New Delhi [India], July 10 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed an order of the Gujarat High Court for implementing the recovery of land allotted to Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Ltd in Mundra in Gujarat.

A bench headed by Justice BR Gavai and comprising Justice KV Viswanathan also issued a notice to the Gujarat government, asking it to file a reply to the petition.

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The court was hearing an appeal moved by Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited challenging a Gujarat High Court order.

The Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited sought an interim stay on the Gujarat High Court order. The land was allotted to the Adani Group entity in 2005.

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The petitioner Adani Ports said that it is valid and lawful possession of the land for nearly 20 years and no prejudice has been caused to the PIL petitioners in the last 13 years.

"No prejudice would be caused to Respondents if the Impugned Order is stayed pending adjudication of the present Special Leave Petition. For the last over 20 years from the date of allotment, cattle have been grazing and therefore, the status quo should not have been altered.

However, irreparable damage and prejudice will be caused to Petitioner if the operation of the Impugned Order is not stayed," the petitioner urged to the top court.

"The High Court was fully aware that the Order of July 4, 2024 was without any notice, without any hearing, without an opportunity to Petitioner to show cause and therefore, the High Court ought not to have directed the implementation of such an illegal order, especially when the Petitioner had no opportunity to bring on record its objections in the said PIL," the petitioner said.

Gujarat High Court on July 5 directed the Government of Gujarat to complete the process for resumption of certain lands, in terms of the resumption order.

The petitioner, who was aggrieved by the HC's decision said that the impugned order was passed in a Public Interest Litigation pending for over 13 years. The petitioner further questioned that High Court July 5's decision directed implementation of an administrative order and said the decision seeks to resume lands that had been allotted 20 years back.

The petitioner also questioned the resumption order and said it has passed in blatant breach of Natural Justice. Even the Adani Port questioned the PIL which was filed in 2011 belatedly challenging an order passed in 2005 for allotment of lands.

"During the pendency of the PIL, there was no interim order of any kind operating against the petitioner," Adani Ports informed the top court. The present Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Constitution of India, 1950, raises an important and fundamental question of law as to whether the High Court in exercise of public interest litigation (PIL) jurisdiction can direct implementation of a per se illegal order passed in breach of Natural Justice, and, which purports to recall/ cancel an allotment of land made for consideration over 20 years back," the petitioner said.

Adani Port also flagged the issue that the Gujarat HC decision came when the allottee has changed its position and made huge investments to set up an industrial establishment (Special Economic Zone).

"In the said PIL, after a further period of 13 years, the High Court has by impugned order directed implementation of an administrative order which was beyond the scope of the PIL," the petition pointed out.

The land deals began in June 27 when the Department of Revenue, Government of Gujarat, took a decision to sell 3154-90-62 hectares of land to the company.

On 15.07.2005 the Collector Kutch passed an order resuming grazing lands (gauchar lands) and allocated 93-48-99 hectares (village, Navinal) to the the company for industrial purpose (Special Economic Zone, "SEZ"). Petitioner paid the amount for the said land in 2005 and became owner of the land.

"On June 23, 2006, the Ministry of Commerce and Industries, Government of India, notified areas in Mundra, including the aforesaid land at aforesaid village, Navinal to be developed as an SEZ. The SEZ was to be developed by Petitioner terms of the Special Economic Zone Act, 2005 ("SEZ Act").

Pursuant to the sale, the petitioner has invested substantial monetary investments amounting to several crores. As at 2011, 2,284 people were directly employed at the SEZ and 15,921 persons were indirectly employed," the petition read.

In 2011 a writ petition was filed in the High Court of Gujarat at Ahmedabad, challenging, Notification dated 27.06.2005,' in terms of which Government of Gujarat took a decision to sell 3154-90- 62 hectares of land to the company.

The Gujarat High Court by its order dated July 5 2024 has directed Government of Gujarat to complete the process for resumption of lands, in terms of the Resumption Order. The Petitioner protested before the Gujarat High Court about the illegality and arbitrariness of the said Resumption Order.

Being aggrieved by the impugned direction of the Gujarat High Court to implement an ex parte and per se illegal order of July 4 2024, Adani Port moved the top court with this Special Leave Petition.

"Whether the High Court ought to have heard the Petitioner before passing an adverse order directing implementation of an illegal administrative order which directly and materially impacted Petitioner's rights in the land," the petition raised the issue.

"Whether the impugned direction to implement the Resumption Order is in violation of principles of Natural Justice, as the Gujarat High Court has directed implementation of the State Government's order dated July 4 2024 (i.e.. Resumption Order), and Petitioner was never granted an opportunity to respond to the Resumption Order," the petition said. (ANI)

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