment of compensation is withheld for decade and a half. It hardly needs to be stated that payment of compensation is essential when private property is acquired for public purpose; this mandate is ‘in-built’ in Article 300A".

In furtherance of the same, the Court said that "Except saying that there are rival claimants for compensation, there is absolutely no justification whatsoever for withholding the payment even when the Corrigendum Notification dated 05.06.2014 itself mentioned the names of Petitioners and not the Objectors. The lands of the Petitioners have been allotted to the entrepreneurs at a price of Rs.2.5 Crore per acre, that too after giving a rebate of 50% of the Market Value. This Court is bewildered as to how the compensation lawfully payable has been withheld when it was obviously due for payment to the Petitioners."

Subsequently, the Court condemned the conduct of KIADB and its officials, and observed that "Their action in not paying the compensation is not only grossly violative of property rights constitutionally guaranteed under Article 300A but gnaws at overarching objectives of a Welfare State ordained under the Constitution."

Therefore, the Court ordered the State to pay the compensation to the petitioners as per the applicable provisions of the 2013 Act.

Cause Title: MV Guruprasad & Anr. v. State of Karnataka & Ors.

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