In a groundbreaking legal decision, the Allahabad High Court has ruled that the Uttar Pradesh government must pay a substantial cost of Rs. 5 lakhs in response to the illegal acquisition of land that belonged to a widow in 1998. This ruling was primarily based on the severe harassment endured by the widow during her struggle to obtain compensation for the unlawful possession of her property by the State Public Works Department.

The Allahabad High Court, consisting of Justice Salil Kumar Rai and Justice Arun Kumar Singh Deshwal, delivered a powerful judgment emphasizing that no individual should be deprived of their property without proper due process. In this case, the widow had been relentlessly compelled to approach the court multiple times under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution due to the inhuman conduct and approach of the State Authorities. It is evident from the court’s ruling that the petitioner’s ordeal was indeed relentless, and the authorities acted insensitively by insisting that she was not entitled to any compensation, based on their belief that she had already received the market value of her plot.

The petitioner, who claimed ownership of a plot located in Lakhanpur, had legitimate rights over the land, as it was officially recorded in the Khatauni. However, in 1998, the State Public Works Department proceeded to seize possession of these plots without officially acquiring them. The acquisition took place without adhering to the mandatory procedures stipulated by the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, or any other relevant statute. Despite numerous representations and appeals for fair compensation, the petitioner’s cries fell on deaf ears, and she was denied her rightful dues.

The petitioner’s quest for compensation was met with a series of orders and decisions from various authorities, all of which indicated that she was entitled to receive compensation. Yet, in a frustrating turn of events, no actual compensation was ever provided to the petitioner. Consequently, the petitioner had no choice but to resort to the courts once again, seeking justice and the rightful compensation that she was undeniably owed.

Upon reviewing the petitioner’s case, the Allahabad High Court was compelled to reflect on a stark reality. While some compensation had indeed been paid to the petitioner, the total amount she had received fell short of the market value of the plots. The court observed that, even when adopting the circle rate as a basis for calculation, the petitioner had only received an amount of Rs. 3,28,000, which was less than the prevailing market value.

The petitioner vehemently contended that the possession of her land had been taken unlawfully, without the due process of the law, and in violation of her constitutionally protected right under Article 300-A of the Indian Constitution. She asserted that, in accordance with Section 23 of the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, she was unquestionably entitled to compensation calculated at the prevailing market rate of her plots.

In contrast, the State authorities argued that the petitioner had already been paid the market value of her plot, and thus, they maintained that the petition should be promptly dismissed. The court, however, found it difficult to reconcile this position with the facts and circumstances of the case. It highlighted the fact that no area of the petitioner’s plot remained unutilized, and the compensation paid did not even meet the prevailing market rate. This revelation, in essence, discredited the State’s position and revealed a flaw in their argument.

Moreover, the court referenced landmark judgments of the Supreme Court, underscoring that the deprivation of property rights should only occur through the proper legal channels and established statutory procedures. It is not a matter that can be resolved arbitrarily or through executive fiat.

The petitioner’s case was further strengthened by invoking the ruling of the Supreme Court in Delhi Airtech Services Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. Vs. State of U.P. & Anr., where it was established that compensation for land acquired in 1988 should be calculated as per the provisions of the 1984 Act. Therefore, considering that the possession of the land was taken in 1988, the market value should be determined as of the date of the award, and compensation must be calculated in accordance with the Act of 1984.

Consequently, in a final and resounding decision, the Allahabad High Court ordered the calculation of compensation owed to the petitioner, interest, and the total payment. These calculations were to be executed within specific timeframes, guaranteeing that the petitioner would finally receive the compensation rightfully owed to her.

The judgment delivered by the Allahabad High Court in this case stands as a landmark ruling in the realm of property rights. It emphatically underscores the principle that property should not be dispossessed without proper due process. The court’s decision sets a significant precedent, reaffirming the importance of adhering to statutory procedures, protecting property rights, and ensuring that citizens receive fair and just compensation when their land is acquired for public purposes.

This case demonstrates the significance of upholding property rights and the legal and ethical responsibilities of the state in land acquisition matters. The ruling also serves as a clear warning against arbitrary actions and unlawful land grabs, reiterating the fundamental principles of justice and the rule of law.

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