THE Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday quashed the Haryana government’s decision to transfer 350 acres of land in Gurgaon, which had ostensibly been acquired for public welfare, to DLF for development of a residential society, commercial facilities, sports activity and a golf course.
“The allotment of the acquired land to DLF on February 9, 2010, is disapproved as the transfer was not fair, just and reasonable,” ruled a division bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Amol Rattan Singh.
While it upheld the land acquisition, the court directed the Haryana government to conduct an auction of the land by inviting international bids. “The court has ordered that international bidders should be involved in the fresh process. DLF is allowed to participate in the new process,” said Sudhanshu Makkar, advocate for one of the petitioners.
The court gave the Haryana government and the Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited one month to appoint a consultant who should, within two months of his appointment, prepare a report so that fresh bidding can be carried out within six months.
“The consultant should give an undertaking that he is not related to any bidder in any way,” said the court. He should formulate guidelines which should not favour any of the prospective bidders, it said.
Meanwhile, a DLF spokesperson said, “DLF won this land in an international competitive bid conducted twice by the government of Haryana in 2009-10. As a copy of the order is awaited, we wish to clarify that it will have no bearing on any of our completed or ongoing projects. This land was to be developed in the future. After reading the order and taking legal advice, we will take appropriate steps.”
In 2003, the Haryana government had acquired 278-acre forest land in Gurgaon, ostensibly for public welfare. But in 2010, the state government transferred the land to DLF after a bidding process.
Six petitions were filed in the High Court by land owners and panchayats challenging the acquisition and the government’s decision to transfer the land to DLF. They said that according to the Forest Conservation Act, the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s permission is required for using the land for commercial purposes. The petitioners stated that another 75 acres, acquired by HSIIDC in 1997, was also transferred to DLF in 2010 in a similar fashion.