Friday, June 17, 2011

Claim for Commons: Delhi (Removal of Encroachments in village Kera Kalan, Alipur Block, Delhi )

Central Information Commission
Room No. 5, Club Building, Near Post Office
Old J.N.U. Campus, New Delhi – 110067
Tel No: 26161997

Case No. CIC/SS/A/2010/000778

Name of Appellant :                                         Sh. Sudhir Singh Rana
(The Appellant was present along with
Sh. V. S. Rana and Sh. Azad Singh)

Name of Respondent :                                     Delhi Police, Outer Dist., Pushpanjali
(Represented by Sh. Rajesh Kumar,
ACP, Sh. Dilip Kumar, Insp. Sh. Madan
Lal, S.I., Sh. Dharmvir Singh and sh.
Rajender Singh, ACP)

The matter was heard on : 2.02.2011


Sh. Sudhir Singh Rana, the Appellant, vide application dated 7.06.2010, sought to know the action taken by the Police on references received from the BDO, Alipur Block, Delhi regarding unauthorized construction on Gram Sabha land near Samshan Ghat of Khera Garhi in village Kera Kalan. The BDO had, though the following letter requested the police to stop the construction work and to take action against the encroachers.

Letter No.

Unauthorized Construction upon Gram Sabha land near Samshan Ghat of Khera Garhi in village Khera Kalan.
Unauthorized Encroachment upon Gram Sabha land bearing Kh. No. 50/17, 50/18 in village Khera Garhi in Khera Kalan near Cremation Ground of Khera Garhi Colony.

Unauthorized Construction upon Gram Sabha land bearing Kh. No. 50/16, 17, 18 and 25 in Khera Garhi Colony near shamshan (Ghat 20point Colony) in village Khera Kalan.


Unauthorized construction upon Gram Sabha land bearing Kh. No. 50/16, 17, 18 and 25 in Khera Garhi Colony near Shamshan (Ghat 20 points Colony) in village Khera Kalan.

The PIO, replied to the Appellant that the complaints were pending enquiry with the local police, due to the fact that necessary reply / information has not been received from the BDO, Alipur, Delhi to the letter sent by SHO / Samaypur Badli.

Not satisfied with the reply of the PIO, the Appellant filed an appeal before the First Appellate Authority (FAA). Not getting information to his satisfaction even after filling the first appeal, the Appellant has filed the present appeal before the Commission.

During the hearing the Appellant submits that he has been requesting for information with regard to the unauthorized encroachment on Gram Sabha Land in his village Kheda Kalan and action taken by the police in reference to various letters regarding the illegal encroachment of Gram Sabha land sent to the police by the BDO, Alipur. The Respondent, on the other hand, though they admit that several references have been received by them from the BDO, Alipur, Delhi, state that the concerned SHO could not take any action because the BDO, Alipur, Delhi did not provide necessary information like encroachment removal programme, the name and address of the persons who have encroached the Grand Sabha land, measurement of the plot which has been encroached and the area, the time and date on which the Gram Sabha Land was encroached, separate complaint for each plot, ownership of land encroached, etc.

After hearing the parties and on perusal of the relevant documents on file and having regard to the facts and circumstances of the present case, the Commission is surprised at the attitude of the concerned SHO. The Commission finds that the BDO, the concerned officer dealing with the village panchayat land, had informed the police about the illegal encroachment of village land. Instead of seeking details like the name of the encroacher, date on which Gram Sabha Land, encroached property, measurement of plot encroached and separate complaint for encroachment of which plot etc., the SHO, should have effectively coordinated with the concerned BDO and taken action for removing the illegal encroachment from the Gram Sabha Land, as per the law. The Commission observes that the SHO unnecessarily tried to cause delay in the matter.

Though literally the Respondent have tried to show to the Commission that necessary information has been furnished to the Appellant, the Commission cannot lose sight of the basic purpose of the RTI Act, i.e. transparency and accountability in the administration.

Here, the observations of the Hon’ble Supreme Court regarding encroachment on Gram Sabha Land in Sh. Jagpal Singh & Ors. Vs State of Punjab & Ors., Civil Appeal NO. 1132 of 2011 are relevant: 

“Since time immemorial there have been common lands inhering in the village communities in India, variously called gram sabha land, gram panchayat land, (in many North Indian States), shamlat deh (in Punjab etc.), mandaveli and poramboke land (in South India), Kalam, Maidan, etc., depending on the nature of user. These public utility lands in the villages were for centuries used for the common benefit of the villagers of the village such as ponds for various purposes e.g. for their cattle to drink and bathe, for storing their harvested grain, as grazing ground for the cattle, threshing floor, maidan for playing by children, carnivals, circuses, ramlila, cart stands, water bodies, passages, cremation ground or graveyards, etc. These lands stood vested through local laws in the State, which handed over their management to Gram Sabhas/Gram Panchayats. They were generally treated as inalienable in order that their status as community land be preserved. There were no doubt some exceptions to this rule which permitted the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat to lease out some of this land to landless labourers and members of the scheduled castes/tribes, but this was only to be done in exceptional cases.

The protection of commons rights of the villagers were so zealously protected that some legislation expressly mentioned that even the vesting of the property with the State did not mean that the common rights of villagers were lost by such vesting. 

What we have witnessed since Independence, however, is that in large parts of the country this common village land has been grabbed by unscrupulous persons using muscle power, money power or political clout, and in many States now there is not an inch of such land left for the common use of the people of the village, though it may exist on paper. People with power and self operating in villages all over India systematically encroached upon communal lands and put them to uses totally inconsistent with its original character, for personal aggrandizement at the cost of the village community. This was done with active connivance of the State authorities and local powerful vested interests and goondas. This appeal is a glaring example of this lamentable state of affairs.

The appellants herein were trespassers who illegally encroached on to the Gram Panchayat land by using muscle power/money power and in collusion with the officials and even with the Gram Panchayat. We are of the opinion that such kind of blatant illegalities must not be condoned. Even if the appellants have built houses on the land in question they must be ordered to remove their constructions, and possession of the land in question must be handed back to the Gram Panchayat. Regularizing such illegalities must not be permitted because it is Gram Sabha land which must be kept for the common use of villagers of the village.

Long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure in making constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as a justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession. Regularization should only be permitted in exceptional cases e.g. where lease has been granted under some Government notification to landless labourers or members of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes, or where there is already a school, dispensary or other public utility on the land.” 

In view of the above the Commission deems it fit to bring the matter to the notice of Ms. Chhaya Sharma, Dy. Commissioner of Police / FAA. She may depute some senior officer to take appropriate action on the several complaints of illegal encroachment on the Gram Sabha Land and provide complete action taken report / enquiry report to the Appellant, within 30 days of receipt of this order.  With these directions the matter is disposed of on the part of the Commission.

(Sushma Singh)
Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy

(S. Padmanabha)
Under Secretary & Dy. Registrar

Copy to:
1. Sh. Suidhir Singh Rana
President Yuva Chetna Samaj Sudhar Sangthan
Khera Kalan

2. Ms. Chhaya Sharma
Dy. Commissioner of Police & FAA
Police Headquarters,
M.S.O. Building,
New Delhi110002

3. The Public Information Officer
Addl. Dy. Commissioner of PoliceI
Outer Dist., Pushpanjali
Road No. 43
Delhi - 34

4. The Appellate Authority
Dy. Commissioner of Police
Outer Dist., Pushpanjali
Road No. 43
Delhi - 34

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