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The Supreme Court has held that the Government cannot forcibly acquire private lands by invoking the "urgency clause" without inviting objections from the aggrieved persons or citing sufficient justification. A bench of Justices C K Thakker and D K Jain said this while quashing the acquisition proceedings launched by the Haryana Government to acquire private lands "for public purpose" in the State's Kheri Nangal village in Panipat district. The bench held that the acquisition proceedings sought to be launched under the "urgency clause" were not justified as the authorities had failed to cite any urgent cause for it. A company, Essco Fabs Pvt Ltd, the Panipat Teachers Housing Cooperative Society and another organisation had challenged the acquisition proceedings alleging they would be displaced as a result of the process. In this case, the Government chose to take over the land in 2001 by invoking the urgency clause under Section 17(4)of the Land Acquisition Act to acquire land for which the actual proceedings were in fact initiated in 1982. Under Section 5A of the Act it is mandatory for the Government to invite objections from the aggrieved land owners, but Section 17(4) gives discretionary powers to the authorities to acquire the land without even inviting objections.
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