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SC refuses to expunge remarks against NBA

Source: PTI
October 02, 2011 15:53 IST
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The Supreme Court has refused to expunge its adverse remarks made in a judgement against Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan for misleading it on the issue of land acquisition for Omkareshwar Dam project in Madhya Pradesh.

The NBA had moved applications for expunging certain adverse remarks made by the apex court in the May 11 judgement lashing out at the NGO for making false statements in the affidavit for securing favourable order.

The apex court had also asked other courts across the country to be cautious in examining NBA's petitions.

However, the apex court, which examined the NBA's applications for expunging the remarks, disposed them of by modifying its observations.

A bench comprising justices J M Panchal, Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan said, "We reach the inescapable conclusion that the NBA has not acted with a sense of responsibility and not taken appropriate pleadings as required in law."

"However, in a PIL, the court has to strike a balance between the interests of the parties. The court has to take into consideration the pitiable condition of oustees, their poverty, inarticulateness, illiteracy, extent of backwardness, unawareness also.

"It is desirable that in future the court must view presentation of any matter by the NBA with caution and care insisting on proper pleadings, disclosure of full facts truly and fairly and should insist for an affidavit of some responsible person in support of facts contained therein," the bench said in its 14-page order.

The bench modified its remarks in which it had said in case it (court) has any doubt, it could "refuse to entertain the NBA".

The bench considered the "remorse" expressed by the counsel on behalf of the NBA that "it ought to have acted with more responsibility".

The NBA's counsel had submitted that there was no occasion for the court to pass adverse remarks in the judgement as it amounted to "blacklisting" the NGO.

The bench, which only modified its remarks, said, "The arguments advanced on behalf of applicants are not justified. The applicants (NBA) cannot be permitted to make out a new case to justify expunging of adverse remarks. More so, while making certain observation against the 'NBA' the guidelines laid by this court had strictly been observed.

"Remarks have been made as it was necessary to do so while deciding the controversy involved therein. The submission so made are not worth acceptance," Justice Panchal, writing the order for the bench, said.

The bench noted that the remarks made in the May 11 judgment were based on pleadings taken into consideration.

The apex court had made the remarks after going through the findings of an inquiry done by the District Judge of Indore who in his report said that claims made by the NBA in its affidavit were completely false.

"....the NBA has not acted with a sense of responsibility and so far succeeded in securing favourable orders by misleading the court. Such conduct cannot be approved," the bench had said.

"The tall claims made by the respondents before the high court were totally false. The High Court was not justified in entertaining their applications in this regard, without verifying the factual aspects," the court said while quashing the high court order, which was passed on the basis of averments made by the NGO.

Earlier also, the apex court had in another case disapproved of the conduct of the NBA and described it as the "most unfortunate that it had celebrated the 4th anniversary of the stoppage of work of the dam under the interim orders of the court. This court found it to be an obstruction in the way of implementing the resettlement and rehabilitation policy".

The apex court had made the remarks in a case in which it had set aside a high court judgement of 2008 for treating every major member of a family as a separate unit for allotment of rehabilitation land.

The construction of Omkareshwar Dam started in 2003. The NBA had challenged the acquisition of land in five villages -- Dhardi, Nayapura, Guwadi, Kothmir and Narsinghpura -- on the ground that the relief and rehabilitation measures had not been completed.

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