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A legal fiasco, the Vedanta University and its adversaries

November 17, 2010

Mohan, mdashf


I have been working all night and posted an article about the fate of Vedanta University as I hear it from the nuisances of my head. From the online communication over night, the news that shocked me but did not surprise me was how the  honorable High Court of Odisha located in its ancient city Katak (See you tt ACK, cuttack) ruled a decree.

This news is in the morning daily Dharitri and I will translate this into my English so that the English mongers may understand what’s the regional vibe.

Head Line, High Courts shock to Vedanta University Project.  RETURN THE LAND.

Katak Office, 16, 11

Vedanta has received a shock again. This shock has been delivered by the honorable High Court. The High Court has canceled the Governments land acquisition in the Puri Seacoast for Anil Agarwals Vedanta University Project holding it illegal. The Government has been instructed to return this acquired land to the people. As consequential to the cancellation of Niyamgiri Environmental permission, this ruling of the High Court has invalidated the Vedanta’s plans of establishing the biggest University in the nation. The justice body of chief justice V. Gopala Gauda and justice Bimala Prasad Das disclosed their ruling to declare the terminal notification for land acquisition as illegal (unlawful). In addition to that they have invalidated the clause 4(1) and (6) of the said notification. In the same lines they have invalidated the terminal notification for acquisition according to clause 5 of the Governmental land provision code (rules) and have instructed the Government clearly by their ruling to reverse the acquisition of the said land, which was provided on a lease term. In his ruling the Court has brought it to notice as a violation of land acquisition regulations.

(((Odiya to English is not a straightforward translation except for the primitive words.)))

Its to be brought to notice that the land acquisition for Vedanta by the Government was argued to be illegal by a group of petitioners namely Mr. Umaballava Ratha, Mr.  Rajeev Pujari, Mr. Arun Kumar Pradhan, Mr. Surendra Gochhayata, Mr.  Parsuram Pradhan, Mr.  Jayram Swain and others who moved the court on more than one petition and prayed (appealed), the Court for suitable justice. The petitioners had alleged that the Odisha state Government had notified in 2007 for the acquisition of land. (Continued) It was decided that Vedanta would be provided with 8000 acres of land in the Puri seacoast. In the first phase the Government had notified for acquisition of 6000 acres of land in 2007. The land was acquired by deception. These lands were in Forest Land ownership, of which 13 acres of land were identified as temple land of Puri Shree Jagannath. It was also alleged that the Government owned 700 acres of land. It is to be noted that this land acquisition violated the 1984 land acquisition rules. The state Royalty (Rajaswa) Department Officers executed land acquisition dishonoring all Rules and Regulations, which was alleged to be illegal. The petitioners specifically mentioned the indiscriminate violation of the environmental safety regulations. Apart from that it was not considered that the said lands were in Forest Land ownership. The petitioners had also alleged that it is unlawful that wild animal safety regulations were not honored for acquiring the land for the Vedanta University. It was feared that seacoast would be endangered and rare wild animals would extinct.

(((An University would cause so much damage, these folks must be some kind fortune teller or they don’t understand what an University is)))

It was also mentioned that there is a sufficient likelihood that the environment would get polluted and the sanctuary located there would be wiped out. It was mentioned by the petitioners in their petition that the Vedanta Incorporations land acquisition is illegal and based on forgery and conspiracy to dishonor the regulations. The justice body of the state High Court of Odisha has therefore taken into consideration all the above allegations and ruled the return of the land acquired. This case was coordinated by advocate general Mr Ashok Mahanty on behalf of the state Government of Odisha and chiefly by Mr Sudhir Palit, Mr Rajat Rath, Mr Chinmaya Mishra and Mr B.B. Mahanty on behalf of the petitioners.

The truth from another perspective, about the high court judgment

on Vedanta University

Just an hour ago I translated the news about Odisha state High Courts decree on the Vedanta University Projects Foundation, formally called the AAF, Anil Agarwal Foundation, from its Odiya daily Dharitri to English in line with the tone and texture of the news piece. The Hindu, which is a morning daily in English, has the same news on page 13 and I am copying the contents by hand so that the different angles of truth as represented by different sources of news can be clear. If possible I will try to make another translation from the English original of The Hindu, to make it look like how I would have written this account given the later as an input, so as to reflect my own understanding of the news piece to deal with the subjectivity of the The Hindu edition. We will have 3 English editions at our disposal.

Here is the news in The Hindu, the original version.

HEAD line, Orissa High Court quashes land acquisition for Vedanta University.

Pradip Kumar Das. CUTTACK.

The Orissa High Court on Tuesday quashed all the land acquisition procedures for the Vedanta University that was proposed to be established on a sprawling 8,000 acres near the Konark Puri Marine drive.

Terming the State Governments notifications made to acquire and award the land in favor of the Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) for the proposed varsity as illegal and bad in the eye of law, a Division Bench of the court comprising Chief Justice, v. Gopala Gowda  and Justice B.P. Das directed the Foundation to return the acquired land to its original owners. The ruling of the High Court came while adjudicating jointly at least two public interest litigation petitions (PILs) and seven individual writ petitions, including one by Umaballav Rath, a former legislator from Puri and Chinmaya Kumar Mishra, a lawyer.

FLOUTED LAWS

The petitioners challenged the setting up of the proposed university on several grounds including that of the acquisitions sprocesses, which were made in violation of the provisions of the land acquisitions act 1894, land Acquisition (Amendment) Act 1984 and Land Acquisition (Companies) Rules 1963. They also contested the university project submitting that it would have an extreme debilitating impact on the eco system, sand varied diversity in the locality.

Similarly, they challenged the status of the Anil Agarwal Foundation that was changed to a public company from a private company called Vedanta Foundation in June, 2006 for the very purpose of acquiring land.

Urging the High Court to quash the land acquisition notifications, the petitioners also prayed for quashing of the MoU signed by the State government for the proposed University with Vedanta Foundation on July 19, 2006, which subsequently became the Anil Agarwal Foundation on September 6, 2006. Taking up the batch of petitions for joint hearings, the court in its more than 100 page judgment framed at least 17 issues sand discussing each of them sindividually found that the proposed project was at fault on all the counts. Sterlite Foundation, a private limited company which subsequently changed to Vedanta Foundation, in 2004, signed the MoU with the State government to set up the University on 15,000 acres near the Konark Puri marine drive.

The varsity was to have undergraduate and postgraduate courses in engineering, medicine, management, general science and humanities.

Accordingly, the State government confirmed the availability of 8,000 acres of contiguous land for the university and subsequently made notifications to acquire over 6,500 acres, including over 1,300 acres belonging to the Lord Jagannath temple.

DISCLAIMER, The following is not for any legal purposes. This is for the purposes of readership on my (author ManmohanDash) word press blog site where I put some articles on a freelance basis for the purposes of bringing more clarity to issues, based on my personal experiences and opinions. If you have a trouble of any kind please consider this is only for personal discussion. This is more of my personal opinions but as I have noted above this is on the input of the The Hindu news piece of today and edited with my remarks and opinions to reflect the difference of opinion from 3 different sources. The following is therefore entirely edited to reflect my opinion but actually based on the original Hindu piece and to my knowledge does not violate any legal stature. Its not a distribution. Just a news discussion.

HEAD line, Odisha State High Court has severely reprimanded unlawful land acquisition by the State Government of Odisha for Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) and decreed the government to give the acquired land back to the original land owners.

Short form, Odisha High Court has quashed state government against acquired land for Varsity project.

Pradip Kumar Das. CUTTACK. (short form PK Das, CTC)

The Odisha State High Court on Tuesday quashed the land acquisition taken up by the state government for the Vedanta University campus that has been proposed to be established on a designated 8,000 acres of land near the Konark Puri Marine drive on Puri seacoast, Bay of Bengal.

Terming the State Governments notifications to acquire and provide the land to the Anil Agarwal Foundation (AAF) for the construction of the proposed University as “illegal” and “bad in the eye of law”, a Division Bench of the judiciary that comprised of chief justice, Mr V. Gopala Gowda  and justice Mr B.P. Das directed the foundation to return the acquired land to its original owners. The ruling of the High Court came while adjudicating jointly at least two public interest litigation petitions (PILs) and seven individual writ petitions, including one by Mr  Umaballav Rath, a former legislator (politician) from Puri and Mr Chinmaya Kumar Mishra, a lawyer by profession.

FLOUTED LAWS

The petitioners challenged the setting up of the proposed university on several grounds including that of the acquisitions processes, which were alleged to be made in violation of the provisions of the land acquisitions act 1894, land Acquisition (Amendment) Act 1984 and Land Acquisition (Companies) Rules 1963. They also contested the University project submitting that it would have an extreme debilitating impact on the eco system, and varied diversity in the locality.

Similarly, they challenged the status of the Anil Agarwal Foundation that was changed to a public company from a private company called Vedanta Foundation in June, 2006 for the very purpose of acquiring land.

Urging the High Court to quash the land acquisition notifications, the petitioners also prayed (appealed) for quashing of the MoU signed by the State government for the proposed University with Vedanta Foundation on July 19, 2006, which subsequently became the Anil Agarwal Foundation on September 6, 2006. Taking up the batch of petitions for joint hearings, the court in its more than 100 page judgment framed at least 17 issues and discussing each of them individually determined that the proposed project was at fault on all counts. Sterlite Foundation, a private limited company that subsequently changed to Vedanta Foundation, in 2004, had signed the MoU with the state Government to set up the University on 15,000 acres of land near the Konark Puri marine drive.

The University has been envisioned to have undergraduate, postgraduate courses and research-intensive schools in engineering, medicine, management, basic science and humanities. This University has been purported to be of the standard of the likes of Harvard and Stanford University with an unprecedented philanthropy of one billion dollars from the personal fortune of Mr. Anil Agarwal. The world famous ASG architects and the likes have been hired for the construction and a large specialty hospital of international standard has been planned to be constructed as soon as the all permissions are granted. The state Government has indicated towards detailed analysis of the ruling by the court of law before taking further actions, which may involve moving to the apex court of India in New Delhi. Previous efforts of the AAF to enter the acquired lands, which were backed by a majority legislative bill in the democratic houses of the state government, were met by   protests by dissident sources of local population organized by social activists.

The state Government had confirmed the availability of 8,000 acres of contiguous land for the University and subsequently made notifications to acquire over 6,500 acres, including over 1,300 acres belonging to the Lord Jagannath temple.

 

 

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