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High Court quashes Telangana GO 123

: Justice Suresh Kumar Kait of Hyderabad High Court on Wednesday quashed the GO 123 issued by Telangana Government which provides for quick acquisition of lands from land owners for public purpose.

The court found that the GO bypasses The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 ( Act 30 of 2013) and reminded that the government is not a private property dealer.

The court was allowing a writ petition filed by Tukkamma and 22 other agricultural labourers of Bardipur village, Jarasangham Mandal, Medak district.

The petitioners contended that the government is acquiring lands in this area including their village for National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) to be set up by the Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC). The petitioners told the court that as they are agricultural labourers from the SC community, their livelihood will be lost if the lands are taken away.

The Act 30 of 2013 gives benefits to the landless poor also. GO 123 issued in July 2015 does not provide for any relief to these helpless labourers. The main contention of the petitioners was that landless poor cannot be left in the lurch and the government cannot resort to land acquisition, bypassing the poor people without any rehabilitation. The government contended that this GO is only an alternative way to acquire the lands expeditiously for public purpose and when the land of the petitioners is not taken, they cannot have any complaint.

Justice Suresh Kumar Kait heard the arguments for over 40 minutes and dictated the judgment in the open court hall. The court said that the respondents could not understand the issue raised in the writ petition. The judge reminded that Act 30 of 2013 specifically recognises the landless labourers like the petitioners, artisans, tenants, share croppers and gives them the ‘affected family’ status. These affected families are given various benefits in second schedule of the Act 30 of 2013. Justice Kait found that slight benefits given under GO 123 are taken away by GO 214 issued in November 2015. The judge pointed out that the agricultural labourers will not get ‘single penny’ if lands are acquired in the villages under GO 123. This will bypass the Act 30 of 2013. The court reminded that the Act 30 of 2013 gives power to the State Legislature to frame a law to give better rehabilitation and enhanced compensation. The judge commented that “instead of giving any enhanced compensation, the rehabilitation and resettlement has been taken away”.

The court said that the Telangana Government has accepted this Act 30 of 2013 and framed rules, Telangana State Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Rules, 2014. The judge made it clear that there is no power to make any rule which runs contrary to the Act 30 of 2013.