Special Correspondent

Holds that private interest of land owners must yield to larger public interest

  • Land needed for highway project and water scheme
  • Acquisition did not infringe provisions of the National Highways Act

    CHENNAI: Holding that the private interest of land owners must necessarily yield to the larger public interest of expanding National Highway-4 and completing the Krishna Water Supply Project, the Madras High Court vacated an interim injunction on acquisition of some lands at Poonamallee, near here.

    Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla made the observation while vacating the interim injunction granted by the court, and consequently dismissing the miscellaneous petitions preferred by K. Gnanaprakasam, former Judge of the High Court, and D. Brilla David.

    Their lands were acquired under the provisions of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) Act in 2004. However, the present petitions were filed after the lands were sought to be transferred to the Chennai Metrowater Supply and Sewerage Board for laying pipelines. The petitioners submitted that an acquired land could be utilised only for the purpose for which such an acquisition was made.

    Instead of using the acquired land for building, maintenance, management or operation of a National Highways, it was not open to the authorities to transfer it in favour of the Metrowater, they said.

    P. Wilson, Assistant Solicitor-General representing the Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, said there was no violation of any statutory provisions.

    P.S. Raman, Additional Advocate-General representing the State agencies, submitted that the lands were situated in such a strategic location that they were necessary for the smooth progress of the highway project and the water scheme.

    Justice Kalifulla, concurring with their submissions, said in view of the larger public interest it could not be held that the acquisition had seriously infringed the provisions of the National Highways Act. The piece of land was required for the highway project and the water scheme, which was on the verge of completion,he said.