Monday, June 19, 2017

Public welfare is supreme law: HC reminds govt

Amid allegations that the government is bending laws to make it easy for industrialists to acquire land, Gujarat high court has told the state government not to forget that "welfare of the people is the supreme law", and advised it on how "public necessity is greater than private".

Justice J B Pardiwala pulled up the state government for allowing a private company to retain possession of a huge parcel of land though it remained unutilized for long.

"Why this charity of a huge government largesse to an individual?" asked the court.

Prior to that, the court pointed out the huge number of people who lack shelter in this country. "They have to brave the scorching heat in the summer, torrential rains during monsoon, and biting cold in winter," the court said.

Without mincing words, Justice Pardiwala said, "Let me remind the authorities concerned of the two maxims 'salus populi est supreme lex' which means, 'the welfare of the people is the supreme law' and 'necessitas publica major est quam privata', which means 'public necessity is greater than private'."

The case involved Navyug Industry, which was allotted over 53,000 square metres of land in 1962 near Patan town. As the city expanded, the land was covered by the city survey and a portion of the plot was vested with the government authority. The industry, which was wound up in 2001, was permitted to sell the land on condition that it would not claim another parcel of land in lieu of the plot.
Meanwhile, Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) needed a plot to build a depot and a pick-up bus stand. It was allotted 15,300 square metres from the land forfeited from the company after it breached the condition of allotment.

The company moved the HC claiming a stake in the land that was allotted to GSRTC.

After hearing the case, the HC observed that the government had taken the matter "very lightly and with no sense of responsibility".

Rejecting the company's claim to the land, the court said, "At least, it could be said that the government land is being used for public purpose, rather than allotting such a huge parcel of land to an individual who has defaulted, or rather breached, the condition of allotment."

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