On November 16, 2010, the Orissa high court had quashed land acquisition proceedings for the controversial varsity project on grounds that those were ‘illegal’ and ordered for return of acquired land to its owners. The state government had acquired 3,495.21 acre of private land and leased another 509.27 acre of government land for the proposed varsity, as against a requirement pegged at 6137.90 acre.
“In May 2008, the Capital police station had registered a case on the direction of a local court after I filed a petition that the Anil Agarwal Foundation had submitted forged and fictitious documents to the state government regarding its ‘public limited company status’ to enable the state government acquire land for the university project,” Mishra said.
“The governor’s office had asked the state government for a status report/ action taken report concerning the case on July 3 and November 28. But it has not acted on it,” he added.
Under the law, the government could acquire private land only for a ‘public limited company’, but when land acquisition was notified for Vedanta’s varsity project the Foundation was a private limited company, Mishra said.
In March 2010, the then Lokpal Justice P K Patra had recommended the state government to appoint a competent authority to inquire into various acts of omission and commission perpetrated with regard to acquisition of land for the proposed university. It had come down heavily on the state government’s handling of the issue, especially the “illegal” acquisition of land belonging to Puri‘s Jagannath Temple for the promoter, Anil Agarwal Foundation, whose conversion from being a “private company” to a “public company” was shrouded in controversy. It had also recommended action against people, including senior bureaucrats, who had advanced Vedanta’s cause by throw laws to the wind.