A Mockery of Justice Delivery

Published on: December 29, 2015

Justice Panachand Jain
Justice V. D. Gyani
Justice N.K. Modi
Justice Nagamohan Das

Four retired justices of the Supreme Court have expressed grave concerns at the violation of the law by the states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra with the oustees (internally displaced persons) of the Sardar Sarovar project remaining without fair rehabilitation; the Justices have also decried the false information, on rehabilitation, provided by the (three) state and union government(s) to the Supreme Court where matters related to accountability remain pending since 2008
“No Submergence without Rehabilitation” is the law as laid down by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award and upheld by the Supreme Court of India. Despite this, the hasty manner in which the dam height is sought to be raised by 17 metres today threatens the lives of densely populated villages and a township besides threatening to submerge ancient historical sites of the indigenous peoples, the Adivasis.  This decision to raise the height by 17 metres was suddenly taken by the union government on June 12, 2014. At immediate risk is the fair and legally required rehabilitation of a massive 2.5 lakh population (45-48,000 families) of the Sardar Sarovar project, 45,000 of which are in Madhya Pradesh alone.
Four retired judges of the higher judiciary, Justice Panachand Jain of the Rajasthan High Court, Justice V. D. Gyani of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice N.K. Modi of the Madhya Pradesh High Court and Justice Nagamohan Das of the Karnataka High Court conducted the IPT at Rajghat, Badwani in Madhya Pradesh on September 11 and 12, 2015. The complete report is available at
Earlier, a Fact-Finding Committee had surveyed the area and recorded detailed findings. The Tribunal verified these Findings in detail. The concerns expressed by the Central Fact Finding  Committee are:
  • Thousands of families, especially the Tribals (Adivasis), fisher folk, landless poor who are under the threat of imminent inundation and thus – forcible displacement, are not being given any alternative place to live, as also, alternative land and livelihood sources, in many cases.
  • The essential components of land-based rehabilitation for even those recognised as project affected, is not being implemented, with many instances of oustees being compelled to opt between barren/conflict ridden lands or paltry monetary compensation, not resulting in actual purchase of land. Cultivable, irrigable lands are not located nor purchased by the Government of Madhya Pradesh (MP) and Maharashtra, while Gujarat seems to be refusing identification of land for those who seeking change of these ‘bad’ lands.
  • Several thousands of people whose houses and lands are in actuality, under threat of being submerged – either permanently or periodically during high flood levels, are not even currently being recognised as project affected families/persons.
  • The reported large scale frauds in compensation and rehabilitation, reached such massive proportions that the MP High Court has constituted a Judicial Commission under Justice S.S. Jha (retired), who has been investigating these widespread fraudulent practices, and is slated to submit its report soon. (This report is expected to be out by December 31,2015)
  • The rehabilitation sites chosen/identified by the governments are in extremely poor conditions, having no adequate facilities for people to live there as per the NWDT norms, with poor water supply, broken roads, no electricity, and non-existent or pathetic education and health facilities.
  • The widespread allegations of gross violation of the laws including the Narmada Tribunal Award, orders of the Supreme Court policy provisions on rehabilitation, orders of the Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRA), guarantees by the Land Acquisition Act, 2003, PESA Act, 1996 in the scheduled areas etc.
The members of the Indian People’s Tribunal visited number of villages on September 11, 2015, villages which are affected by the submergence. The Tribunal heard the testimonies of project affected persons/families and oustees on September 12, 2015 in the presence of about 10,000 oustees of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The deponents before Tribunal included representatives of the Adivasis from the hilly and plain areas, other farmers who have been entangled in the fake registries scam and who have received meagre cash and denied land, or given land from the land bank, landless oustees, including fish workers, potters, boatmen, small traders etc.