[Land Acquisition] Private interest must give way to public interest: Jammu & Kashmir High Court

"It is settled law that the wherever there is conflict between the private interest and the larger public interest, the later prevails over the former", the Court said.
[Land Acquisition] Private interest must give way to public interest: Jammu & Kashmir High Court
High Court of Jammu & Kashmir

While dismissing appeals moved challenging a land acquisition proceeding, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court recently emphasised that private interests must give way to the public interest (Omesh Singh and Others v.State of J&K and Others).

The Court also underscored that it has been the consistent view of Constitutional Courts that in matters of land acquisitions, the viability or feasibility of the process would not fall within the Court's domain unless it is ex facie contrary to law or tainted with palpable malafides.

Referring to various Supreme Court rulings on this issue, the Bench of Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Javed Iqbal Wani observed:

"It is settled law that the wherever there is conflict between the private interest and the larger public interest, the later prevails over the former. The private interest must give way to the public interest and the same should stand subordinate to public good."

In this case, the Court noted that less that 10 people were pressing objections to the land acqusition in question, while most landowners or residents seemingly did not challenge the said acquisition.

"In such kind of a situation striking a lethal blow to the entire proceedings while invoking extraordinary writ jurisdiction had been found not to be advisable by the Apex Court," the High Court noted.

The Court was dealing with a writ appeal challenging the 2016 acquisition of certain land for the construction of the Hewagon-Dhanmasta road under the PMGSY Scheme.

After it was found that the alignment of the road initially proposal would damage around a 100 households, steps were taken to realign the road construction, which was also eventually approved by the Central government.

The land acquisition was challenged by way of a writ petition, which was dismissed by the High Court. This prompted the petitioners to file a writ appeal, which came up before the Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Bindal and Justice Wani.

The Division Bench, in turn, dismissed the appeal finding that the Court's interference was not called for. The Court found no merit in the allegations of malafides made by the petitioners and opined that the grievances raised had been dealt with lucidly and validly in the earlier single judge ruling.

The Bench opined further that the grievances raise by the petitioners were theoretical and hypothetical rather than real or substantial grievances.

Senior AAG SS Nanda appeared for the government of Jammu and Kashmir whereas, advocates KS Johal and Karman Johal appeared for the petitioners/appellants.

[Read Judgment]

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Omesh Singh v State of J&K.pdf
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