Apex court to hear more farmers in land acquisition case.

The Supreme Court on Monday declined to grant any immediate interim relief to Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) against a judgment of the Allahabad High Court quashing the Uttar Pradesh Government's notification to acquire land for the proposed 8,000 MW Dadri power project.

A bench headed by Chief Justice K. G. Balakrishnan said it would consider grant of interim relief on January 29 after hearing certain farmers who wanted to be heard in this matter.

Senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Reliance Power Ltd. (RPL) submitted that their corporate rivals were behind the petitions filed by farmers against land acquisition. He said "the petitions were motivated. This was a case of corporate rivalry. The rivalry seen in the gas dispute here."

He pointed out that the High Court had entertained the petitions four years after the allocation of land was made and in many cases farmers had already withdrawn the compensation amount.

He said 5,827 farmers had consented for the acquisition of their lands by the Uttar Pradesh Government and 90 per cent of them had accepted the compensation amount.

"Under such circumstances how can the High Court pass such an order," he asked.

He said since only 432 farmers filed the petition, the benefit of the High Court order should go to them only and it could not be applied to all the farmers who had willingly accepted the compensation amount and surrendered their lands.

In its appeal, RPL had contended that the High Court should not have entertained the petitions of the farmers on grounds of delay in filing them.

It said that the company had complied with the provisions of the Land Acquisition law and the project was in public interest.

It said the company was already in possession of 2,200 acres acquired in 2004 itself and out of the total compensation amount of Rs. 157.85 crore, Rs. 146.19 crore had been distributed to the farmers.

By accepting compensation and signing Kararnamas/consent agreements land owners had acquiesced in the acquisition, it said and prayed for quashing the impugned judgment and an interim stay of its operation.

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