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Supreme Court clears path for Delhi infrastructure projects, upholds land acquisitions between 1957 and 2006

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Supreme Court clears path for Delhi infrastructure projects, upholds land acquisitions between 1957 and 2006
The court acknowledged that a large number of newly acquired sites were already being used for vital public services, such as metro extension, schools, and hospitals.

In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court affirmed the property purchases made by different government agencies in Delhi between 1957 and 2006, opening the door for the completion of important infrastructure projects in the nation’s capital. The Land Acquisition Act of 1894 was used to accomplish the acquisitions, but landowners had objected to them.

The decision, which was rendered on May 17 by a bench made up of Justices Ujjal Bhuyan, Dipankar Datta, and Surya Kant, reverses an earlier Delhi High Court ruling that had stated the acquisitions had expired. The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act of 2013, which included additional provisions, was the impetus behind the high court’s ruling.

Nonetheless, the supreme court acknowledged arguments highlighting the negative effect on the public interest in the event that the acquisitions were declared void due to late filing of appeals. In its 113-page decision, the bench stated that “the effect of non-condonation of delay would go beyond mere financial loss to the exchequer, and instead extend to the public at large.”

The court acknowledged that a large number of newly acquired sites were already being used for vital public services, such as metro extension, schools, and hospitals. Reversing the acquisitions would require collecting paid compensation, which may put an end to ongoing initiatives and cause major disruptions.

The court said, “Problematically, in many cases, the development projects might also have to be undone,” underscoring the impracticability of starting such an endeavour.

Crucially, the Supreme Court made it clear that landowners may still pursue appropriate recompense under the 1894 Act, including interest and other statutory advantages.

In addition, the court addressed certain situations in which landowners were accused of fraud, and it ordered the Delhi High Court to form a special bench to handle these matters quickly. The court extended the deadline for starting new acquisition procedures under the 2013 Act by one year in cases where the government had neither taken possession nor paid compensation.

The Delhi Development Authority, Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation, East Delhi Municipal Corporation, and Delhi Metro Rail Corporation can now move forward with their long-stalled projects thanks to this historic ruling.

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