Monday, December 9, 2013

HC stays transfer of ‘shamlat land’ to charitable group

Marouf Ahmad Parray
8 December 2013

Jammu and Kashmir High Court has stayed a government order about the transfer of over 30 kanals of ‘shamlat’ land to a charitable trust for the construction of educational institute in central Kashmir’s Budgam district.

Hearing a petition filed by the residents of Gogo, a village in the Budgam district, a bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey also issued notice to government returnable within four weeks. 

“The government order (dated December 13, 2012) shall remain stayed till next date of hearing before the bench,” the court said.
The court issued the directions after counsel for villagers through Abdul Ahad Beigh and others submitted that as per the provisions of law and also directions by Supreme Court, the state cannot utilize the land other than the one for which the land has been earmarked.

Referring to Supreme Court judgment in Jagpal Singh Vs state of Punjab, the counsel submitted the apex court has directed all the Chief Secretaries of all the states to protect ‘shamlat’ land.

Residents of Gogo have challenged the government whereby sanction has been accorded to transfer of 30 kanals and 5 marlas of ‘shamlat’ land in favour of charitable trust.

The government had transferred the land for construction of higher secondary institute and college/welfare education institute with a rider that if it was used for purposes other than educational and welfare purpose it shall be taken over by it.

“In case of violation, the land as well as structures constructed, if any, shall be taken over by government without paying any compensation,” reads the order as per counsel for the petitioners.

In 2011, the Supreme Court had directed all the state governments through Chief Secretaries to prepare a schemes for eviction of illegal or unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha, Gram Panchayat, Poramboke and shamlat land and these must be restored for the common use of villagers of the village.

For this purpose, the court had directed the Chief Secretaries to do the needful, taking the help of other senior officers of the governments.

“The scheme should provide for the speedy eviction of such illegal occupant, after giving him a show cause notice and a brief hearing,” the court had said. “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, the apex court had said, 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.”

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