PIL plea challenges allotment of five acres in Shankarpally by the State government at the rate of ₹ 5 lakh per acre

Telangana High Court on Monday sought to know from State government how can it allot a land having a market value of ₹ 2.5 crore per acre to a person at the rate of ₹ 5 lakh per acre.

A bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy, hearing a PIL plea challenging the allotment of five acres of land to film producer and director Shankar, wanted to know what was basis for the government to fix the price of land at the rate of ₹ 5 lakh per acre. The land located in Mokilla village of Shankarpally mandal on Hyderabad outskirts coming under Rangareddy district was allotted to the director. A citizen challenged the government’s decision stating that the land was allotted at far less price than the market value. According to the petitioner, the land would fetch at least ₹2.5 crore per acre in the market.

After perusing the counter affidavit filed by the government, the bench said the market value of the land at the time of allotment was ₹ 20 lakh per acre but the prevailing market value was ₹ 2.5 per acre. The bench said it did not understand why the land rate was fixed ₹ 5 lakh per acre. “Even if it was the decision of the Cabinet, it cannot abuse the power by passing orders for allotment of lands at such less rate. The decision of the Cabinet should be on economic basis,” the bench remarked. Government pleader A. Santosh Kumar attached to Advocate General’s office told the court that the Cabinet took a decision on allotment of the land on June 18, 2019 after taking into consideration different factors.

He sought two weeks of time stating that AG B.S. Prasad would present the government’s contention in the matter. The petitioner’s counsel A. Satyam Reddy said the allotment of land at such price was not justified on any ground. Referring to the counter affidavit of the government that 300 persons were likely to get employment following construction of a world class studio on the land, the bench said even then the allotment of the land at ₹5 lakh per acre was not justified.

“This land seems to have been sold for peanuts. The government cannot justify stating that it was Cabinet’s decision,” the bench said. It noted that the Supreme Court had earlier said that a procedure had to be followed whenever a parcel of government land was allotted to any person.

The petition was posted to August 27 for next hearing.

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