Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project: SC gives green signal for land acquisition, dismisses Godrej & Boyce's plea

Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train Project: SC gives green signal for land acquisition, dismisses Godrej & Boyce's plea

The apex court also granted liberty to the company to seek legal recourse for enhancement of the compensation.

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Friday, February 24, 2023, 03:42 PM IST
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'Bullet train is national project': SC dismisses Godrej & Boyce's plea for higher compensation | PTI

The final hurdle in the Mumbai-Ahmedabad Bullet Train project was cleared on Friday with the Supreme Court dismissing an appeal filed by Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co. Ltd challenging the order of the Bombay High Court allowing the Maharashtra government to go ahead with the land acquisition proceedings of the company’s loans in suburban Vikhroli for the Bullet Train project.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, said that the plea challenging the acquisition of the plot for which possession had already been taken by the government and construction had already started, could not be entertained.

Company has liberty to claim enhancement of compensation

The bench has, however, clarified that the company had the liberty to claim enhancement of compensation for the plot. The court said that on the filing of a reference by the company on the enhancement of compensation, the jurisdictional court shall decide upon the same within a period of six weeks.

CJI Chandrachud said: “We will give you (Godrej) liberty, which you anyway have, that your claim for compensation be resolved at the earliest. We will sit down a period of six months for that. This is only a question of money. This is a national project.”

The apex court was hearing an appeal filed by Godrej challenging the February 9 order of the Bombay High Court which upheld the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the government and the compensation awarded for the same.

Godrej had first approached the HC challenging the September 2022 order of the State government awarding Rs 264 crores in return for acquiring 39,252 sqm (9.69 acre) of its land for the project. It claimed the amount was a fraction of the initial offering of Rs. 572 crores.

The company had challenged the amendment to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, after which the bullet train project had been made exempt from any social impact assessment to be carried out by experts.

The government opposed the plea contending that the project was of national importance and that the company was delaying the project. It claimed that the State Government is in possession of all the other land and only the portion belonging to Godrej was not in its possession.

The Bombay HC, on February 9, had dismissed Godrej’s plea observing that the project was a "dream project of this country” and of “national importance and being a project in public interest” The court also said that the project was “one-of-its-kind” and collective interest would ultimately prevail over private interest.”

The dispute over ownership of over 3,000 acres of land has been pending between the government and Godrej since 1973. The dispute over the land acquisition for the bullet project has been going on since 2019.

Of the total 508.17 kilometres of rail track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, 21 km is planned to be underground. One of the entry points to the underground tunnel falls on the land at Vikhroli (owned by Godrej).

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