SC notice to Centre on plea over land ordinance

New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the central government on a petition challenging the second re-promulgation of the land ordinance to amend the 2013 land acquisition law to ease the process of land acquisition.

The bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel issued notice after counsel Indira Jaisingh told the court that the government’s action makes a mockery of the Constitution as the ordinance was issued when parliament was in session.

The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Second Ordinance, 2015, re-promulgated on May 30, was challenged by the petitioner Delhi Grameen Samaj which had earlier moved the court contesting the land ordinance and also its first re-promulgation.

While issuing notice, the apex court noted that the government was yet to respond to the earlier two, when the ordinance and the re-promulgation was challenged by the Delhi Grameen Samaj.

The petitioner said in the plea that the second re-promulgation of the land ordinance was in blatant contravention of the provisions of article 123 of the Constitution and in complete disregard to all norms of constitutional propriety.

Describing the re-promulgation as a “defiant act”, the petitioner contended that the central government repeated its act when consideration of the challenge to the ordinance was pending with the court.

The apex court on April 13 issued notice to the central government on the plea challenging the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (Amendment) Ordinance, 2015.

Contending that the government was trying to govern the country through “ordinance raj”, the petitioner said the government’s action was in “complete contravention of the basic Constitutional ethos that law making function is of parliament”.

It said the government’s action in “promulgating successive ordinances bypassing the legislative process of parliament is not only arbitrary and violative of article 14 of the Constitution but is also a fraud on the Constitution itself”.

The promulgation of the land ordinance and its re-promulgation was a “text book example of blatant abuse of the powers vested under article 123 of the Constitution”, the petition said.

The petitioner organisation further said “the third ordinance to be passed successively in the last six months by the central government in its attempt to thrust a land acquisition law in the country which does not have the sanction of parliament”.

Pointing out that land ordinance was being examined by a joint committee of parliament, the Delhi Grameen Samaj said “article 123 is intended to be exercised only in emergent situations”, and the fact that the amendment bill has been referred to a joint parliamentary committee “is not and cannot be a justification for issuing the impugned ordinance and trying to foist upon this country governance by Ordinance Raj”.

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