Supreme court angry over endless litigation to stall compensation payment in land acquisition cases
GN Bureau | February 12, 2015
This was bound to happen. The Supreme Court has pulled up the central government for engaging in endless litigation over land acquisition issues and thus denying rightful compensation to land owners, mostly farmers.
"You have enacted the new land acquisition law for payment of compensation to farmers, but you don't pay the farmers for years. You (the defence ministry) spend Rs 100 crore for the Republic Day parade but when it comes to payment of compensation to the poor farmers, say Rs 10 or Rs 20 lakh, you file appeals," a three-judge bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu and Justices A.K. Sikri and Arun Misra observed.
"You say you have a national litigation policy to reduce pending cases and avoid frivolous cases. But then there are instances when even after the Armed Forces Tribunal had directed you to pay certain pension benefits to retired army personnel you did not pay and came to us on appeal. We had to dismiss the appeals filed by you (the Centre) against 900 pensioners. This is the way you keep on filing appeals," Justice Dattu told the cntral government lawyer.
The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by the Defence Ministry on granting of compensation to farmers on land acquisition in cantonment areas in Punjab.
The CJI also took a dig at the government for not providing infrastructure to various tribunals though appointments have been made to head tribunals like the debt recovery tribunal, national green tribunal and the income tax appellate tribunal.
"No accommodation is given to tribunal members and there is no infrastructure for the tribunals to function. You give accommodation in the Commonwealth Games village (in Delhi considered to be inhospitable due to infrastructure problems). Why are you making such discrimination?
"In one instance, even a retired Supreme Court judge was not given proper accommodation for heading a tribunal.... The debt recovery tribunals are located in flats. You first create infrastructure and then appoint tribunals for proper functioning," the bench said.
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