The Supreme Court has slammed the Maharashtra government for denying compensation to a landowner whose plot it acquired in 1981, and it has taken strong objection to a related Bombay high court judgement, warning that such “pro-state” verdicts helped the spread of Naxalism in the country.
On Friday, the apex court scrapped the Bombay high court judgement of November last year which had found fault with the landowner Tukaram Kana Joshi for not filing a petition for compensation from the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC).
The SC directed the MIDC and the Maharashtra state government to pay compensation to Joshi at the prevailing market rate.
A two-judge bench of the Supreme Court observed that it was also because of such “pro-state” judgements that the country faced an increase in Naxalism in the industrial and mineral belts.
Justice SB Chauhan and justice Jagdish Singh Khehar said the attitude of some courts in matters of land acquisition had been pro-state till the Nandigram events when they realised that the people would not accept such “anti-poor” judgements.
The judges also ruled that matters relating to land compensation to farmers or landowners squarely fell within the “purview of human rights”.
Earlier, the court had examined the affidavit filed by the Maharashtra chief secretary, explaining the circumstances due to which Joshi was not paid compensation.
In its judgement, the high court had noted that in 1981, there was no legal requirement for issuing notice under section 4 of the land acquisition law and that it was only in 1984 that the amended law made it mandatory to pay compensation.
The HC had also pointed out that Joshi didn’t file any petition or application making a claim, but filed a law suit only in 2009.
“The petitioner (Joshi) is guilty of unexplained laches and therefore, in the extraordinary jurisdiction of this court, under article 226 of the Constitution, he cannot be granted any relief,” justice DK Deshmukh and justice Anoop V Mohta had ruled.
('Laches' is the legal term for an unreasonable delay in pursuing legal remedy.)