A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed before the Kerala High Court seeking to restrain the pre investment activities including land acquisition for the Silverline rail project of the Kerala government [MK Thankappan v Union of India & Ors]..The petition was filed by the President of the Trade Union Centre of India, MK Thankappan purportedly highlighting the the cause of persons who are affected by the K- Rail (Kerala Rail Development Corporation) project of the Government of Kerala.The plea stated that those affected by project are unable to approach the Court themselves because of their social and economic backwadrness, prompting this PIL. K- Rail, a Joint Venture Company was created with the object of undertaking project development works for several projects projects, including conducting surveys, preparation of Detailed Project Report and getting requisite approvals, processing for sanctioning of identified projects and implementation of the sanctioned project. Silverline project was identified by the K- Rail for development of a 529.45 km high speed rail corridor connecting the State's northern most and southern most districts (Kasaragod and Thiruvananthapuram). The project is expected to cost the public exchequer ₹63,940.67 crores.The petition stated that pursuant to “in principle approval” issued by the Central government, pre investment activities including surveys and acquisitions as provided under Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 (LARR Act, 2013) have commenced.For the purpose, two Government Orders (GO) were issued. One granted sanction for acquisition of 955.13 hectares of land in various villages and the other increased the area to be acquired to 1,221 hectares. According to the first GO, the pre investment land acquisition alone would cost ₹2,100 crores. The petition, filed through advocates AK Preetha, C Anilkumar, MR Rajesh , Anns Thanku Paul and Reshma R Krishnan, has challenged these two GOs and all consequential proceedings. .The plea said that the subject matter of the Silverline Project – Railway, is a central subject included as List I Entry 22 of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution of India. The running of railways within the territory of India is exclusively handled by the Ministry of Railways under the Central government through a statutory board - the Railway Board.Therefore, the Central government, the Railway Board and Southern Railway are the competent authorities to sanction final approval in the matter of Silverline Project, it was contended.It was also pointed out that the two GOs have been issued under the the LARR Act whereas Section 105(1) of the Act excludes its application in respect of enactments in the 4th Schedule to the Act which includes the Railway Act, 1989.Moreover, it was argued that as the Silverline Project passes through Mahe, an area under the administrative control of the Union Territory of Puducherry, the project is one liable to be treated as “Special Railway Project” and as such only Central government has the power to issue notificationIt is also stated that as pre investment activities over ₹100 crore require the prescribed appraisal and approval by Cabinet or Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs, the same cannot be proceeded with on the basis of “In Principle” Approval as has been done in this case. The plea also pointed out that K-rail is only a Joint Venture Company and not a Special Purpose Vehicle which makes it incompetent to even request or recommend land acquisition proceeding.The decision of the Supreme Court in Rajiv Suri v. Delhi Development Authority (Central Vista case) was cited in which it was held that even though the government has the sole prerogative in development work, "this prerogative of the Government is subject to due observance of rules, regulations and other procedures. The scrutiny of the Court is to ensure that the Government does not transgress its boundaries in the task of governance".On these grounds, the petitioner has sought the following directions from the Court: a) quashing and setting aside the two GOs and all consequential proceedings;b) interdicting the Kerala Government and K-Rail from proceeding with pre investment activities including survey and land acquisition under the provisions of the LARR 2013;c) declaring that in view of Section 105(1) of the LARR Act, 2013, proceedings under the Act has no application to the Silverline project;d) declaring that the Kerala Government has no authority to undertake pre investments activities on the basis of In Principle Approval as the pre investment cost estimate is above Rs 100 crore; ande) declaring that as the cost of the project is above Rs 1000 Crore, it can only be proceeded with after approval from the Competent authority.