A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Hemant Gupta and Justice Vikram Nath set aside a judgment passed by the Karnataka High Court while holding that "The Division Bench in the impugned judgment seems to have been swayed by its own philosophy in due deference to the principles of statutory interpretation. The statute is to be read in its plain language. Setting up of industries is part of development. There has to be a sustainable growth and existence of all facets and, that is why, laws have been framed, cheques and balance have been imposed so that development takes place side by side with the protection and preservation of nature and environment."

The impugned Judgment of the Karnataka High Court is of the year 2012, of a Division Bench of Justice D. V. Shylendra Kumar and Justice B. V. Pinto.

Senior Counsel Krishnan Venugopal appeared for one of the companies before the Court.

In this case, notifications were issued under the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Act, 1966, for the acquisition of some land. 11 Writ Petitions were filed, praying for the quashing of the notifications. Pertinently, more than 90% of the landowners accepted the compensation amount.

The Division Bench of the High Court allowed the appeals and quashed the notifications issued under the Act.

Aggrieved by the same, the companies for whom the land was being acquired, as well as the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) and State of Karnataka approached the Supreme Court.

Analyzing the chronology of events and the judgments in cases like C. Jayaram and others Vs. The State of Karnataka and others, the Court held that due procedure had been followed in the acquisition process.

Analyzing the provisions of the Act, the Court said that "The entire process as provided under the Act has been strictly followed. The Division Bench in the impugned judgment apparently was swayed by its own personal views based on assumptions and having no material backing which led to the quashing of the notifications."

With regard to the contention that acquisition cannot be made for a single company, the Court analyzed regulations framed by the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board, and the judgment passed in the case of P. Narayanappa Vs. State of Karnataka, to hold that the Board is empowered to allot any plot or area to any individual or company for the establishment of an industry in consultation with the State Government and it also contemplates acquiring land for the purpose of allotment to a single company to set up an industry.

The Apex Court further noted that the Division Bench had expressed several value judgments while interpreting the statutes, and while reproducing the personal policy views and value judgments, it said that "It is only as a measure of caution that the said aspect is being taken note of. Such value judgments and policy views are beyond the domain of the Courts. The Courts should refrain itself from expressing value judgments and policy views in order to interpret statutes. Statutes are to be read in their plain language and not otherwise."

The Supreme Court further held that quashing the notifications in the interests of merely 10% of the landowners was against public policy and public interest and that the development projects were creating a substantial amount of employment.

Therefore, the Court held that the Division Bench had committed an error by quashing the acquisition proceedings. The Supreme Court allowed the appeals filed and dismissed the judgment of the Division Bench. No orders were passed as to costs.

Cause Title: M/s. M.S.P.L. LIimited vs The State of Karnataka & Ors.

Click here to read/download the Judgment