Vikash Sharma

In a major blow to the proposed Vedanta University in Puri, the Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the Orissa High Court order which had set aside the land acquisition process for the project. The apex court has termed the acquisition of 10,000 acres of land for the proposed project as ‘illegal’.

The Supreme Court has reprimanded the Odisha government and imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on Vedanta. The Orissa High Court in 2010 quashed the process of land acquisition for the university and directed the authorities to return the acquired land to their owners.

Later, the Odisha government and the Anil Agarwal Foundation had moved the Supreme Court to save the proposed Rs 15,000-crore Vedanta University project at Puri. The Odisha government had signed an agreement with Vedanta Foundation for the university in 2006.

Advocate Aditya Das said, “It was a long battle of 15 years and by Lord Jagannath’s grace the Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Orissa High Court.”

According to Das, it is a landmark judgment that upholds the rule of law. The Orissa High Court had given the first of its kind judgment in the country on Land Acquisition law vis-a-vis Section 25 Companies Act and whether any private company limited by guarantee (registered under Section 25 of the Companies Act, 1956) can acquire land to set up a university or not.

Petitioner Umaballabh Rath said “Nearly 5,000 families and farmers have won and their land has been saved. The Supreme Court’s judgment is certainly welcoming and the governments will now be forced to think before arbitrary land acquisition.”

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