Supreme Court gives jolt to Vedanta’s University Plan in Puri

Apex Court declared land acquisition proceedings initiated by the Odisha government for the proposed Vedanta University as illegal

Bhubaneshwar, TNI Bureau: In a significant development, the Supreme Court of India has upheld the 2010 verdict of the Orissa High Court, which declared the land acquisition proceedings initiated by the Odisha government for the proposed Vedanta University as illegal. The Odisha government had planned to procure approximately 6000 acres of land for the project.

A panel comprising Justices MR Shah and Krishna Murari dismissed a petition filed by the Anil Agarwal Foundation, which sought to challenge a High Court ruling annulling the land acquisition proceedings for violating the Land Acquisition Act 1894. The petition was rejected by the panel, indicating that the High Court’s decision stands.

The land acquisition proceedings for the proposed Vedanta University in Puri, Odisha, have been found to be in violation of Sections 39, 40, and 41 of the Land Acquisition Act 1894, as well as Rules 3(2) and (4) of the Land Acquisition Regulations, 1963. The Odisha government had granted permission to acquire 12,000 acres of land for the university, but ownership of only 3,837 acres was transferred. In 2006, Vedanta had requested the acquisition of 15,000 acres of land from the government. However, the land acquisition process was deemed unlawful by the Orissa High Court in 2010

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Although the Supreme Court agreed with the High Court’s conclusion, it noted the disagreement in this case involved nearly 6000 acres of agricultural land belonging to about 6000 families. In addition, the Supreme Court criticized the project, claiming that it was only intended for the benefit of the company, a violation of Section 44B of the Land Acquisition Act.

As a result, the court dismissed the appeals and ordered the Anil Agarwal Foundation to pay the Orissa State Legal Services Authority a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs within six weeks.

Meanwhile according to Bloomberg, Indian commodities giant Vedanta Ltd. is in negotiations to fund at least $1 billion with US-based Farallon Capital Management

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