Kerala HC lifts the stay on land survey proceedings of Kerala government and K-Rail (Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited) for Silverline Project

Kerala HC lifts the stay on land survey proceedings of Kerala government and K-Rail (Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited) for Silverline Project

The Kerala High Court lifted the stay on land survey proceedings of Kerala government and K-Rail (Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited) for Silverline Project.

Background 

Respondents/writ petitioners have filed the writ petitions to quash Government Orders, issued by the Chief Secretary to the Government, State of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, and restrain the respondents and their instrumentalities, from entering into the properties of the writ petitioners/respondents, for the purpose of demarcating the boundaries for acquiring the properties of the writ petitioners, for Kerala Rail Development Corporation Limited Thiruvananthapuram, represented by its Managing Director, until the Union of India and Railway Board or their instrumentalities issue appropriate notification, as contemplated under the provisions of the Railways Act, 1989, for the ends of justice. 

Arguments 

The appellants contended that the State Government is vested with ample powers to issue notifications under Section 6 of the Kerala Survey and Boundaries Act, 1961, which are under challenge in the writ petitions, for conducting survey of the properties, in order to carry out the mandatory requirements contained under Section 4 of the LARR Act, 2013.

Gopalakrishna Kurup, Advocate General, contended that the attempt of the writ petitioners is to scuttle the project as such, and that the State Government and its officials will not do anything to acquire the lands, without following the procedure contemplated under the Act, 2013.

He contended that while passing the impugned interim order, the single Judge ought to have accepted the contention of the State Government that the present survey is for the purpose of demarcating the boundary of the project alignment for SIA study.  

The writ petitioners/party respondents urged that the State Government and its authorized officers are not vested with the powers to enter into the properties, conduct survey and lay concrete poles for the purpose of conducting SIA study and such things can only be done after undergoing the procedures contemplated under Sections 11 and 12 of the LARR, 2013, coming under Chapter IV dealing with notification and acquisition.

Decision 

The division bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P. Chaly stated that the provisions of Railways Act, 1989, would come into play and apply only if the project is a ‘special railway project’, covering one or more States. 

The court said that to attract the said provision, the Semi High Speed Rail Corridor should cover at least one State, apart from the State which envisages the project. Definitely, if such a situation arises as per the LARR Act, 2013 and Railways Act, 1989, the appropriate Government would be the Central Government.

The court held that the State Government is vested with adequate powers to conduct the survey, and mark the properties appropriately, for conducting the Social Impact Assessment study, and also set aside the impugned interim order passed by the single Judge, interdicting the survey and marking of the properties in question, after issuing appropriate notifications by the State Government under the provisions of Kerala Survey and Boundaries Act, 1961, and the rules framed thereunder.

Case title: State of Kerala v/s Binu Sebastian and Ors.

Citation: WA NO. 169 OF 2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment

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