The Kerala High Court has criticised the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) saying it has become a common practice of the authority to burden the courts with a spate of litigations and that its delay in granting compensation results in payment of heavy interests.
In its order, the division bench of the High Court comprising Justices Amit Rawal and C S Sudha, observed that if the NHAI takes appropriate advice, it would save the cost of litigation and avoid the burden of paying heavy interests.
The court’s order came on an appeal filed by a land owner from Thiruvananthapuram, whose property was acquired by the NHAI for the purpose of constructing a bypass to avoid the Kazhakuttom-Karode stretch of the NH 47.
Aggrieved by the compensation fixed by the competent authority, the land owner sought for arbitration during which the value of the land was increased to the extent of 50 per cent.
Claiming that the amount was exorbitant, NHAI approached a local court in Thiruvananthapuram, which set aside the arbitration order, following which the land owner appealed in the high court.
“…it has become a common practice that National Highways Authority of India, unnecessarily is burdening the courts with spate of litigations, putting the State Exchequer at peril causing delay in disbursement of interest and compensation thereon,” the court said in the order issued in April.
The court said even when delayed payments are released, the element of interest increases exponentially, which also causes a big hole in the pockets of bona fide tax payers.
“If the National Highway takes appropriate advice, it would save the cost of litigation and would avoid the burden of payment of heavy interests. It could have a great impact in saving the economy of the country,” the high court said.
The Kerala High Court said the order of the lower court was not tenable and sustainable, and set it aside while restoring the award of the Arbitrator.
The court also clarified that the land owners would also be entitled to the statutory benefit.