Supreme Court Backs High Court’s Intervention in Surat APMC Land Misuse, Calls It a ‘Scandal’

In a dramatic turn of events in the Supreme Court, Chief Justice D.Y Chandrachud, along with Justice J.B Pardiwala, vehemently rejected an appeal by the Surat Agricultural Produce Market Committee (APMC) to overturn a Gujarat High Court order. The order in question directed the state government to reclaim possession of a five-star hotel built illegally on land originally allocated for a market yard. During the hearing, Justice Chandrachud exclaimed, “Thank God! The High Court intervened. This is a scandal!”

The bench was hearing an appeal against the Gujarat High Court’s March 27 order, which refused to allow APMC’s land, meant for agricultural purposes, to be used for commercial developments such as a shopping mall and a five-star hotel. Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing APMC, argued that the High Court’s decision unfairly deprived them of their own land and assets.

Justice Chandrachud questioned the APMC’s rationale, emphasizing the necessity to return the land to the state if it was not being used according to the stipulated purpose under the APMC Act. He commented on the gravity of the misuse, highlighting that the officers could be “willing participants” in the scandal, which involved public funds.

The Gujarat High Court had previously ordered the public auction of the property, directing officials to deposit the proceeds into the state’s APMC fund. Furthermore, the court granted Hotel Shilpis India Private Limited permission to appeal to the High Court for the recovery of their investment in the hotel project.

The High Court had ruled that the construction of a five-star hotel using 98 crore rupees from the ‘Market Committee Fund’ did not align with the objectives of the APMC Act of 1963. The bench supported the High Court’s stance that leasing the property to a private party under the guise of generating rental income for the fund was merely a facade to legitimize illegal activities.

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