The Supreme Court on Monday asked the High Level Committee (HLC) set up by the Karnataka government to look into the disputes on allotment of land to the Nandi Infrastructure Corridor Enterprises (NICE). The company is executing the Bangalore-Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project.

A three-judge Bench of Justice Tarun Chatterjee, Justice R.M. Lodha and Justice Deepak Verma passed this order after NICE submitted that the State government was yet to hand over 776 acres for ‘Section A’ of the project.

The Bench while asking the State to respond to an application filed by NICE, asked the HLC to look into it and give a report in eight weeks. The former Prime Minister, Deve Gowda, spearheading an agitation, was present in the court throughout the hearing.

Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, appearing for the State along with Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli made it clear that the State government was committed to implementing the project. He said pursuant to the orders of the Supreme Court, the HLC was formed and at its meeting on November 19 it was decided to implement the project.

He said the government would hand over the land, excluding that covered under stay orders on or before June 30, 2010. He sought time to respond to the application filed by NICE on the 776 acres.

The Advocate General said the 776 acres was not part of the agreement. However, when the court wanted the committee to look into it, he agreed.

Senior counsel Dushyant Dave, appearing for NICE, referred to the agitation and road blocks on the highways resorted to by Mr. Gowda and the farmers for six days and said it seriously affected the project as the government was afraid to take action and remove the farmers.

The company had invested about Rs. 2,000 cr. and unless the project was done in a time-bound manner, it would suffer.

Justice Chatterjee observed that “these are issues to be dealt with politically and it is not for us to say anything.”

Mr. Dave said compensation had been paid by the company for the 776 acres but it was yet to be handed over. He said abusive words were used by Mr. Gowda against Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa. Justice Chatterjee said “we are not concerned with these things. Judges are also criticised. Don’t bring all these things to us.”

Counsel Prashant Bhushan, appearing for petitioner U.R. Ananthamurthy, submitted that a fraud had been committed to pass orders for implementing the Outline Development Plan dated February, 12, 2004, which was not the order passed by this court in 2006.

He said under the Framework Agreement it was made clear that no land should be used for commercial development, but this was what the government was doing.

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