A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavili directed the Telangana government to fulfil its promise to the farmers within three months. (Representational Image/ DC)
Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court came to the rescue of farmers whose lands were acquired in 1963 for public purpose with a promise of providing alternative lands. Though the promise was made, the state government let them down by changing its stand on alternative land proposal.
Even two decades after acquiring the lands, the government neither handed over the alternative land nor paid compensation. When the farmers approached the High Court to get their rightful lands, the state argued that it was in possession of the land for more than 42 years and contended that the farmers did not have the right to claim, because they delayed around two decades in filing the petition.
A division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Abhinand Kumar Shavili directed the Telangana government to fulfil its promise to the farmers within three months.
Faulting the stand of state, the court observed, "In a democratic polity governed by the rule of law, the state could not have deprived the citizens of their property without the sanction of the law. The state must comply with the procedure for acquisition, requisition or any other permissible statutory mode. The state being governed by the rule of law cannot arrogate to itself a status beyond what is provided by the Constitution."
It also said that the contention advanced by the state of delay of farmers in moving the court was also liable to be rejected. Delay and lapses could not be raised in a case of a continuing cause of action. The delay was a matter of judicial discretion, which must be exercised judiciously and reasonably, the bench said. "There is no period of limitation prescribed for courts to exercise their constitutional jurisdiction to do substantial justice," the court said.
The bench made these observations and directions in an issue of the title holders of the property situated in Gangupudi village, Chandrugonda mandal in Khammam district. Their lands were acquired for construction of a tank in the village in 1963. The authorities, at the time, assured the farmers that they would receive compensation by way of allotment of alternative land and however, no compensation was paid to them. As the promise made to them was not fulfilled, the farmers chose to go for legal remedies in 1993. The single judge had directed the state to fulfil the promise, but it preferred an appeal. The division bench upheld the single judge orders and directed the state to fulfil it within three months.