The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Tuesday penalised state-run Himachal Pradesh Power Corporation Ltd (HPPCL), which is constructing a hydro-power dam project for providing water to six states including Delhi, for unnecessary litigation and directed the company to recover the litigation costs from erring officials.
Allowing the petition of Sat Dev Singh, whose land was acquired by HPPCL for the construction of the Renuka dam project, the court imposed a penalty of Rs 100,000 on the company.
On completion, water from the Renuka dam in Sirmaur district will augment water availability for Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Rajasthan.
The dam is conceptualised as a three-way project to be constructed along the Yamuna and two of its tributaries, the Tons and Giri. Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh are the two states involved.
The case concerns the land of the petitioner acquired by the HPPCL on September 24, 2009, via negotiations.
Immediately after the execution of the sale deed, HPPCL issued a certificate of assurance in favour of the petitioner agreeing that a new price would be paid to him in case the negotiated rates for the land being acquired for the dam and reservoir area are enhanced.
It was further stated in the assurance certificate that this undertaking was being given to ensure that those persons who come forward for sale of land voluntarily are not disadvantaged.
Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan, who reserved his judgment on July 24, observed that it was shocking that the public sector HPPCL had tried to illegally appropriate more than Rs 47 lakh due and payable to the petitioner.
The court is duty-bound to ensure that dishonesty and attempts to surpass the legal process are effectively curbed, he said.
Directing the respondents to pay the enhanced amount of compensation and other benefits, the court imposed costs of Rs 1,00,000, out of which Rs 50,000 shall be paid to the petitioner and the remaining to the President of the Red Cross Society before August 31.
The cost at the first instance will be paid by the HPPCL and, thereafter, would be recovered from the erring officials irrespective of whether they are still serving or not.
“The inquiry against the erring officials shall be personally conducted by the Chief Secretary-cum-Chairman, HPPCL,” said Justice Chauhan, who sought a compliance report by October 31.