Reprieve for Adani Group as Supreme Court stays Gujarat HC order to reclaim land

  • The Gujarat High Court had ordered the Gujarat government to return to farmers 108 hectares of grazing land allotted to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone.
  • The Gujarat government had allotted the land in 2005 but villagers became aware of it only in 2010 when APSEZ began fencing the area.

Krishna Yadav
Published10 Jul 2024, 02:07 PM IST
The case originated 13 years ago when residents of Navinal village in Gujarat filed a public interest litigation against the Gujarat government’s decision to allot 231 acres of grazing land to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone.
The case originated 13 years ago when residents of Navinal village in Gujarat filed a public interest litigation against the Gujarat government’s decision to allot 231 acres of grazing land to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone.

In a relief to the Adani Group, the Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the Gujarat High Court’s decision to allow the Gujarat government to return 108 hectares of grazing land to villagers near Mundra port in Kutch district.

The bench, comprising Justices B.R. Gavai and K.V. Viswanathan, stayed the order and issued a notice after considering a plea from senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi representing the Adani entity, arguing that the High Court had passed the order without giving the company a chance to be heard.

“He (Mukul Rohatgi) states that though the counsel for the petitioner was present before the High Court and attempted to make submissions, he was not heard by the High Court. Issue notice, and there shall we stay the impugned order,” Justice Gavai remarked.

Also read | Norway fund giant Norges cuts off Adani Ports

Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZ) had challenged the Gujarat High Court’s 5 July order mandating the return of 108 hectares of grazing land to farmers.

In the farmers’ favour

The case originated 13 years ago when residents of Navinal village filed a public interest litigation against the Gujarat government’s decision to allot 231 acres of grazing land to APSEZ.

The Gujarat High Court had ruled in favour of the villagers based on an affidavit from the Gujarat department of revenue’s additional chief secretary.

In the affidavit, the revenue department had pledged that the state had decided to reclaim nearly 108 hectares from APSEZ and replenish 129 hectares of grazing land using a combination of government and reclaimed land.

This decision followed an April 2024 directive from a Gujarat High Court division bench that instructed the additional chief secretary to find a solution.

'Blatant breach of justice'

Adani Ports stated in its plea before the Supreme Court that the Gujarat High Court’s order was a “blatant breach of natural justice”. The company said the order took away its legally transferred land without giving it a fair chance to present its case.

Adani Ports also mentioned that compensation was paid to villagers nearly 19 years ago, totaling 3.7 million, plus a 30% premium of 1.1 million, as per a 1999 government resolution.

Since 2005, Adani Ports has utilized the land for various activities and made significant investments in corporate social responsibility initiatives, it added.

The company also argued that 14 acres of the land already had been used for high-tension towers, with plans for 50 acres more, crucial for transmitting power to special economic zone units. Not halting the high court’s order would severely impact its operations, Adani Ports added.

A late discovery

The dispute dates back to 2005 when the state revenue department first allotted the land to APSEZ. Villagers became aware of the allocation in 2010 when APSEZ began fencing the area.

The villagers argued that the allocation left them with only 45 acres of grazing land, which was insufficient, and that the allocation to APSEZ was illegal as the land was a communal resource.

In 2014, the Gujarat High Court disposed of the initial PIL after the state government assured that additional grazing land would be provided. However, when this did not occur, a contempt petition was filed in the High Court against the government.

In 2015, the state government submitted a review petition to the Gujarat High Court, arguing that only 17 hectares of land were available for allocation to the panchayat.

Also read | Adani Ports or JSW Infra: Which is the better ports stock?

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First Published:10 Jul 2024, 02:07 PM IST
HomeCompaniesReprieve for Adani Group as Supreme Court stays Gujarat HC order to reclaim land

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