Suni Augustine

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Bridging Legal Gaps in Land Acquisition

Dr. Suni Augustine

Associate Vice President Head Legal- Land Acquisition,

Adani Electricity

Land acquisition has always been a critical challenge for companies. It’s a complex process that requires the expertise of legal officers to navigate successfully. Dr. Suni Augustine, the current Associate Vice President and Head of Legal Land Acquisition at Adani Electricity, is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience in this domain. Over the course of his career, Dr. Suni has handled a wide range of legal matters, including litigation, contract negotiations, property issues, and intellectual property rights. His expertise spans intellectual property rights (IPR), contracts, corporate law, litigation, compliance, and land acquisition.
Throughout his professional journey, Dr. Suni has made significant contributions to various organisations. He has held key positions at Goldshield Group PLC, Wind World India Ltd., Jet Airways, Genom Biotech, Reliance Group, Leela Hotels Group, and his current role at Adani Electricity wherein he is handling land acquisition for various upcoming projects and expansions for the entire group. His experience extends to handling land acquisition for a diverse portfolio of projects for the group. Dr. Suni’s project portfolio reflects his versatility and experience, encompassing hotels, commercial buildings, and wind farms across Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. His track record demonstrates his ability to tackle diverse challenges in the legal arena not limited to litigations, contracts, M & A, IPR and also in the fields of land acquisition and real estate law which is his present legal domain.
In this exclusive interview, we will explore Dr. Suni’s extensive experience in land acquisition and real estate law, shedding light on how his expertise has shaped corporate development and continues to inspire legal professionals and business leaders. We’ll delve into the story of a legal expert whose dedication to his profession has left an enduring impact on the corporate landscape. 

How does your extensive experience across diverse sectors like telecom, aviation, entertainment, and hospitality benefit your current role as a legal expert?

While my current responsibilities primarily revolve around land acquisition and its associated tasks, my prior experiences with the Reliance Group have proven invaluable. During my tenure with the group, I was deeply involved in land procurement for Mobile Towers and gained extensive experience in handling land-related litigation, due diligence, and documentation. This background has been instrumental in enhancing my effectiveness in my current role. Additionally, my past engagements in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and joint ventures (JV) within the renewable, aviation and hospitality sectors have further bolstered my skill set. These experiences have been particularly beneficial in negotiations, drafting Share Purchase Agreements (SPAs), and other pertinent documents related to company acquisitions for the entire group.

What were the key legal challenges you faced in land acquisition, and how did you resolve them?

Currently, our land acquisition initiatives encompass vast tracts of land, often exceeding thousands of hectares, intended for windmill, solar, or hybrid farm projects. These endeavours come with a multitude of intricacies, including challenges related to undivided shares, ownership by minors, joint family ownership, ancestral property, and the involvement of landowners residing outside of India. Given that a significant portion of these revenue land documents are in vernacular languages, we typically enlist the assistance of local legal experts to provide title search reports. These reports are meticulously evaluated by our central team. Subsequently, the findings are presented to the management for their ultimate decision on whether to proceed with the acquisition or discontinue it.

How do you handle negotiations with property owners, government agencies, and stakeholders in land acquisition to achieve favourable outcomes while nurturing positive relationships?

Our approach varies based on the specific individuals, government entities, and stakeholders involved in each land acquisition endeavour. In some instances, we engage directly with these parties, while in other cases, we utilise the services of land aggregators who act as intermediaries and interface with them on our behalf. This adaptability allows us to employ the most effective strategy for each unique situation.

What sets you apart from your peers, and how do you utilise your strengths and weaknesses to benefit both yourself and the organisation?

I approach issues with a comprehensive and holistic perspective, aiming to gather a wealth of information before evaluating the matter and formulating long-term solutions that benefit the company. While this method is typically advantageous, it can also be perceived as a weakness in situations where short-term goals with minimal investments are preferred by the management.

What are your future plans as you seek greater responsibilities on national and international stages, and where do you see yourself in five years?

As an all-around legal professional, I anticipate that with upcoming projects on both national and international fronts, there will be opportunities to delve into more assertive and strategic legal aspects for the entire group, in addition to my present involvement in land acquisition.
















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