Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Wednesday came down heavily on the state government for creating land banks in prime locations of the city for the purpose of selling them to mobilise funds. It asked if the government wanted to sell lands on the ground that these lands were prone to encroachments.
However, the court declined to issue stay orders on the e-auction of the land parcels located in Kokapet (44 acres) and Khanamet (14 acres), which are scheduled to be auctioned on Thursday.
A division bench headed by Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy was adjudicating the PIL filed by Vijayashanti, actress and BJP leader, seeking a stay on GO. 13, dated 10 June 2021 through which the state government intends to sell land parcels in Kokapet, Khanamet and other parts of the state for generating revenue of Rs. 50,000 crore.
S. Niranjan Reddy, appearing for the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) informed the court that an earlier division bench of the High Court had dealt with the similar issue in another PIL and passed orders which were in favour of the government. Earlier, the High Court held that the government was well within its power to create such a policy to sell the lands in order to avoid possible encroachments of the land parcels and such lands were not required for public purpose.
Niranjan Reddy further informed the bench that this issue had already been tested before an earlier bench and upheld by it and GO. No. 13 which was under challenge now, was the continuation of GO. No. 191 which was issued in 2015. He said standard operating procedures were formulated for sale of such lands following from GO. 191 itself.
Rajesh Thallapally, counsel for Vijayashanti informed the chief justice that the GO.191 clearly spoke of creating a land bank of 1,000 acres whereas the Telangana government was trying to sell the costly lands in Kokapet and Khanamet to mobilise funds. In spite of creating land banks for public purposes and to save them, the government wanted to sell them, the counsel submitted. He said the Telangana government was not in a position to protect lands from encroachers and asked how it would protect the public.
Justice Kohli questioned advocate general B.S. Prasad as to why the government intended to create a land bank of 1,000 acres, when it cannot protect its own lands as they are in prime locations and when the government feels that as the lands are in prime locations, it can be encroached upon. “The GO 191 doesn’t talk about saving the lands, it talks about selling the lands,” Kohli observed.
Prasad informed the bench that the decision had been taken by the Cabinet for resource mobilisation by selling land parcels through e-auction. Even the Central government was also doing the same and the respective state governments were well within their powers for making such policies.
The bench observed that if at all the court passed any orders in this issue, there would be a steep fall in prices of lands in the state and the court did not want the state exchequer to get into losses. As the advocate general informed the court that further no process of e-auction was scheduled in near future, the bench said it did not incline to stay the e-auction of land parcels in Kokapet and Khanamet which was going to be conducted on Thursday....