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High Court dismisses six writ petitions

Raviprasad Kamila
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The petitions challenged land acquisition for National Highway

A stretch of NH66 where work is under progress on the outskirts of Mulky, in Mangalore .— FILE PHOTO: H.S. MANJUNATH
A stretch of NH66 where work is under progress on the outskirts of Mulky, in Mangalore .— FILE PHOTO: H.S. MANJUNATH

The Karnataka High Court has dismissed six more writ petitions challenging the Government for acquiring land for widening the National Highway 66 (former NH 17) to 60 m (right of way) in Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts.

Sources in the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) told The Hindu that the petitions were dismissed on January 13, 16, and 23, 2012. Earlier last year, the court had dismissed/ disposed of seven writ petitions which had challenged the Government's land acquisition for the widening project.

With this, of the 20 writ petitions before the High Court challenging the land acquisition to 60 m (right of way), the court had dismissed/ disposed of 13 petitions till February 16. Many petitioners wanted the highway to be widened to 45 m and acquire land only to that extent, the sources said.

The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) had taken up the widening of the highway stretch between Kundapur and Surathkal, and Nanthoor Junction and Talapady under phase III of the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) under build, operate, and transfer (BOT) basis.

The single judge of the court who dismissed the writ petitions last month observed that he was dismissing them on the same grounds of the court's judgment of October 17, 2011 while dismissing the writ petition nos. 27610-27627/2010 and 28088-28097/2010 which had challenged the land acquisition for the same project.

In the October 17, 2011 judgment the court observed: “…The NHAI cannot be charged with excessive acquisition with any rate of success. Some chunks of the land figuring in the preliminary notification do not figure in the final notification implying that they are dropped from the acquisition proceedings. It shows that the NHAI has not indulged in reckless, indiscriminate or excessive acquisition…''

The court said the manual prepared by the Indian Road Congress contained only the guidelines or norms. “It can always be modified to suit the requirements of a given situation…''

“…Further the court takes the judicial notice of the rolling out of lakhs of new vehicles on the roads everyday in the country. If the future requirements are anticipated by the decision-maker, he cannot be blamed for the same. Any road widening project has to be in the perspective of the long term requirement…”

In the judgment, a copy of which is with The Hindu , the court took note of the fact that the petitioners' lands constituted only five per cent of the totally acquired land for the project.

Of the six writ petitions dismissed last month included the one filed by T. Sukumar, former Secretary, State Public Works Department, Ajjarakadu, Udupi; and others (W.P. No. 4988-5070/2011 (LA-RES)). It was dismissed on January 13, 2012. Two writ petitions were dismissed on January 16, 2012. They were W.P. No. 13929-14007/2011 (LA-RES) Ashok Raj and others, and W.P. No. 14888-14956/2011 (LA-RES) Lakshmindra Bhat and others.

The remaining three writ petitions were dismissed on January 23, 2012. They included W.P. No. 25910/2011 by Anasuya, W.P. No. 25911/2011 by N. Jayaram Shetty, and W.P. No. 18198/2011 by Nagaraja Shetty.

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