The Supreme Court on Monday issued notices to Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Jharkhand and sought their replies to a writ petition challenging the amendments made by these states to the Land Acquisition Act of 2013.
The writ petition, filed by social activist Medha Patkar, alleges that these states have made major changes to exempt large real estate and infrastructure projects from consent provisions, objections by affected citizens, as well as the participation of local bodies to delay compensation.
Though land is a state subject, the acquisition and reacquisition of land for public infrastructure projects is present in the concurrent list, which thus means that the laws passed by the central government would override those passed by the state governments.
"The state governments have passed land acquisition Acts and rules for states by amending the provisions of the central act passed by Parliament and created conflict by violating the principle that the state Acts cannot override central Acts," the petition said.
Giving the collector of the area the sole power to conduct an enquiry in such cases of land acquisition will also give rise to widespread corruption, the petition said.
Under the central government's land acquisition rules, 70 per cent of landowners must consent to give away their land for a public-private-partnership (PPP) project, which has also been done away by the states, the petition alleges.
"The state amendments have removed the consent clause of PPP, paving way for many private projects that are running under the grab of PPP. In PPP projects, taxpayers' money is spent while acquiring land and creating infrastructure, whereas, in the profit-making stage, private players take away the maximum share," it said.
Seeking to get the amendments made by the states quashed, the petition has also asked the top court to direct the state governments that the central government's original rules for land acquisition shall remain in force for now.