Hefty sums paid to estate agents clearly testifies to corruption at high places for facilitating land acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, especially when the person for whom the land is acquired did not have any scheme of housing and list of members at the time of requisitioning State help for compulsory land acquisition.

In Bangalore City Cooperative Society Ltd vs State of Karnataka, the Supreme Court said it was clear that money power had played the decisive role in getting a notification released by the State Government on September 1, 1988, for compulsory acquisition of 201 acres from Ms Geeta Devi Shah, who was using the land to grow assorted tress.

The Supreme Court was convinced that housing, which lends itself to be a ground for compulsory acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act, was in the instant case an alibi for land grabbing and subsequent sale at much higher prices to various allottees.

Lack of records showing the intended beneficiaries who were stated to be from the weaker sections of the society coupled with the role of a real estate agent to whom crores of rupees were paid presumably to act as a go-between between the society and powers-that-be conclusively proved the use of money power and abuse of discretionary power, the Court observed.

While asking those who had already constructed houses to pay Ms Shah the difference between the current market price of land and what was paid to her by way of compensation on compulsory acquisition, the Court asked the vacant land to be returned to her.

(The author is a New Delhi-based chartered accountant.)

(This article was published on February 11, 2012)
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