The Allahabad high court on Tuesday ordered restoration of land to farmers, whose agricultural land was acquired by the Greater Noida Authority in 2008.
According to a court official, "The land was acquired for residential purposes in June 2008 in Patwari village under Dadri Tehsil of what is known as Gautam Budh Nagar district in the neighbourhood of the national capital New Delhi."
He said, "The acquisition proceedings were carried out with unusual haste -- while the notice for acquisition was issued on March 12, 2008, the entire chunk of land was formally taken over by the Greater Noida Authority over the next three months on June 30."
The affected farmers, however, got together to move the Allahabad high court, raising various issues, including the bypassing of procedures to quickly take over the land.
While quashing the acquisition proceedings, a division bench comprising Justice Sunil Ambwani and Justice SS Tiwari felt that even though the land was purported to be acquired for residential housing , that could not be treated as a 'public purpose'.
The order comes close on the heels of two similar orders, whereby acquired land was directed to be returned to its owners in the same vicinity earlier last month.
However, this order was stated to be in sharp contrast to two separate orders of different benches of the Allahabad high court that upheld certain acquisitions in the same region.
According to state government chief standing counsel MC Chaturvedi, "While the first order came from a division bench comprising Justice Arun Tandon and Justice AP Shahi on November 2008, the second order was issued by another division bench comprising Justice PC Verma and Justice R.A.Singh three months later."
He said, "Special appeals were pending against both these judgments before the apex court."
Meanwhile, a couple of more such petitions of other farmers were to come up for hearing over the coming days.
As many as 1,600 farmers were affected by the acquisition in the area, where the Greater Noida authority had acquired 589 hectares of land over the past three years.
The recent months have witnessed loud protests and demonstrations by farmers against the acquisition, prompting even Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to undertake a long march in support of the echoing demands of farmers of the region.