The Bombay High Court on Thursday said the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project is of 'national importance and in public interest', and dismissed a petition filed by Godrej & Boyce company challenging acquisition proceedings initiated by the Maharashtra government and the National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL) in Mumbai's Vikhroli area for the project.
The Maharashtra government and the (NHSRCL) had claimed the company was delaying the entire project which was of public importance.
A division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and M M Sathaye said the project was one-of-its-kind and collective interest would prevail over private interest.
Of the total 508.17 kilometres of rail track between Mumbai and Ahmedabad, about 21 km is planned to be underground.
One of the entry points to the underground tunnel falls on the land in Vikhroli (owned by Godrej).
The state government and the NHSRCL had claimed the company was delaying the entire project which was of public importance.
The authorities had told the HC that the acquisition process of the entire line for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad bullet train project was complete except the land owned by Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Company Limited in Vikhroli area.
The company and the government have been embroiled in a legal dispute over acquisition of the company-owned land in Vikhroli area of Mumbai for the bullet train project since 2019.
The state government had earlier informed the court that it has already deposited the Rs 264 crore compensation amount awarded to the company in October last year.
The Godrej & Boyce Manufacturing Co Ltd had filed a petition challenging an order of September 15, 2022 passed by the Maharashtra government awarding compensation to it for land acquisition for the bullet train project.
It had termed the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the state government as 'unlawful' and claimed there were 'multiple and patent illegalities' in the same.
The HC bench, however, said it has not found any illegality in the compensation or proceedings initiated by the authorities.
'The project is of national importance and in public interest. We have not found any illegality in the compensation. It is the paramount collective interest that would prevail and not private interest,' the court said.
The company has not made out a case for the court to exercise its powers and hence no interference is required, it added.
Senior counsel Navroz Seervai, appearing for the company, sought the HC to stay its order for a period of two weeks so that they could approach the Supreme Court in appeal.
The bench, however, refused to stay its order.
The company had earlier sought the HC to direct the state government not to proceed towards the award passed and initiation possession proceedings.
It said the award granted by the government was 'ex facie illegal and hence a nullity'.
It also refuted the allegations made by the government and the NHSRCL that the company was causing unnecessary delay in the project.