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High Court order upheld

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, SEPT. 20 . The Supreme Court has upheld a Delhi High Court judgment quashing a Delhi Government notification to acquire land for the traditional annual festival of "Phool Walon Ki Sair" which was in vogue from the Mughal times before it was discontinued, and then revived in 1961 by the then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Delhi High Court had quashed the notification on the ground that the mandatory procedure, to hear the persons whose land was being acquired, was dispensed with by the Government without recording the urgency or the need for such dispensation.

A Bench comprising Justice N. Santosh Hegde, Justice Ashok Bhan and Justice A.K. Mathur while upholding the judgment held that the notification was bad in law as the inquiry proceedings under Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act had been given the go-by without any reason being recorded for that.

The Bench noted that the right of representation and hearing contemplated under Section 5 A of the Act was a very valuable right of a person whose property was sought to be acquired and he should have appropriate and reasonable opportunity of persuading the authorities concerned that the acquisition should not be made.

It further observed that the right under this provision was not an empty formality but a substantive right, which could be taken away for good and valid reason. But in this case, as rightly held by the High Court the decision of the Lt.-Governor to dispense with the Section 5 A inquiry suffered from the vice of non-application of mind.

On behalf of the Union of India it was contended that the public purpose of the acquisition in the present case was to further religious amity between the various communities and to protect ancient monuments. The Bench, however, rejected this contention holding that there was no material on record to show that there was any urgency in acquiring the land without holding the inquiry.

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