Andhra Pradesh High Court allowed the State Government to continue e-auction process. It directed the government not to approve tenders or bids for the sale of land subject to its judgment.
Brief Facts of the Case
Five persons filed a PIL challenging government’s decision to e-auction government lands. The government had proposed to start e-auction from May 28. It got carried under ‘Mission Build AP.’ Social activist Suresh Babu, Dr. M Sailaja, Himabindu and K Malyadri filed PILs against the sale of land in Guntur. Further, K Tata Rao challenged the land sale in Visakhapatnam.
They appealed the Court to issue interim orders to stop the e-auction to start from May 28. The counsel for petitioners argued that the sale will benefit private players only. He said that according to the 2012 land allotment policy, the government can’t sell lands for revenue. He added that the government is trying to sell land donated by the people and it didn’t have the right to sell them.
The government argued that the process of selling unused government land is a policy decision and it isn’t new. It told the Court that the policy decision has taken up after following all procedures. The government relied on various Supreme Court judgments.
Additional AG informed the Court that the government will use funds for schemes like Navaratnalu and Nadu-Nedu. He told that e-auction has deferred to June 11-13.
The Division Bench comprising of Justice AV Seshasai and Justice B Krishnamohan heard the PIL. After hearing the parties, the Court remarked:
“It seems the people of the state are rich, but the government is poor.”
It asked the government if it has gone bankrupt and does not have enough funds to meet development work. Also, it questioned the government whether it has no other option but to sell government land to carry out the development work. The Court observed how it is possible that a state having thousands of kms of the coastal area doesn’t have proper funds to carry out development work.
As a result, the Court rejected the petitioner’s request to pass interim orders preventing the government from proceeding e-auction of the government land.
The High Court on Thursday, May 28, issued interim orders and allowed the state government to proceed with e-auction of government lands under ‘Mission Build AP’. Additionally, the Court ordered the government not to allot land to bidders until its next orders on this matter.
Next hearing of the petition is in the list for June 18.
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