HC dismisses challenge to NHAI project, cities ‘larger public interest’.

Upholding a single bench order, the Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed the LPA (Letter Patents Appeal) in a matter regarding compensation over NHAI land acquisition. The court held, “Where larger interest of public is involved, sanctity of date of completion of the project for construction and relevance or importance cannot be ignored on account of few numbered litigants, who are contesting only for the sake of determination of appropriate compensation.” The appeal against the single bench order of the HC was filed by Manjit Singh and others asking that the NHAI be directed to pass rehabilitation and resettlement award, and that the possession be protected apart from providing infrastructural and other basic amenities in the proposed area of resettlement. Counsel for the NHAI, Advocate Raghujeet Singh Madan, said that the Authority was well within its legal right and is, in fact, under obligation to take possession of the acquired property under law. He argued that the grievance is only confined to compensation part and therefore, grant of stay on the project is absolutely unwarranted and against the public interest at large. The division Bench of Justice Augustine George Masih and Justice Sandeep Moudgil, after hearing the matter, said that there is no dispute to the fact that the question involved in the writ petition before the learned single judge was only qua the compensation that too specifically confined to the rehabilitation and resettlement purposes whereas there is no challenge to the acquisition proceedings. The bench said: “Widening and four-lanning etc. of National Highways are such infrastructural projects of national importance which cannot be put to question at all and there is no hitch to record that the land in question has been acquired for development and progress of National Highway. It is also a fact that the land in question is urgently required for completion of bridge, which is necessary for the safety of road users and that particular stretch is accident and traffic hazard prone, as the traffic is passing through the diversions/service roads.”

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