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SC land caution

New Delhi, Nov. 14: The Supreme Court has held that citizens cannot be uprooted from their land without just compensation as that would turn them into “anti-nationals” and “vagabonds”, besides breeding corruption and disrespect for the law.

The observation came on an appeal by Tukaram Kana Joshi and others, whose land in Shirwame village of Thane district was acquired by the Maharashtra government under Section 4 of the Land Acquisition Act on June 6, 1964, but who were not paid any compensation.

“The claimants are illiterate and inarticulate persons, who have been deprived of their fundamental rights by the state….

“The non-fulfilment of their obligations would tantamount to forcing the said uprooted persons to become vagabonds or to indulge in anti-national activities as such sentiments would be born in them on account of such ill-treatment,” the court said.

The court in a recent judgment upheld the appeal for compensation, directing the authorities to issue notification for a fresh declaration and award compensation within three months thereafter.

The land was forcibly acquired to set up the Ulhas Khore Industrial Project. However, the project got dropped and the acquisition proceedings lapsed. Others whose land had been similarly acquired for the project were paid compensation, but the appellants who are illiterate got nothing.

After pleading with the administration for more than 40 years, the land owners approached Bombay High Court but it dismissed their plea in 2009 on the grounds that it was filed too late and no proper records were available.

The Supreme Court upheld the appeal against the high court judgment. “The appellants have been seriously discriminated against qua other persons, whose land was also acquired. Some of them were given the benefits of acquisition, including compensation in the year 1966,” the bench said.

“This kind of discrimination not only breeds corruption, but also disrespect for governance….”