The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Maharashtra government to “refrain from taking possession” of land belonging to Godrej & Boyce at suburban Vikhroli for the Mumbai- Ahmedabad Bullet Train project.
The apex court direction came while hearing an appeal filed by Godrej challenging the order of the Bombay High Court which upheld the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the government and the compensation awarded for the same.
Godrej’s appeal hearing on February 24
“Given the express reservation of ‘all rights and contentions of the respective parties’ to the First Writ Petition by the order dated 4th September, 2019 the Division Bench erred in holding that Godrej (Petitioner) was estopped from challenging the acquisition and that Godrej (Petitioner) has no locus to challenge the acquisition,” reads the appeal.
It further adds: “The Learned (HC) Judges failed to appreciate that Godrej's (Petitioner) letters dated 19th April, 2018 and 3r May, 2018 which stated that the composite offer of alternate lad was subject. to the appropriate Government complying with Chapters I and IV of the Fair Compensation Act.”
Godrej had first approached the HC challenging the September 2022 order of the State government awarding Rs 264 crores in return for acquiring its land for the project.
Centre says Godrej delaying project
Opposing the plea, the central and the state government contended 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 challenging the land acquisition proceedings by the government, observing that the project was as a "dream project of this country” and of “national importance and being a project in public interest.”
Bullet train project
A division bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and Milind Sathaye had observed: “In our view the bullet train project is an infrastructural project of national importance, a large numbers of public would be benefited and would have saved other benefits for betterment of this country.” The court also said that the project was “one-of-its-kind” and collective interest would ultimately prevail over private interest.
Of the total 508.17 kilometres of rail track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, about 21 km is planned to be underground. One of the entry points to the underground tunnel falls on the land in Vikhroli (owned by Godrej).
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