‘Petitioners have indulged in legal engineering’ | HC dismisses Kangan villagers’ plea challenging land acquisition for road construction

‘Petitioners have indulged in legal engineering’ | HC dismisses Kangan villagers’ plea challenging land acquisition for road construction
File photo of J&K High CourtMubashir Khan/ GK

Srinagar: High Court of J&K and Ladakh has dismissed a plea by villagers of Kangan in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district challenging land acquisition for construction of road under Pradhan Mantri Gram

Sadak Yojana in the village, saying that they are misusing their right to approach the Court by filing successive pleas against the same acquisition.

Observing that the villagers cannot plead ignorance of earlier litigation on same subject, a division bench of Chief Justice Panjay Mithal and Justice Muhammad Akram Chowdhary said: “The petitioners if we may say so, have indulged in legal engineering probably to mislead the court and somehow to stall the construction of the road which is in larger public interest.”

The court said the petitioners­­ had come before it to question the notification dated 14 November 2010 issued under Section 4 (1) of the J&K land acquisition Act after about 11 years in the garb of challenging the NIT dated 11t October 2021 issued for inviting tenders for construction of the road that too without disclosing the full and complete facts.

“Thus, in the overall facts and circumstances of the case, we do not deem it necessary to exercise our discretionary jurisdiction in this matter and dismisses the petition with costs,” it said.

The petitioners—residents of Thune village of Kangan— had sought quashing of the notification dated 14 November 2010 issued under Section 4 of the J&K Land Acquisition Act and tentative award dated 4 January 2011 passed by the Collector, Land Acquisition besides NIT dated 11 October 2021 for the award of work of construction of the road from Thune to Badipathri.

“It is evident from the notification that the land is needed for a public purpose for construction of a road under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana,” the court said “The construction of a road in a village connecting the two places is essentially a public purpose for the development of the area”.

Pointing out that the decision to construct a road is a policy decision and is to be taken by a body of experts under the government, the court said. “It is for the authorities to decide where the road has to be constructed and the said policy decision is beyond the judicial review until and unless it is established that it has been exercised with some mala fide intent in an arbitrary manner.”

The court said that the question whether the road would benefit around 25 to 30 souls only who live there in connection with their activity of grazing having very few houses is “immaterial.”

“(It) is again a matter of policy of the Government that widely claims to connect every village in the country with proper roads in the near future,” it said.

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