WP(C) No. 47 of 2014. Case: Thentook Bhutia and Ors. Vs Teesta Valley Power Transmission Limited and Ors.. Sikkim High Court
|WP(C) No. 47 of 2014
|For Appellant: N. Rai, Senior Advocate, Tamanna Chhetri and Bindu Gurung, Advocates and For Respondents: Tarun Johri, Arun Kumar Sarkar, Abhijit Sarkar and Shivadeep Roka, Advocates
|Meenakshi Madan Rai, J.
|Electricity Act, 2003 - Sections 14, 164, 67(2), 68; Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 - Sections 10, 10(d), 16, 16(1), 16(3), 16(4); Land Acquisition Act, 1894 - Section 4
|March 26, 2016
|Sikkim High Court
Meenakshi Madan Rai, J.
The brief facts as they unfold are that the Respondent No. 1 is a Transmission Licensee under Section 14 of the Electricity Act, 2003 (hereinafter "the Act") conferred with powers under Section 164 of the Act for the purpose for placing posts and electric lines, for transmission of electricity and is building a Dedicated Transmission Line for laying down 400 KV D/C Teesta III Kishanganj transmission line, passing through the States of Sikkim, West Bengal and Bihar. The Petitioners being brothers live in Gangtok, East Sikkim, but jointly own land measuring a total of 5.20 hectares with a standing 'kutcha' house at Patuk Block, Khamdong, East Sikkim, through which the route of the transmission lines pass. Overhead power lines are to be strung across the land of the Petitioners where High Tension towers have been constructed on either boundary of their land thereby diminishing its value. Aggrieved by the act of the Respondent No. 1, the Petitioners have filed this Writ, the specific prayers of the Petitioners being three-fold, i.e., (i) that either the towers be removed from the existing sites to a portion of the Petitioners' land which will not destroy the utility of their entire land as is the position now; or (ii) in the alternative, the Respondent No. 1 acquire their land at Rs. 7,00,00,000/- (Rupees seven crores) only, as valued; and (iii) the Respondent No. 4 be directed to cancel or withdraw the Licence issued to Respondent No. 1 for undertaking the works as per Order dated 29-04-2010.
The Petitioners' case as advanced by Learned Senior Counsel is that in the process of the works of the Respondent No. 1 for transmission of electricity the construction of the High Tension Electric Towers resulted in damage to a portion of the Petitioners' land on one side for which admittedly compensation was paid by the Respondent No. 1. Now, stringing overhead power lines over the land of the Petitioners without their consent, will have long term detrimental health effects on the villagers and agriculture of the area and has led to devaluation of the Petitioners' land which had then been assessed at Rs. 7,00,00,000/- (Rupees seven crores) only. Apart from having to discard plans for constructing an Eco-tourism Resort the land is not being acquired by Pharmaceutical Companies, being unfit on account of the electric transmission wires. Admittedly, the towers so constructed are not on the land of the Petitioners nor have the wires been strung across yet but once done besides the aforesaid ill-effects the entire land of the Petitioners will be rendered useless.
That the Petitioner No. 2 approached the Respondent No. 3 with their grievance as the Respondent No. 1 had the option of adopting an alternative route, however, Respondent No. 3 failed to issue any effective order for removal of the towers from the existing site despite spot verification indicating problems for future construction in the area. The matter was also taken up before the High Court Lok Adalat but remained unsettled. It is expostulated that the Respondent No. 1 has not only violated the principles of natural justice as no public hearing was conducted before construction of the towers but also violated their right to property, apart from which they are liable under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, as no process was adopted for obtaining tribal land.
While resisting the case of the Petitioners, Learned Counsel for the Respondent No. 1 countered that none of the legal rights of the Petitioners or their rights as owners of the land have been effected as only overhead power lines are to be drawn over the land of the Petitioners while for issuance of a mandamus there must be an existing legal right and an infraction of such right, besides, as is a well-settled legal principle, this Court cannot assess compensation. The Respondent No. 1 has undertaken works as per the Order dated 29-04-2010 according approval under Section 164 of the Act, in addition to Government approval under Section 68 of the Act and are not subject to any consent or NOC from the Petitioners. The apprehension that the stringing of electric lines is going to adversely effect the health of the Petitioners is baseless and unfounded so is the submission with regard to value of the land. That carrying out works as per the Licence granted to the Respondent No. 1 does not require or include acquisition of any plot of land. It is stated that where damage was caused to land owners by installation of towers on their land compensation was awarded but drawing of overhead power lines over the land of the Petitioners will not cause any damage to their property and thus does not entitle them to any damages or compensation. That the question of realignment of the High Tension Transmission Lines does not arise as alignment for erecting such towers is done after observing techno-economical feasibility of the matter and appropriateness of the route by experts in the field, keeping vertical and horizontal clearance while stringing as required by the Act and does not render it unsafe. It is contended that neither the application of mind for choosing the route nor the...
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