The Supreme Court has appointed a former Karnataka High Court judge to examine the matter concerning the formation of the K Shivaram Karanth layout.

In 2008 the government had decided to acquire 3,546 acres of land for the formation of the layout, comprising lands from 17 villages.

The Supreme Court has relied on one of its own previous judgments on the functioning of the Bangalore Development Authority to pass this order.

The Karnataka government and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) are responsible for the mess in Bengaluru city, the Supreme Court said on Friday as it directed them not to drop the acquisition of about 650 acres of land for a planned residential layout.

The top court took strong exception to the alleged “connivance of influential political persons or otherwise” in the move to exclude large tracts of land from acquisition for the formation of the layout, named after the late K Shivaram Karanth, the writer and socio-cultural personality, proposed back in 2008.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and S Abdul Nazeer appointed former Karnataka High Court judge Justice K N Keshavanarayana, to conduct an inquiry for “fixing responsibility” on the BDA and government officials.

“The matter cannot be left at the mercy of unscrupulous authority of the BDA, the state government or in the political hands (sic),” the court said.

The top court directed the government and the BDA to proceed with the acquisition and submit a report within three months, saying it cannot be “frustrated by powerful unforeseen hands”. The acquisition was for proper and planned development, which was an absolute necessity for the city, it said.

On December 30, 2008, the scheme was floated where 45% of the land was to be used for civic amenities like playgrounds and roads and the remaining 55% was to be utilised for residential sites. The farmers were given the option either to accept residential land or take compensation as determined under the Land Acquisition Act. The government had decided to acquire 3,546 acres of land for the formation of the Dr K Shivarama Karanth layout, comprising lands from 17 villages. In 2013, the newly elected Chief Minister Siddaramiah hinted at returning the acquired land to farmers and other land losers. Subsequent representations nearly resulted in the exclusion of huge lands from the acquisition.

“The Special Land Acquisition Collector also considered the exclusion of 498 acres of the land against which the question was raised in the Assembly and eyebrows were raised in public domain,” the bench said.

The apex court found it “shocking” that a single-judge bench as well as a division bench (two judges) of the Karnataka High Court, ignored the law laid down by a five-judge constitution bench of the apex court in the case of ‘Offshore Holdings’ (2011), which held that time constraints would not be applicable to the BDA. It set aside the high court’s orders that had quashed the notification in view of the delay as the right to enjoy the property of the landowners has been curtailed.

In view of the huge hue and cry for arbitrary and discriminatory withdrawal and raising of questions in the Karnataka State Assembly, three inquiries, two by the state government and one by the BDA were ordered.

“However, the result of the inquiry is not forthcoming,” the bench said and asked Justice Keshavanarayana to submit his report as expeditiously as possible.

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