Terming the acquisition of farmers’ land in Greater Noida by the Mayawati government in Uttar Pradesh as a ‘colourable exercise’ of governance, the Supreme Court has directed that the entire 156 hectares of land returned to the `robbed’ farmers.
It also imposed Rs10 lakh cost on the Greater Noida industrial development agency for changing the land use after the land was acquired in the name of development.
Upholding a judgment of the Allahabad high court in May last, a bench of justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly on Wednesday observed “Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority (GNIDA) allotted the land to builders in complete violation for which the land was acquired.”
Declining to stay the HC judgment, the bench noted that even before the government approved the use of land from industrial to residential purposes, GNIDA allotted the land to some builders.
It had paid Rs800 a sq meter to farmers but sold their ‘mother land’ between Rs10,000 and Rs13,000 per sq meters.
Besides GNIDA, several builders including Amarpali, Supertech, and Amrapali challenged the HC judgment saying there was nothing wrong with the acquisition as farmers had been paid their due.
Their counsel also said that the commercial and residential complexes being built in a segment of four villages are for the good of ‘people’.
It said that 185 farmers would become landless due to the authorities’ acquisition of land. “Your officers knew everything that it is for private builders who will build multi-storeyed complexes. This does not happen overnight. You tried to overreach. Even your government did not wait for its approval and issued ads,” the court told GNIDA lawyer.
It also raised doubt on the integrity of the GNIDA as it recalled that while one chairman of the agency (Neera Yadav) had been convicted in a corruption case and another is facing the grave of charge of misconduct and corruption.
But, judges said, they wouldn’t not like to go into the ‘murkier’ aspects of the GNIDA.