NEW DELHI :  A land acquisition dispute of Jaipur going on since 1984 has been settled by the Supreme Court in favour of the original landowners. The land belonging to the Bairwas, a Scheduled Caste community, was acquired on January 12, 1984, for housing but the dispute went on for the past three decades because of a housing society claiming the compensation on the ground that it had bought the land and even obtained an NOC (no-objection certificate) in June 1982.

A 3-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu on Friday dismissed the claim of the New Pink City Nirman Sahkari Samiti Limited and ordered the state housing board to pay the Bairwa khatedars or their legal representatives compensation at the rate of Rs 100 per sq yard, within three months along with other permissible statutory benefits.

The Bench, which also included Justices A K Sikri and Arun Mishra, also set aside the Rajasthan High Court’s direction to grant 25% of the developed land to the society. It held the transactions made by the society for buying land from the Bairwas as invalid under the Rajasthan Tenancy Act. The judgment was written by Justice Arun Mishra on behalf of the Bench.

“The plight of downtrodden class of the Scheduled Castes Khatedars cannot be prolonged and considering the provisions which have been enacted for their protection, and the constitutional mandate, we are inclined to exercise our power to set at rest the dispute between the parties and hold that only Khatedars, in case some of them have died, their legal representatives would be entitled to receive the compensation which has been determined in the instant case,” the Apex Court said.

It also stressed that “in order to protect the interest of the Scheduled Caste persons, we further direct that the society or other intermeddler, or power of attorney holder, shall not be paid compensation on their behalf.” It directed the collector/land acquisition officer to ensure disbursement of compensation directly to the Khatedars or their legal representatives and not deprive them “by any unscrupulous devices of the land grabbers.”

The civil court, which had heard the case originally, had fixed the compensation at Rs 260 per sq yard, but the same was reduced to Rs 100 per sq yard by a single judge of the High Court on 22.3.1999 and the same was upheld by the division bench of the High Court on Oct 29, 2009.

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