Refund ITC’s ₹4.5 crore with 12% interest: HC to APIIC, TSIICFebruary 6, 2021
The Telangana High Court had directed the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) and the Telangana State Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (TSIIC) to refund to ITC company the ₹4.5 crore it had paid 14 years ago to the undivided APIIC.
Delivering a verdict in a writ petition filed by ITC Limited seeking refund of the money, a bench of Justices M.S. Ramachandra Rao and T. Amarnath Goud said the APIIC and the TSIIC should return the amount in the ratio of 58.32 : 41.68 within four weeks with 12% annual interest. Both the corporations were directed to pay ₹10,000 each as costs to the company.
ITC Limited deposited ₹4.5 crore with APIIC in 2007 for allotment of land to expand its project in Sarapaka village near Bhadrachalam of Telangana region in undivided AP. APIIC, which was the nodal agency for industrial development, allotted nearly 1,500 acres in Sarapaka village to the company. As per the plan, the land would be given to the Forest department, which in turn would allot the same to the company after securing permission from Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Since the land in that village was degraded forest land, APIIC identified 1,500 acres of government land in Anantapur district for compensatory afforestation by the company.
However, the transfer of land to the company was rejected by the Central government in a meeting held in 2012. Despite the rejection, the APIIC did not refund the amount to the company. Meanwhile, two years later, a separate State of Telangana was carved out of the then united Andhra Pradesh and the TSIIC and APIIC were constituted.
After writing letters to the two corporations for refund, the company finally knocked the doors of the Telangana High Court nearly three years ago.
After hearing contentions of the company and the two corporations, the bench of the HC pronounced this judgment.
Retention of the amount paid by the company was against the fundamental principles of justice, equity and good conscience. It clearly amounts to unjust enrichment of the two corporations, the verdict said.