Plea in SC cites errors in Chennai-Salem project verdict, seeks review

New Delhi, Jan 8 (IANS) A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking review of its December 8 verdict, upholding the notification for land acquisition for Rs 10,000-crore Chennai-Salem eight-lane expressway in Tamil Nadu.

The top court had said the Central government is fully competent to notify “any land” for acquisition to construct a national highway and prior environmental clearance is not necessary at the stage of notification of land acquisition proceedings.

The plea filed by Salem resident Yuvaraj S. contended that the top court verdict was with errors apparent on the face of the record and it would result in “gross miscarriage of justice.”

“This review application is primarily premised on that the learned judges of the full bench of this court did not have the occasion to consider the law laid down by this Court for Judicial Review of purported ‘Public Policy’ when there is violation of a larger policy (Bharatmala-I).”

The December 8 verdict of the top court had come on a batch of appeals filed by the Centre and the NHAI and few land owners and others, including PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss. The top court had dismissed the appeal of land owners against the acquisition of their land for the project.

The review plea contended that “law laid down by this court for Judicial Review of purported ‘Public Policy’ done without ‘declared change in policy” that which was not supported by reason, was not done fairly and done acting with any ulterior motive or arbitrarily.

A bench comprising of Justices A. M. Khanwilkar, B.R. Gavai and Krishan Murari had allowed the Centre go ahead with the Chennai-Krishnagiri-Salem eight-lane expressway under the “Bharatmala Pariyojana.”

“The Central government is free to construct/build a new national highway …for securing a social order and promotion of welfare of the people in the concerned region, to provide them adequate means of livelihood, distribute material resources as best to subserve the common good, create new opportunities,” it had said.

The 277.30 km highway had faced tough opposition from farmers and activists alleging loss of agricultural land and damage to forest, flora and fauna. The government’s appeals were filed challenging the April 8 Madras High Court verdict, where it said the notifications issued under Section 3A(1) of the National Highways Act for acquisition of specified lands for construction of the new highway were “illegal and bad in law”.

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