Monday, December 30, 2013

Sultan Singh v. Gram Panchayat village Hari Pur, RSA No.4392 of 2000, Date of Decision : 21.12.2013

Case Summary:

This case is in the form of a second appeal filed in the High Court. The brief facts of the case are that Sultan Singh, resident of a village within the Gram Panchayat Haripur filed a suit for permanent injunction to restrain Gram Panchayat Haripur, Tehsil and District Panchkula from interfering in his possession over a plot alleging the same to be his for the last 100 or more years. The Gram Panchayat denied the claim stating that the property vests in the Gram Panchayat, being 'Samlat vacant abadi land' reserved for common use of the villagers. 

The Hon'ble court upheld the decision of the lower Court, and held that possession has been taken from Sultan Singh in due course of law as per decree of the lower Court and the relief of injunction is no more available to him or can be allowed. The report of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer and the proceedings of delivery of possession, placed on file, depict that Gram Panchayat has been put in possession of the suit land under the orders of Collector. Though, the Sultan Singh claims that he is still in possession of the suit property, the remedy available to him is to approach the competent authorities who have ordered his dispossession. 

Reference was made to the Jagpal Singh judgement and the plea for injuction was dismissed.


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IN THE PUNJAB AND HARYANA HIGH COURT AT

CHANDIGARH

RSA No.4392 of 2000

Date of Decision : 21.12.2013

Sultan Singh                                      .......... Appellant

Versus

Gram Panchayat village Hari Pur, Tehsil and District Panchkula            ...... Respondent

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CORAM : HON'BLE MR. JUSTICE SURINDER GUPTA

Present : 
Mr. Sherry K. Singla, Advocate                                  - for the appellant.

Mr. Ramesh Sharma, Advocate                                   - for the respondents.

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SURINDER GUPTA , J.


The following substantial question of law arises for determination in this appeal :-

“Whether in the facts and circumstances of the case, the first appellate Court was justified in dismissing the suit for injunction even after holding that the plaintiff was in possession of the property?"

2. Recapitulating briefly, the facts of the case are that Sultan Singh-plaintiff/appellant filed a suit for permanent injunction to restrain Gram Panchayat Haripur, Tehsil and District Panchkula and other defendants from interfering in his possession over a plot shown as ABCD in the site plan (Ex. P-1) alleging the same to be his bara (Courtyard). The plaintiff claimed his possession over this bara for the last more than 100 years, pleading that earlier it was in possession of his forefathers and the defendants were threatening to interfere in his possession in a forcible manner. Defendants No.1 & 2 denied the claim of plaintiff in the written statement inter alia pleading that the suit property vests in Gram Panchayat being 'Shamlat vacant Abadi land'. The plaintiff, his brothers and their wives wanted to forcibly encroach upon the suit land and the matter was brought to the notice of Sub Divisional Magistrate, Naraingarh, DDPO and SHO, Raipur Rani through repeated representations and resolutions of Gram Panchayat. Being vacant 'Shamlat Abadi land' reserved for common use of the villagers, the previous Panchayat reserved it for construction of Dharamsala and foundation of a hall measuring 39'x12' was laid down and the remaining vacant plot was bounded by a boundary wall . The bricks for construction of Dharamsala were lying in the Courtyard. The possession of the plaintiff over any part of the suit land was denied.

3. Pleadings of the parties led to the framing of following issues :-

“1. Whether the plaintiff is owner in possession over the suit property?OPP

2. Whether this Court has no jurisdiction to entertain the present suit?OPD

3. Whether plaintiff has no cause of action to file the present suit ?OPD

4. Relief.”

4. The trial Court found the plaintiff in possession of the suit property and recorded findings on issues No. 1 and 3 in favour of the plaintiff and against the defendants. Suit of the plaintiff was accordingly decreed and defendants were 'restrained from dispossessing the plaintiff from the suit land except in due course of law'.

5. The first Appellate Court affirmed the finding of the trial Court regarding possession of plaintiff over the suit land but declined to allow him the relief of injunction on the ground that he was in unauthorised possession of the land which belonged to Gram Panchayat.

6. Not satisfied, the plaintiff -appellant has come up with the present appeal.

7. Counsel for the parties have been heard and record perused.

8. At the very outset learned counsel for the respondent-Gram Panchayat village Haripur has submitted that there was no injunction order in favour of the appellant during the pendency of the appeal and under the orders of the competent authority i.e. Collector, Panchkula dated 11.03.2013, possession of the disputed site has been delivered to the Gram Panchayat vide report dated 21.03.2013 by Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Raipur Rani.

9. Learned counsel for the appellant has refuted the report of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Raipur Rani and has alleged that though the proceedings to take possession were conducted at the spot by B.D.P.O., Raipur Rani but still the appellant is in possession of the suit property.

10. He has further argued that the suit land remained in possession of the plaintiff from the time of his forefathers. It is situated within the Lal Lakir and there was no document to prove the title of the plaintiff over the suit land.

11. Learned counsel for the respondent has argued that the statement of plaintiff and his witness are sufficient to prove on file that the suit land was the land of Gram Panchayat. It was reserved for Dharamsala. The plaintiff took the benefit of its location adjoining his house and occupied it. As the Gram Panchayat was owner of this plot, no injunction could be allowed to the appellant. Even otherwise, possession has been taken from the appellant in due course of law as per decree of the trial Court in favour of appellant and the relief of injunction is no more available to him or can be allowed.

12. The report of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Raipur Rani dated 21.3.2013 and the proceedings of delivery of possession, placed on file, depict that Gram Panchayat has been put in possession of the suit land under the orders of Collector, Panchkula dated 11.03.2013. Though, the appellant claims that he is still in possession of the suit property, the remedy available to him is to approach the competent authorities who have ordered his dispossession.

13. Even on merit, the appellant has no case to seek injunction. My above observation is based on the testimony of the appellant and his witness recorded by the trial Court:

(i) The appellant while appearing as PW1, had admitted that the disputed property was reserved for Dharamsala when the Adhoc Sarpanch wanted to take forcible possession of this site.

(ii) Itwari Lal, PW-2 had stated certain very relevant facts which seal the plea of plaintiff claiming title over the suit property. He has stated as follows :-

(a) The residents of the village laid the foundation of Dharamsala in the suit land.

(b) It is correct that disputed site is the vacant plot owned by Shamlat.

14. Statement of plaintiff and his witness formed the basis for the first Appellate Court to decline the relief of injunction to the appellant and rightly so.

15. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Jagpal Singh and others vs. State of Punjab and others, AIR 2011 (SC) 1123 has issued directions to the State Governments in the country to remove all unauthorized occupants over the land of Gram Panchayat. The directions given in para No.22 of the judgment are as follows :-

“22. Before parting with this case we give directions to all the State Governments in the country that they should prepare schemes for eviction of illegal/unauthorized occupants of Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat/Poramboke/Shamlat land and these must be restored to the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat for the common use of villagers of the village. For this purpose the Chief Secretaries of all State Governments/Union Territories in India are directed to do the needful, taking the help of other senior officers of the Governments. The said scheme should provide for the speedy eviction of such illegal occupant, after giving him a show cause notice and a brief hearing. 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.”

16. The plaintiff is not entitled to the relief of injunction as prayed for. The substantial question of law, as framed in this appeal, is decided in favour of the respondent.

17. There is no merit in this appeal and the same is dismissed with costs.

(SURINDER GUPTA)

JUDGE
21.12.2013








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