The notice in the newspapers by the Urban Estate Department of Haryana, however, mentions December 31 as the date of notification in the official gazette.
The much publicised Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act was passed by Parliament last year and was notified on January 1 this year. According to sources in the ministry, the Haryana government’s notification, even though dated December 31, has raised questions about the legality of the action, considering it was published only on January 6. Sources in the ministry say they are likely to support a petition challenging the notification in court.
“This violates the spirit of the Act. But we are unlikely to take any action suo motu…It is for the court of law to decide if this is legal and whether the acquisition should be under the old or new act, given the dates,” said a source, adding the ministry will “support” any petition filed in this respect. “Let someone go to court. We will take a legal view then,” Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh said.
Under the new Act, the retrospective clause would apply on any acquisition where awards have been made but no compensation has been paid or possession has not been taken, and hence, the compensation shall be paid at the rate prescribed under the new Act. In that sense, therefore, the retrospective clause would apply even in this case. However, if the acquisition is deemed to be under the new Act, apart from compensation at new rates, the process of consent, Social Impact Assessment, as well as Rehabilitation and Resettlement will also have to be followed. These processes did not exist under the old Act.
Haryana government officials, meanwhile, say there is no conflict since the notification was issued on December 31. “There is no conflict since the notification was published in the official gazette on December 31, a day before the old Act was repealed. The rule is that we first issue the notification and then publish it in newspapers. We followed that order. It appeared in the newspapers as per availability of space there,” said T C Gupta, principal secretary, town and country planning and urban estates department, Haryana government. When contacted, Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said he was not aware of the matter.