The Supreme Court has rejected a plea by farmers for ‘fair compensation’ for land acquired from them. It said the villagers came to court 21 years too late.
A Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and M.R. Shah applied the Doctrine of Acquiescence on the farmers. Thus, once the agriculturists acquiesce to certain terms, even if the terms are found wrong, they lose their right to come back and complain.
Land was taken from the villagers of Gulsitapur and Tilpta, near the Noida-Dadri Highway in Uttar Pradesh, in the late 1980s under the Land Acquisition Act. They were given ₹20-22 per square yard at the time.
However, the farmers later came to know that their neighbours in Kasna, hardly four km away, were given ₹65 per square yard. The rate of compensation for the villagers of Kasna was finalised in 2016 by the Supreme Court.
Spurred by Kasna’s victory, the farmers of Gulsitapur and Tilpta also decided to take the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) and the Greater Noida Industrial Development Authority to court.
The farmers argued that “delay should not defeat their valuable rights to get fair compensation.” They were ready to waive the interest and other statutory benefits under the Land Acquisition Act to balance out the factor of delay.
But the Allahabad High Court saw differently and the Supreme Court followed suit to dismiss the case.
During the hearings before the apex court, the land authorities argued that, besides the ‘inordinate delay’ in coming to court, the villagers of Gulsitapur and Tilpta cannot use a subsequent deal with Kasna as the touchstone for their petition for enhanced compensation. The authorities said the compensation payable to Kasna villagers was settled four years after the Gulsitapur-Tilpta acquisition deal.
But the farmers complained that their acquired lands in Gulsitapur and Tilpta were better located and abutted the national highway, i.e, Noida – Dadri Road. It was submitted that Kasna was four km behind Gulsitapur.
The Supreme Court agreed with the authorities, saying the villagers of Gulsitapur and Tilpta cannot seek higher compensation on the basis of what was later done in the ‘entirely different village’ of Kasna.
The court agreed that a change in compensation rate now would have a cascading effect. The acquired land has been developed and allotted decades ago. The rate of allotment was based on the cost of acquisition. If the cost of acquisition was increased, it would have to be recovered from the allottees after decades of allotment, the court reasoned.