HC strikes down GR allowing deduction of 10% land acquisition amount paid to tribals | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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HC strikes down GR allowing deduction of 10% land acquisition amount paid to tribals

Apr 16, 2022 09:45 PM IST

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday struck down a July 2010 Government Resolution (GR) issued by the state government authorising the deduction of 10% from the compensation paid to tribals for the acquisition of the Class II occupancy lands allotted to them by the government

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Wednesday struck down a July 2010 Government Resolution (GR) issued by the state government authorising the deduction of 10% from the compensation paid to tribals for the acquisition of the Class II occupancy lands allotted to them by the government.

The court noted that the lands were allotted to the tribal in perpetuity. (HT PHOTO)
The court noted that the lands were allotted to the tribal in perpetuity. (HT PHOTO)

“Only because the land given to the tribal is Occupancy Class II land, that itself would not empower and/or authorize the State to deduct 10% from the compensation amount payable to the petitioners on account of compulsory acquisition,” said the division bench of justice SV Gangapurwala and justice Vinay Joshi, striking down the GR issued on July 15, 2010.

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“The same does not stand to any reason and erodes upon the occupancy rights of the petitioners,” the bench added.

The court was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by tribals from Vasai. They approached the high court questioning the validity of the GR, after 10% of the amount payable to them as compensation for land acquisition was deducted. They contended that though there are restrictions on their holdings since it was a compulsory acquisition, the government had no right to withhold and/or deduct 10% of the compensation.

The government responded to the petitions, arguing that, under two earlier GRs the permission to sell agricultural land held on a Class II occupancy basis is granted on the condition that the landholder shall pay to the Government 50% of the net unearned income. But, in the case of acquisitions, since the tribals are not willingly selling the lands, the government took a conscious decision to deduct only 10% of the compensation, as scheduled tribes are protected by law and are a weaker section of the society.

The argument, however, failed to impress upon the court.

The court noted that the lands were allotted to the tribal in perpetuity. “In case of compulsory acquisition of the lands for a public purpose, the occupier or owner of the land does not have any voice,” said the bench. “He has to yield to the acquisition.”

In case of compulsory acquisition, the petitioners even if they are reluctant to part with the properties have no option but to divest their rights over the properties which are the source of their livelihood, said the court, adding that it would be inequitable for the government to retain 10% amount from the amount of compensation payable to the tribal.

“Moreover, no source of power exists with the Government to retain 10% of the compensation payable to tribal,” said the bench, adding that neither the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code nor the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 authorise the State to deduct 10% amount from the amount of compensation payable to tribal.

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