The Supreme Court stated that the interference with the policy decision would not be warranted unless it is found that the policy decision is palpably arbitrary, mala fide, irrational or violative of the statutory provisions.
A vast area of land was acquired by the State of Uttar Pradesh in Gautam Budh Nagar district for public purposes. The said area of land was acquired for the benefit of YEIDA. After the land was acquired, YEIDA invited applications for the allotment of plots of land in the area developed by it. In response to the notice inviting applications for such allotment, various allottees including the respondent applied and were allotted plots admeasuring different sizes.
The State of Uttar Pradesh had also made largescale acquisition of lands for the benefit of New Okhla Industrial Development Authority and Greater NOIDA. A number of writ petitions came to be filed by farmers challenging the said acquisition on various grounds before the Allahabad High Court. The main ground of challenge was that there was no urgency for acquiring the land and as such, invoking Section 17 of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 was not warranted.
The main contention of the appellants in the present appeals is that the said G.O. was a policy decision of the State Government, taken in public interest. It is submitted that the said policy decision was taken after taking into consideration the farmers’ agitation, the report of the Chaudhary Committee
The respondents contended that they had not given any undertaking to pay additional compensation, as stated. The term “modification/addition” with regard to payment was restricted only to any clerical or technical error.
The division bench of Justice L. Nageswara Rao and Justice B.R. Gavai found that the respondents have indulged in the conduct of approbate and reprobate. They have changed their stance as per their convenience. When their projects were stalled on account of the farmers’ agitation, it was they who approached the State Authorities for finding out a solution.
The court said that when the State Government responded to their representations and came up with a policy which was equitable and in the interest of both, the farmers and the allottees and when the said policy paved the way for development, when called upon to pay the additional compensation, the respondents allottees somersaulted and challenged the very same policy before the High Court, which benefited them.
The court noted that even insofar as the individual residential plot owners are concerned, more than 98% of the plot owners do not have any objection to the payment of the additional compensation.
The court observed that the policy decision of the State Government as reflected in the said G.O. and the Resolution of the Board of YEIDA were in the larger public interest, taking care of the concerns of the allottees as well as the farmers.
The court said that in any case, it is a settled position of law that in case of a conflict between public interest and personal interest, public interest will outweigh the personal interest. The High Court was therefore not justified in holding that the policy decision of the State was unfair, unreasonable and arbitrary.
Case title: Yamuna expressway industrial development authority etc. v/s Shakuntla Education and Welfare Society & Ors. etc.
Citation: Civil Appeal Nos.41784197 of 2022