Tuesday, August 9, 2011

SC delivers a land-mark verdict ,Land Can Be Acquired Only For Public Purpose, Used Solely For Reason It Was Taken

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday laid down path-breaking guidelines to quell the flared-up emotions and bloodshed that land acquisition has triggered across the country.
In a judgment that ended the 17-yearold litigation over the Karnataka government’s decision to acquire 137 acres of an estate near Bangalore that belonged to Rabindranath Tagore’s grandniece and actress Devika Rani Roerich, a constitution bench ruled that citizens and even foreigners have a right to just and fair compensation and that the government could acquire land only for public purpose.
“Public purpose is a pre-condition for deprivation of a person from his property under Article 300A of the Constitution. The right to claim compensation is also inbuilt in that Article,” the court said.
“When a person is deprived of his property, the state has to justify both the grounds which may depend on scheme of the statute, legislative policy and purpose of the legislature and other related factors. We also order that the land acquired be utilized only for the purpose for which it was acquired.”
In this case, the Karnataka government had acquired a part of the 470-acre Tatgunni Estate in 1954 for cultivation of linaloe. A part of it was first sold by Russiaborn Svetoslav Roerich to KT Plantation in 1991, while his wife Devika sold another portion to the same company later.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday put an end to the 17-year-old litigation over the Karnataka government’s decision to acquire 137 acres of Tatgunni Estate near Bangalore belonging to Rabindranath Tagore’s grand niece and famous actress Devika Rani Roerich.
Most of the acquired land was part of the 470 acres allotted to the Roerichs—Russia-born Svetoslav Roerich to whom Devika was married —for cultivation of linaloe in 1954.A part of it was first sold by Svetoslav Roerich to K T Plantation in 1991. Later another portion was sold to the same company by Devika. When the Roerichs were ailing, vested interests started claiming ownership of the land through forged wills and the state government decided to acquire it to set up the Roerich gallery by purchasing their paintings and valuables.
A constitution bench rejected all challenges to the Karnataka government’s decision to take over 137 acres sold to KT Plantation. It withdrew the exemption granted for the cultivation of linaloe and directed that the land be utilized for setting up the Roerich gallery.
While Svetoslav Roerich had been awarded many international awards and the Padma Bhushan by the Indian government for his contribution as an artist and painter, Devika Rani was the first recipient of the Dada Saheb Phalke Award for her contribution to motion pictures.

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