Punjab, Haryana HC Hikes Land Compensation To Rs 2 Cr; SC Calls For Reconsideration
Land acquisition in India has often been a cumbersome experience. In most cases, it has led to protests, project delays and cost overruns. Authorities compensate landowners, mostly farmers for the vast acres of land bought by them. However, it is the government that fixes the rate at which the land has to be bought. In a recent case, the Supreme Court (SC) has asked the Punjab and Haryana high courts to reconsider their decision of enhancing the market value of land acquired in Hisar district by nearly 17 times — from Rs 12 lakh per acre to Rs 2 crore per acre.
Run-up to the verdict
Citing that the location had immense potential, the Punjab and Haryana High court in 2016 had enhanced the market value of 229 acre of land in Hansi, Hisar district. This land was supposed to be developed for residential purposes. In 2005, the Haryana government had quoted the compensation at only Rs 12 lakh per acre. Later, the Reference Court revised it to Rs 48.4 lakh per acre and the state government okayed the decision. However, landowners moved the High Court for further price revision and the new price jumped 17 times to settle at Rs 2 crore. The apex court has now asked the High Court to rethink its decision.
Meanwhile, there has been criticism that the High Court’s price revision was in line with that of treatment of commercial land, however, the land in question is agricultural. Sales deeds of land in the middle of acquired land showed that it had fetched anywhere between Rs 4-8 lakh per acre however, lawyers representing the landowners suggested that these sale deeds did not reflect the correct value of land.
The SC has noted that the Reference Court and the high court “have not considered the sale deeds produced on behalf of the state for determination of compensation” and therefore “cannot be said to be justifiable.”
Land acquisition process has always been a problem in most states. There are environment-related challenges, farmer protests etc. In micro-markets like that of Noida, land acquisition related issues have contributed most to project delays. In some cases, the state government directly takes up the compensation related matters to avoid unnecessary delays that happen due to negotiations and protests.