Wednesday, December 31, 2014

250 conflicts over land acquisition recorded in 2013 and 2014

Most conflicts arise from government takeover of land, often on behalf of private investors: Report
More than 250 conflicts have arisen over cases between 2013 and 2014 in 165 of India's 664 districts.

This is revealed in a mapping exercise carried out by a Washington-based think tank, (RRI), along with Delhi-based Society for Promotion of Wasteland Development (SPWD).

The land ordinance cleared by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Monday hopes to ease the future business of land acquisition across the country.

The map of conflicts over land suggests that unlocking land from existing protests and litigation may not be that easy. At least a quarter of India's districts are affected by conflicts, the map showed. The land ordinance does not address conflicts arising out of many other laws under which land acquisition takes place, except for increasing the rate of compensation.

The authors of the report say: "Most of these conflicts arise from government takeover of lands, often on behalf of private investors."

Kundan Kumar, director of the Asia Regional Program of RRI, said, "Given India's complex land and forest tenure history, transparent and accountable decision making and respect for people's rights are vital missing elements."

RRI is a coalition of 14 partners and over 150 international, regional and community organisations anchored by the Washington-based Rights and Resources Group, a US-based non-profit organisation (www.rightsandresources.org).

They work together in more than 20 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, on advancing forest tenure, land policy and market reforms.

It has previously too mapped land conflicts in India and reviewed forest and land reform policies in several countries. SPWD is a non-profit organisation in Delhi working on land and resource degradation since 1982 (www.spwd.org).

The map was released before the land ordinance was passed by the government but after reports of the Centre's plans to amend the land acquisition law, as well as make changes to tribal rights over forest lands.

Kumar said, "This raises serious doubts about whether the current model of land takeover - where bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors to displace or impoverish millions of people - is sustainable in the long run."

The consequence of forced displacements and consequences of large scale land acquisition done so far is also documented in the High Level Committee on status of tribals.

The committee estimated that 60 million people had been displaced and affected by (private and public) projects between 1947 and 2000.

It quotes researchers' estimates that people were displaced from 25 million hectares, including seven million hectares of forests and six million hectares of other common property resources during this per period. The report has not been made public as yet by the government.

http://www.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/250-conflicts-over-land-acquisition-recorded-in-2013-and-2014-114123100051_1.html

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Dept tagging those willing to pay for encroached village land

Jatinder Kohli , Hindustan Times  Jalandhar, October 13, 2014

The state rural development and panchayat department has been working on a proposal to sell encroached portion of common village land (shamlat) to encroachers if they are ready to pay its cost to the government.
The step has been necessitated by the failure of the department to get its land vacated by people who have been residing on the shamlat (common) land of gram panchayat for years.

In a letter to divisional deputy directors of departments in Ferozepur, Patiala and Jalandhar (a copy is with Hindustan Times), the joint director has asked them to carry out a survey in their divisions through the district development and panchayat officers to identify common lands in areas on which people are residing and asks for a list of people, who are willing to pay the cost of land.

A report has been sought on the village level, including the total area of the land and the therein.

IDEA BEHIND THE MOVE

This thought was first articulated by a committee on the panchayati raj (local government) in the state legislative assembly, on the rationale that it would increase the income of the panchayats.

The committee recognised the fact that thousands of people had been living on panchayat lands by constructing their houses for more than 50 years are ready to pay the cost. The panel suggested that the income of panchayats will increase due to this and be further used for development. The state government also has a policy wherein the land could be handed over to people living on it, if cost is paid.

Sources said that hundreds of acres of village land had been encroached upon the state and the department officers had been hard-pressed to take a decision on the status.

Meanwhile, sources said most of the encroachments had been done by people of the weaker sections and as and when the land is needed to be vacated, a rehabilitation solution should also be in place.

A senior official of department said that department had not given any time frame for the preparation of the report, but had just asked for immediate work on the issue.
"We have requested the department to give us more time as we do not have enough manpower," said an official.

When contacted, director, rural development and panchayat department Siban C said reports were yet to be received. He added the department wanted to know the area in the state under encroachment and the number of cases pending at the district level.


FOR LAND AND REVENUE
The step has been necessitated by the failure of the state rural development and panchayat department to get land vacated by people who have been residing on the shamlat (common) land of gram panchayat for years.
No time line has been fixed for this, but the logic advanced is that the panchayats' income will rise if the land is sold legally.

Sources said most of the encroachments had been done by people of the weaker sections and as and when the land is needed to be vacated, a rehabilitation solution should also be in place.


http://www.hindustantimes.com/punjab/jalandhar/dept-tagging-those-willing-to-pay-for-encroached-village-land/article1-1274949.aspx

No Govt Step Yet on SC Order

By Express News Service
Published: 27th October 2014

BALANGIR: Though the Supreme Court (SC) had directed all the State Governments to formulate a policy for eviction of unauthorised occupation of common land in 2011, the Odisha Government is yet to work on the directive.

Sources said the Government land like Gochar (grazing land), Jalchar (water sources), Patra jungle (minor forest), Smasan (cremation ground), Anabadi (unused land) and Dera Ghar  (meant for construction of rest house) are encroached by influential people in most of villages and towns in the district.

As per the District Statistical Hand Book published in 2009, the district had 56,239 hectare (ha) of forest cover, 52,419 ha to be used for non-agricultural purposes, 16,071 ha of barren and non-cultivable land, 40,026 ha of permanent pasture and grazing land, 1162 ha of land for miscellaneous use and 22932 ha of cultivable waste land. Similarly, as per Patna State Settlement in 1936, there were 9087 water harvesting structures in the district.

Village common land was used for public utility purposes including playground, water bodies, grazing of cattle and cremation since long. Gradually, this type of land was encroached by influential people depriving villagers of community use.

Similarly, in industrial areas, water bodies and forest cover have declined drastically. The heavily silted small ponds having limited water holding capacity have mostly disappeared. During land settlement, influential people in the villages managed to record such land in their favour.

A study conducted by Rastra Bharati, a social organisation working on land issues, in 20 villages of Bangomunda and Turekela blocks in 2013-14 revealed that the size and productivity of common land have declined by 75-80 per cent during the last 50 years.

According to environment experts, destruction of traditional water harvesting systems has impacted the ground water recharge process leading to water shortage and drought in the district. Balangir region is prone to drought than any other natural calamity. Between 1965 and 2014, it was under the grip of drought on 14 occasions.

Patnagarh town used to have around 120 water bodies and almost all nearby villages had their own water bodies. But now, those have disappeared. Similarly, Narayan Sagar, a large water body in Loisingha, which was constructed over 133 acres of land by the then zamindar Narayan Singh Roy in 1857, has vanished.
When contacted, Collector M Muthukumar said he had not received any instruction from the State Government on SC’s directives. After getting the same, he will act as per the guidelines, the Collector added.

http://www.newindianexpress.com/states/odisha/No-Govt-Step-Yet-on-SC-Order/2014/10/27/article2494963.ece

It's now official: Gujarat's 65% of the common village land encroached upon by vested interests, corporates

October 25, 2014



By Our Representative
It is now official. A recent survey, quoting Gujarat government sources, has found that, despite loud claims, Gujarat would be suffering from a shortage of a whopping 65 per cent of the common village land, meant for grazing of cattle. Carried out by a team of activists working under the Maldhari Rural Action Group (MARAG), an Ahmedabad-based non-profit organisation, the survey was carried in 90 villages in three districts – Kutch, Patan and Surendranagar. The survey uniquely juxtaposed the spot analysis in each of the villages and the government data on gauchar – as the grazing land is identified – and found that there is not much difference between the two.

Quoting official government sources, the survey said, in the 30 villages of Nakhatra taluka of Kutch district, there should have been 24,880.8 acres of land for 65,317 cattle, if the official norm of 40 acre for 100 cattleheads is to be maintained. However, the survey found that only 2,736.1 acres of land existed as gauchar, suggesting a shortfall of 74.08 per cent. Based on interviews with cattle breeders or maldharis, the survey found that there was not much difference – the cattle breeders said, there should have been 24,448 acres land, while only 3,735 acres existed for 61,211 cattleheads.

The situation was found to be not very different for 30 villages taken up for survey in Shankheshwar taluka of Patan district, where, officially, there should have been 11,278 acres of gauchar land, though only 4,290.9 acres (or 37 per cent of the actual requirement) was available for 28,195 cattleheads. Similarly, in the 30 villages surveyed in the Patdi taluka of Surendrangar district, there should have been 10,180 acres of land, while only 5,083.23 acres (or 50 per cent) gauchar was available to feed 25,450 cattleheads. In Patan and Surendranagar district also, the surveyors did not find much discrepancy between official and maldhari figures.

A short analysis of the survey said that in none of the villages did the team found the norm of 40 villages per acre has been maitantained. “According to the complaints we received, most of the gauchar land has either been encroached upon by vested interests or has been illegally handed over for industrial or other commercial use”, the analysis said, adding, “We also found that that there has not been any land measurement of the area required for cattle in Gujarat villages. A spot survey needs to be carried out by the revenue department officials for this on a regular interval.”

The survey demanded that not only the norm of 40 acres of gauchar land for every 100 cattleheads should be maintained, efforts should also be made to ensure that encroachments are removed, so that the maldharis are able to eke their livelihood. “In fact, the government should initiate formation of maldhari committees in each village for this”, the analysis said, adding, “Lack of common village land for grazing purposes is one of the reasons why the problem of stray cattle has come into existence.”

The analysis sought to blame dominant sections of two important communities of – Patel and Darbar – for cornering and encroaching upon most of the gauchar land. “Grasslands were either encroached upon either by the dominant sections of the two communities or by people having farms next the grasslands”, it said, adding, “The government has not allacated land to the landless, and instead allowed it to pass it on to powerful persons. The situation is that 80 per cent of the Kadamm community in Kutch and Surendranagar districts have been rendered landless. And those who have been allocated land, it is mostly not irrigable.” 

Meanwhile, senior activists believe that Kutch's maldharis have suffered the most because of post-2001 killer quake industrialisation, in which entrepreneurs were given huge concessions to set up shop. Talking to Counterview, a representative from the Kutch Mahila Vikas Sangathan, who participated in a recent Asian activists' meet in North Gujarat, said that a separate survey of Mundra taluka, where the Adanis have set up a modern port and a special economic zone, suggested that in as many as 11 villages all gauchar land has disappeared. “Plans to survey and provide land have not been successful either”, the activist added.

http://www.counterview.net/2014/10/its-now-official-gujarats-65-of-common.html

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Three villages to get grazing land back in APSEZ

Times of India
October 4, 2014
Saeed Khan, TNN
Ahmedabad

Three villages in the Mundra block will soon get the grazing land back after the government had allotted the plots from these grazing lands to the Adani Port Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) in the last decade.

Gujarat high court has asked the authorities to expedite the process of measurement of land hand over it to the respective village panchayats. 

This happened after the villagers filed PIL in 2011 through advocate Anand Yagnik stating that Navinlal, Luni and Goyarsama villages were left with limited gauchar land at their command after part of these plots were allotted by the government to the company for the SEZ development.

The petitioners stated that further dwindling the gauchar area would be detrimental to the villagers and make the sustenance of their cattle population extremely difficult in this area, which is otherwise chronic scarcity hit region. 

As the HC began hearing on this PIL, the state government granted 387 hectare land for gauchar of Navinlal and 85 hectare for Luni villages as per their requirement. The formality of the measurement was not completed and the villages could not utilize the land.

The HC has asked the District Inspector of Land Records (DILR) of revenue department to carry out measurement of this land by end of this month. The concerned mamlatdar has been asked to demarcate the boundaries of land and to issue a Sanad in favour of respective gram panchayats. For Goyarsama village, the HC asked the revenue department to identify the requirement and undertake the process of land allotment at the earliest.
     
 http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Three-villages-to-get-grazing-land-back-in-APSEZ/articleshow/44324473.cms


Copyright © 2014, Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.   

Monday, September 8, 2014

Govt. Of Orissa - Clarification regarding change of classification of land classified as communal

The Additional Chief Secretary to the Government, Revenue and D.M. Dept., Government of Orissa has issued a Clarification regarding change of classification of land classified as communal. This clarification has been issued after queries have been raised on whether permissive possession can be accorded for  utilisation of land recorded as communal or Sarbasadharana in the settlement records in the context of the Supreme Court ruling in the Jagpal Singh Case.

In its clarification dated 27th August, 2014, the Government has issued guidelines that shall be followed in the matter concerning lands classified as communal or Sarbasadharana in the settlement records. 

The said clarification is appended below. 




































Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A.P. State Information Commission Order in Appeal No:957/SIC-MR/2012

This post is regarding a Right to Information (RTI) application filed by one Mr. A.M. Prasad Sharma to direct the Chief Secretary Govt. of A.P. to provide information regarding the eviction of illegal/ unauthorized occupations in Gram Panchayat lands and to report compliance to the Supreme Court from time to time.

For not getting the desired information sought by him from the Public Information Officer/The Tahsildar, Vijayawada Urban Mandal, Vijayawada as well as the First Appellate Authority/the Revenue Division Officer , Vijayawada, Mr. Sharma filed a second appeal received by APIC.

Below is a copy of the order of the State Information Commission dated 15.1.2014



Thursday, July 31, 2014

12,208 ha panchayat land encroached in Haryana:CAG

Press Trust of India
Jul 14, 2014

A Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report has revealed that 12,208 hectares of panchayat land in Haryana had been encroached upon while Rs 2.39 crore of annuity had not been paid by state public sector undertakings.
The CAG, in its report on Social, General and Economic Sectors which was tabled in the Haryana Assembly today, found that land measuring 12,208 hectares was under encroachment as of January 2013 but the cases for eviction in respect of only 7,567.38 hectares were filed up to September 2013. 

In the remaining cases, the Principal Secretary directed, in September 2013, the staff to initiate proceedings to remove encroachment. However, the final action was awaited, the report states. The report was based on records of the Director General of Development and Panchayats departments. 

The report said in seven test checked districts, no gram panchayats had prepared the land utilisation plan as required under the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules, 1964. 

The DG (D&P) stated in September 2013 that it was due to shortage of revenue staff in the field. There are 6,083 gram panchayats having 3,37,698.4 hectares area of common land as of March 2013. 

The Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961 also applicable to Haryana provides that all lands vested or deemed to have been vested in a panchayat shall be utilised or disposed of by it for the benefit of inhabitants of the village concerned. 

The CAG found that the state public sector undertakings had not paid the annuity in six cases and in two cases, the full payment of annuity was not made which resulted in non recovery of annuity of Rs 2.39 crore. 

In five districts, the annuity so sanctioned and released was not actually disbursed to gram panchayats and a sum of Rs 7.13 crore (including interest) was lying in the bank account of the District Development and Panchayat Officers (DDPO), according to the report.


Copyrights © 2014 Business Standard Ltd

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Encroachment of pastoral land continues unabated

Times of India
Jul 24, 2014

The state government received 10,814 complaints about encroachment on pastoral (gauchar) land in the past four years - from 2010-11 to 2013-14. Despite the Supreme Court order not allowing any encroachment on the pastoral land, the number of cases has increased in the state. Pastoral land is the common property of a village and owned by the government. 

According to official figures given by state panchayat department minister in a response to an unstarred question asked by a Congress MLA, a total of 10,814 complaints were received in four years and 6,968 of those complaints were addressed during the period. Bharuch, Junagadh, Gandhinagar, Patan and Ahmedabad districts reported a high number of complaints. Chief minister Anandiben Patel responded to several questions regarding allotment of pastoral land for various purposes, including industrial and residential.The Supreme Court's January 2011 order had put strict restriction on sale of gauchar (pastoral) land and wanted removal of the encroachment on gauchar land. The SC order said: "Pastoral land and other community resources belonging to a village shall not be given for industrial or commercial use and should strictly be used for communities."The SC had directed all state governments to formulate schemes for eviction of illegal/unauthorised occupants of land meant for gram sabha, gram panchayat and other community uses.


Copyright © 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

Ram Singh & Ors. v. Union of India, Ors, Original Application No 16/2014(CZ).

Original Application No. 16/2014(CZ) (THC)

Coram: Hon'ble Mr. Justice Dalip Singh (Judicial Member), Hon'ble Mr. P.S. Rao (Expert Member)

Status: Application Disposed Of
Dated: 20 May 2014 

Summary:
This case was originally filed as a Public Interest Litigation/Writ Petition bearing No. 7988/2005 before the High Court of Rajasthan at Jaipur Bench by the four Applicants with the prayer that the record pertaining to allotment and grant of mining leases to the Respondent Nos. 7 & 8 in Khasra Nos. 155, 157 and 207/1 situated at village Hasampur, Tehsil Neem-Ka-Thana, District Sikar, Rajasthan be re-examined on the ground that the land in the aforesaid Khasra Nos. comprises pasture land and is a part of the Aravali Range and therefore the mining leases granted to them be revoked.

The Hon'ble Tribunal held that since the Government has also taken note of the Supreme Court judgement in Jagpal Singh & Ors vs. State of Punjab & Ors, specific instances of any violation of the direction issued by the Supreme Court may be brought to the notice of this Tribunal or the concerned authority and it is expected that the concerned authorities shall take note of the same and initiate action after following the procedure prescribed. 

As far as the three mining leases are concerned since all of them are at present remained closed as and when application or information is submitted by the mining lease holders to the SPCB (State Pollution Control Board), the SPCB shall issue necessary orders in accordance with law. Having said so, it is directed that as and when such applications are submitted by the lessees and the orders passed by the SPCB on such application, the same shall be filed before the Tribunal for examination of the same. 

This Application stands disposed of in the above terms.

http://www.greentribunal.gov.in/judgment/16_2013(THC)(App)(CZ)_20May2014_final_order.pdf










Thursday, May 22, 2014

Land grab in Chandigarh's perihery : High court appoints amicus curiae

May 18, 2014
TNN, CHANDIGARH

In a case related to illegal possession of land by politicians, bureaucrats, senior cops and other bigwigs in the periphery of Chandigarh, the Punjab and Haryana high court, on Thursday, appointed senior advocate ML Sarin amicus curie (friend of the court) to assist the HC. The appointment came in the wake of the HC observation that the Punjab government failed to provide requisite information before the court. A division bench of the HC clarified that Sarin would coordinate with the government to place facts of the case before the court. 

Meanwhile, the counsel for the Punjab government informed the HC that the state has already issued a public notice for residents of 12 villages around Chandigarh to enable them to come up with representations and grievances on the land grab issue. The case has now been fixed for July 15.

On April 24, the HC had directed the Punjab government to issue a public notice so that villagers can express their grievances before court. The matter reached high court when Nayagaon resident Kuldip Singh filed a writ petition in 2007, alleging land grab by VIPs. An inquiry was conducted by then DGP-rank officer Chander Shekhar, who superannuated on November 11, 2011. Thereafter, the HC ordered constitution of a three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Kuldip Singh, a retired Supreme Court judge. Initially, the tribunal proposed to probe illegal possession of village common land/forest land by senior authorities, but later the HC clubbed all pending cases and expanded the scope to bring illegal possession of land in the state under its purview. In its interim reports, the panel headed by former SC judge, Justice Kuldip Singh pointed out widespread land grabbing in the periphery of Chandigarh.


http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chandigarh/Land-grab-in-Chandigarhs-perihery-High-court-appoints-amicus-curiae/articleshow/35278043.cms


Copyright © 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vikas Samiti Goner Road v. State of Rajasthan & Ors., CWP (PIL) No.14191/2012

Summary: The below case has been filed by way of a Public interest Litigation against illegal encroachment by land grabbers who have set up residential colonies over public land  reserved for a pond. The petitioner had previously made complaints regarding the same way back in 1996/2006 for which reason the Petition could not be considered at this stage.

The Court, however, held that it would be considered appropriate to grant liberty to the petitioner to make representation in light of the Jagpal Singh Judgement and in furtherance of the circular dated 25.04.2011 issued by the State Government in compliance of the said judgement, apprising the competent authority of the grievance, who after due examination, may pass speaking order within three months thereafter and the final decision may be communicated to the petitioner.
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In The High Court of Judicature for Rajasthan
Jaipur Bench, Jaipur
O R D E R
D.B. Civil Writ Petition (PIL) No.14191/2012
Date : 14.11.2013


Hon'ble Mr. Justice Ajay Rastogi
Hon'ble Mr.Justice J.K. Ranka

Mr. R.R. Sharma, for petitioner.

Instant public interest petition has been filed by the vigilant society of whom the petitioner is a social worker & President of Vikas Samiti Goner Road (East) Ghati Karolan Colonies, Jaipur.

The main grievance of the petitioner for invoking jurisdiction of this Court is that the illegal encroachment is rampant going on over the public land which has been reserved for catchment area for resources of water (pond), situated at Khaniya Bandha, Ghat Ki Guni, Jaipur which was constructed in the year 1899 by the then His Highness of Jaipur for supply of water to the villagers of Goner and nearby villages situated at Agra Road. 

His further contention is that the reserved land has been encroached by some of the land grabbers and they have set up residential colonies and as regards the present petitioner, he is fighting with tooth & nail and going from pillar to post by making his complaints to the respective authorities but all his efforts remained in vein and after the legal notice of demand for justice being served, has approached to this Court by filing public interest petition.

As regards the complaints which has been alleged by the petitioner, it pertains to the year 1996/2006 which were made to the respective authorities and after service of legal notice in the year 2012, filed instant public interest petition in this Court. 

He has further brought to our notice that Hon'ble Apex Court in Jagpal Singh & Ors. Vs. State of Punjab & Ors., (Civil Appeal No.1132/2011 @ SLP (C) No.3109/2011), decided on 28.01.2011, while taking cognizance of such alike encroachments nearby pond areas, finally disposing of public interest petition observed as under :-

“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.”

He further submits that in compliance of directions of Hon'ble Apex Court, referred to supra, sent to all the Chief Secretaries of the States, the State Government has also issued circular dt.25.04.2011 but that remains a paper compliance and according to him the respective authority has not given effect to the mandate of law & the circular issued by the State Government and that is the reason for which he has approached to this Court by filing instant public interest petition.

Since the representations/applications made by the petitioner pertain to 1996/2006 and has approached to this Court after serving legal notice in the year 2012, that cannot be considered at this stage, however, we consider it appropriate to grant liberty to the petitioner to make representation in light of the judgment, referred to supra, & in furtherance of the circular issued by the State Government in compliance thereof dt.25.04.2011 apprising of the grievance raised herein to the competent authority, who after due examination, may pass speaking order within three months thereafter and final decision may be communicated to the petitioner who if still feels aggrieved will be at liberty to avail remedy which the law permits to him.

With these directions/observations, the petition stands disposed of.


(J.K. Ranka),J. (Ajay Rastogi),J.







Thursday, April 3, 2014

Balbir Singh and Ors. v. State of Haryana and Ors., CWP No. 6068 of 2014

Summary:
This petition has been filed by Balbir Singh and other petitioners on the matter of encroachment of a village pond in Karnal district. It has been filed due to the inaction of the concerned authorities on the matter despite an order being passed in the matter in 1990.

Referring to the Supreme Court judgment in the case of Jagpal Singh, the Hon'ble Judges called upon the state of Haryana to take action in accordance with law in respect of the encroachments and to inform the court as to what steps have been taken to implement the said judgment of the Supreme Court in the state. The Bench also fixed the date of April 11, 2014 for compliance.


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IN THE HIGH COURT OF PUNJAB AND HARYANA AT CHANDIGARH


Civil Writ Petition No.6068 of 2014 (O&M) 
DATE OF DECISION: 31.03.2014

Balbir Singh and others          …..Petitioners 

versus 

State of Haryana and others       .....Respondents 


CORAM:- HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, CHIEF JUSTICE 
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE ARUN PALLI 


Present: Mr. Ravinder Malik, Advocate for the petitioner 



SANJAY KISHAN KAUL, CHIEF JUSTICE: (Oral) 
Notice of motion. 

Mr. Ajay Gupta, Addl. Advocate General, Haryana accepts notice on behalf of respondents No.1 to 6. 

A complete set of paper-book be supplied to him during the course of the day. 

The grievance made in the present petition is qua encroachment on the village pond, phirni, etc. in respect of the shamlat land of village Chakda, Tehsil Nissing, District Karnal (Haryana) by villagers and Lambardar of the area, who are petitioners. The encroachment is alleged to be that of husband of the Sarpanch and it is stated that despite an order being passed as far back as 16.8.1990 under Section 7 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, as applicable to State of Haryana, at ground level, nothing has been done. Instructions are stated to have been issued by superior authorities, but to no effect and, thus, the present writ petition has been filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuance of appropriate writ, order or direction in public interest to the concerned authorities to take action qua the encroachments. 

A reference has been made to an earlier order passed by us in CWP No.3571 of 2014 on 25.2.2014 where we had relied upon the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Jagpal Singh and others vs. State of Punjab and others, 2011 AIR (SC) 1123 and there is a mandate for the State Governments and Union Territories to take action for protection of the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat/ Poramboke/Shamlat land with a scheme for speedy eviction, more so as part of the area is village pond. 

We, thus, call upon the State of Haryana to take action in accordance with law qua the encroachments and inform the Court as to what steps have been taken to implement the said judgment of the Supreme Court in the State. 

The petition accordingly stands disposed of. 

List for compliance on 11.04.2014 when the respondents will file a compliance report at least three days prior to the next date. 

( SANJAY KISHAN KAUL ) 
CHIEF JUSTICE


( ARUN PALLI) 
JUDGE 


31.03.2014




Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Over 11,000 encroachments on pastoral land in Gujarat

Times of India
April 2, 2014
Kapil Dave, TNN
Gandhinagar

Despite Supreme Court's order to clear encroachments and restrict sale of pastoral (gauchar) land, Gujarat still has more than 12,000 cases related to illegal possession of pastoral lands.

The apex court, had in January 2011, stated that "pastoral lands and other community resources belonging to a village shall not be given for industrial or commercial use and should strictly be used for communities' use".

The court had directed all the state governments to formulate schemes for eviction of illegal or unauthorized occupants of land meant for gram sabha, gram panchayat and other community uses and said that "long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure on constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession".

Even after more than three years, the state government has failed to come out with new guidelines or a policy for removing the unauthorized occupants or encroachments on 'gauchar' and other public lands. According to the recent status report of the state government, there are more than 11,950 registered encroachments on 'gauchar' lands, of which majority are more than five years old. According to the state government official figures, highest 'Gauchar' encroachment was registered in Gandhinagar (1,776). It was followed by Patan (1,722), Amreli (1,212), Ahmedabad (1,193) and Mehsana (1,093).

Pastoral land is the common property of a village owned by the government. Despite several restrictions by the Supreme Court and the Gujarat High Court, the government gave away more than 1.16 lakh square metres of 'gauchar' land in last four years in five districts of the state.

In Gujarat, around 424 villages have no pastoral land left. The state should have 39.56 lakh hectares of grazing land, according to a revenue department notification issued in December 1988, which mandated 16 hectares (40 acres) of pastoral land for 100 animals in normal areas and 8 hectares (20 acres) for the same in forest areas.

A senior government official of the state revenue department said, "Encroachers are politically inclined, so local bodies also avoid reporting or removing a encroachment. A lot of encroachments are made by powerful industries and political persons, so administration also doesn't take any action. Only encroachments of small time landless labourers are removed. The new 'gauchar' policy is stuck at the top level.''



Copyright © 2014 Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Unauthorise occupation of State land across J&K - Govt. issues directions to all field functionaries for eviction

16 March 2014
Mohinder Verma
Daily Excelsior, Jammu

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Summary : The below article published in the 'Daily Excelsior' highlights the directions taken by the State of Jammu & Kashmir pursuant to the Jagpal Singh case.

On being reprimanded by the High Court the Government has issued directions to all the concerned field functionaries to take immediate steps for the eviction of unauthorised occupants who have encroached State/common land.

The Chief Secretary submitted before the High Court that pursuant to the directions of the Supreme Court in the Jagpal Singh case, a comprehensive scheme has already been formulated and notified to provide for eviction of illegal/unauthorised occupation of common lands.

These submissions before the Court are pursuant to the directions of the Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Dhiraj Thakur on 4 Sept, 2014 directing the Chief Secretary to file a responce on the illegal encroachment, and also to explain about the future course of action concerning huge encroachment on the State land in J&K.
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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

High Court stays construction over water body at Kunjwani Talab

Jammu
26.02.2014

A PIL was filed by capt. Narendra Singh, Balwant Singh, Daljit Singh, Bua Ditta Mohd. Hussain, Gulam Fareed, Ludhar Mani, Om Nath and Karnail Singh through B. R. Chandan, Advocate.

The Relevant Extract of PIL reads

"3. That recently the J&K water and resources management Act, 2010 has been passed by the Govt. of J&K wherein Section 3 of the Act says that every water body or natural resources has been declare as the property of the Govt. No individual, society or organization community or religion has any right to encroach and use the same for their personal benefits. Section 3 of the act is reproduced as under for the kind perusal of the Hon'ble Court.
(a) Every water source in the State is, and shall remain, the property of the Govt. and any proprietary ownership or any repair or usage right on such water resources vested or any individual, group of individuals or any other body, corporation, company, society on community shall, from the date of the commencement of the Act be deem to have been terminated and vested with the Govt.
(b) No person shall use any water from any source (surface or ground) or collect or extract any material from such water resources except in provision of the Act. Section 4(ab)- Prevention of encroachment of existing of water bodies and deterioration of water quality in the such water bodies and deterioration of water quality in such water bodies due to the pollution.

4. That the petitioner aggrieved of the senseless and unbridlled encroachments by the land grabbers of the water bodies as a result of which depletion of water level because of shrinking traditional water bodies and seasonal Nallahs narrowing downs of rives beds, khads and other green covers or constrained to invoke the jurisdiction of this Hon'ble Court for conservation, preservation and protection of water bodies and the land appurtenant to it with green cover after setting the natural resources free from land grabbers. Criminals and other miscreants having bureaucratic nexus and even the patronization of the political mentors, in the interest of public and existence of society as a whole it has been learned in reports appearing in a newspapers and also from reliable sources that the reliable sources that the green cover in and around the Jammu City and in the Kandi Area in particular is fast shrinking water bodies almost and the land attached to the water bodies is almost extinguished being encroached water active patronization of the bureaucratic and politicians which ultimately has endangered the inhabitation and in other may has invited the natural disaster. The land grabbing and illegal encroachment of the natural resources is at peak where as those interest with protection of the same or either mute spectator or have connive or execution of the nefarious designs of the miscreants and the enemies of the human existence. The traditional water bodies, seasonal ponds, shappris and other water reservoir and the green cover appurtenant to it have almost made their traditional sources of water and greenery to disappear from the scene just to satisfy their unending desires and lust for money. The nefarious motive of the miscreants and land grabbers who have eaten the green gold of over area and their could not possible without the could not possible without the could not possible without the guidance and active support of the guidance and active support of the bureaucrats and politicians and accordingly those are responsible for recklessness destructions of our mutual resources (water bodies) deserves to be penalize for the same Division Bench of J&K Court comprising of Chief Justice M.M. Kumar & justice D.S. Thakur passed the following order."

Hon'ble Mr. Justice M. M. Kumar,Chief Justice
Hon'ble Justice Dhiraj Singh Thakur, Judge
Appearing counsel:
For the petitioner (s): Mr. B. R. Chandan, Advocate.

1. Learned counsel for the petitioners has placed reliance on the judgment of Hon'ble the Supreme Court rendered in Jagpal Singh and others v. State of Punjab and others, AIR 2011 SC, 1123 (P1) and has argued that the water bodies in the village should be protected from the encroachers. Mr. Chandan has drawn our attention the observations made in para 7 and 8 of the judgment to support his contentions.

2. Notice of motion.

3. Mr. Ravinder Sharma, AAG vice Mr. H.A. Siddiqui,AAG accepts notice. Let copy of the paper book be handed over to the learned State counsel.

4. Reply, if any, be filed within six weeks with a copy in advance to the counsel opposite.

5. List on 01.04.2014.

6. In the meanwhile, construction over the water body known as kunjwani Talab situated at village Deeli, Jammu shall remain stayed."

http://www.journeyline.in/newsdet.aspx?q=46588

Copyright © 2012 Journey Line

Monday, February 24, 2014

Efforts of the Village Institutions of Dhuwala, Bhilwara

Bhilwara
21 Feb 2014

The below clip is in continuation of the newspaper clipping from Rajasthan Patrika on 23-01-2014 which reflects efforts of Dhuwala Village Institutions fighting against an order wherein common land has been allotted to individual farmers. The Institutions have been fighting since 2011 for this patch of land. FES along with village volunteers from the institutions, where the process has been completed, have supported the village institutions of Dhuwala in advocating for conversion of revenue wastelands to grazing land.

The details of the newspaper clipping below are that a meeting was called by Dhuwala federation in which community members from around 80 villages have participated to raise their voice against the allotment of commons. Out of 16 villagers to whom the land was allotted 12 have surrendered but 4 villagers who belong to same family have refused to surrender. Federation members have discussed the matter with them but they have refused to surrender. Federation members have said that they will approach the State Level Administration if the allotment will not be rejected by the District Administration.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Office of the Collector (Deputy Commisioner), Leh, Order No. 532 Rev of 2014 dt, 06/02/2014

Summary:

The below order of the Collector (Deputy Commissioner), Leh, is in relation to the acquisition of State/village common land for the Indian Army for the public purpose of setting up a light Helicopter Base.

The matter dates back to 2005 when the Army was allowed to take possession of the land in question, after duly compensating the private owners of the land. A group of villagers approached the Deputy Commissioner alleging that the said land was not private land but was originally village pasture land illegally mutated in favour of certain private occupants, and thus belonged to the entire village.

An enquiry was conducted and the matter was brought forth before the J&K High Court (Srinagar Wing) in OWP No. 428/2013. The Collector in a written statement before the Hon'ble Court highlighting the fact that the land in dispute is indeed village common land, also made reference to the Jagpal Singh Judgement.

Based on the final order of the Hon'ble J&K High Court on 31-10-2013 in the above matter, The Collector ordered that :

1. Since the land in question is Kahcharai/chargah land, the mutations in favour of private occupants is set aside.

2. The said land is deemed to be Kahcharai/chargah land, and shall accordingly be reflected as such in the Revenue records.

3. Since the acquisition of the land for the Army has already been initiated, compensation for the said land shall be kept reserved for the common development/benefit of the village.







   http://leh.gov.in/Minutes%20of%20meeting/MOM%2012-02-2014.pdf

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vanishing commons

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The below article is not directly related to the Jagpal Singh Judgement but has been reproduced below for its relevance on the subject of commons in India :
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Across the country, the common wealth of the people, like land and water, is being sold off to big capital, leading to environmental degradation and loss of livelihoods for communities.  

Divya Trivedi
Frontline

THE COMMONS ARE UP FOR GRABS. The shared wealth of communities created and enjoyed by generations, the commons include the wind, water, resources below and above the earth, the grass, the leaves and, in modern settings, the pavements, playgrounds and also the Internet. From being public property for the common good, they are increasingly becoming private holdings for anybody who can name a price. And it is no longer a secret that political parties and corporate houses are colluding to ensure that every bit of land, water and natural resource is used up to feed the ghost of “development”.

From the east coast to the west coast, community rights are being trampled upon and converted into individual property rights to fit the capitalist scheme. Is there no resistance? Plenty of it, with affected people from across communities, used to the traditional ways of life, organising against the capitalist mafia, but to less and less avail.

As far as the political class is concerned, in denying the rights of the traditional communities, parties across the spectrum are proving to be more of a similar, rather than different, hue.

A conference on land rights, environmental protection and inclusive development organised by the Centre for Policy Research, the Christian Michelsen Institute and the University of Bergen in New Delhi last month saw the participants, led by the advocate Namita Wahi, thrashing out some of the issues plaguing our commons.

Gujarat

With a significant tribal population of 14-15 per cent, but with very few listed scheduled areas at the same time, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Gujarat is an evocative case study. The active capture of the coastal turf in Gujarat began nearly a decade and a half ago and the coastline today boasts of 41 ports and numerous power plants and special economic zones. With its nerve centre in Mundra, this industrial belt is dotted with projects ranging from ultra mega power projects to shipyards, agro parks and compressed natural gas (CNG) power plants.

In the rapid land-use transformation that has taken place within a span of 15 years, the synergy in the region between communities and the ecology has suffered irreversible damage, according to Kanchi Kohli, an independent researcher and writer. There are multiple projects with overlapping project areas, leading to confusion about allocation of land for various projects, rendering the exact status of the total land acquired ambiguous, she says.

Traditional farming and fishing communities are losing their hold on their livelihoods quickly and decisively. Their access to fishing harbours is blocked, there is a fall in fish catch. This is accompanied by the loss of grazing land. The industries have a damaging impact on horticulture and salt production too. This is leading to rising opposition to industrialisation per se. The ecological impact on water and air quality, mangroves, mudflats, inter-tidal areas, sand dunes, migratory birds and creeks are yet to be factored in. The privatisation of the commons, land and water has resulted in gated fishing harbours, where the fisherfolk now have to literally cross the threshold and walk through the gates of, say, an Adani property to reach the shore, says Kanchi Kohli.

At any given point in time there are 10-12 litigation proceedings initiated by individuals or groups of people from the community. Resistance by the people takes various shapes, involving negotiations and protests around land and access rights. But the problems remain, such as assessments and appraisals being compromised, tampering with baseline information of land use, post-facto studies, conditional approvals and limiting participation in decision-making, she says.

While violations of and non-compliance with regulatory procedures exist, there are legal challenges such as land restoration, repatriation of land, compensations, ecological destruction and impact assessments, she says. A ground report of the violations, authored by the Mundra Hitrakshak Manch, emphasises that the impact goes far beyond ecological destruction.

Giving the example of Gujarat’s industrialist Gautam Adani, known to be close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Kanchi Kohli says his company acquired land here 10 years ago but is starting to make use of it only now. In 1994, the Adanis made their first foray into Mundra, with the Gujarat Maritime Board approving a captive jetty. The Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone Limited (APSEZL) commenced its operations with one berth in October 1998 and today has 22 berths with a total quay length of 6.5 kilometres, in addition to two single-point moorings (SPM), according to Wikipedia. “The APSEZL’s Mundra Port is Adani Group’s crown jewel and the largest port in India,” states the company’s website.

Bharat Patel of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), Kutch, says the situation in Gujarat is poignant because when it comes to acquiring land for private capital, the government is not going after private land but is redistributing the commons. “Whenever the government in Gujarat or elsewhere makes a bid for a farmer’s land, if not compensated, it faces stiff resistance. But if the government takes over the commons, there is not much a people pushed to the brink of existence can do,” he says.

To give an example of state apathy, he says people whose lands were acquired for the Sardar Sarovar project were given land in the Mundra area. Now, when their lands are being acquired again in Mundra, they are being given land in the Sir Creek/Kori Creek area.

In 2012, a five-member committee, headed by Sunita Narain, director general of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment, and including officials from the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and experts on coastal ecosystems and disaster management, was set up to look into the complaints of environmental degradation and non-compliance with green regulations by Adani’s Mundra multipurpose projects. The committee submitted its report to the Ministry last year. It found that the company had damaged creeks and mangroves around its project site while securing clearances on a piecemeal basis, circumventing mandatory regulations. The group companies manipulated and obfuscated data to get around coastal regulation rules, it said.

The construction activity for its North Port had led to the blocking and destruction of creeks. Seventy-five hectares of mangroves that were declared as a conservation zone under the environmental clearance granted to the company had been destroyed.

Based on the findings of the committee, the MoEF slapped a Rs. 200 crore penalty on Adani’s Mundra multipurpose projects. “As a deterrent for non-compliance and violations, Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd (APSEZL) shall set up an Environment Restoration fund, distinct and separate from Corporate Social Responsibility activities under Company Law amounting to Rs.200 crores or one per cent of project cost, whichever is higher, to be used for remediation of environmental damage in Mundra. The Fund will be operated under the Chairmanship of Secretary, Environment & Forests, and will include following activities as enumerated by the Committe—Protection of marine ecology; Protection and conservation of mangroves, including development of new mangrove conservation areas; Restoration and conservation of creeks; Independent studies and monitoring of the entire project areas, including cumulative impacts and public data disclosure systems; Social infrastructure and livelihood support for fishers community, including development of access of fishers from their temporary settlements to villages,” stated the order dated September 30, 2013.

Activists say that notwithstanding the fine, this move may set a wrong precedent by allowing companies to continue damaging fragile ecosystems and legitimise it later by spending a fraction of their earnings for “restoration” activities.

The MoEF’s order further states that under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the North Port area and Bocha Island should be declared a conservation zone and protected. All the creeks, waterbodies and reclaimed land in these areas should be restored and brought back to the pre-2005 status within six months, according to the notice.

The Adanis were asked to prepare a specific action plan within six months to protect the livelihood of fishermen who had been affected by the degradation of marine ecology, the loss in fish catch and the loss of access to the sea because of the violations committed by the project. The plan should include a clear schedule of implementation and monitoring. Further, APSEZL shall provide necessary support for the development of an exclusive fishing harbour at Badreshwar, stated the order.

Within a month, the Adanis responded by stating that “Bocha Island and area proposed for North Port are not in possession of the APSEZL.” They said while they were committed to conserving the 88 hectares of mangrove in Bocha Island, they were unable to do so as local people were using the mangrove to collect fuel and for grazing their camels. They asked for the government’s support in this matter as they did not have any locus standi in restraining the local people from entering the area. They further stated that their project had no impact on fishermen as APSEZL had provided specific approach corridors for their movement through the APSEZL area.

“The entire waterfront is part of notified port-based SEZ area which is extremely sensitive from the national security point of view,” the Adanis stated in their response to the MoEF, dated October 14, 2013.

The company’s reluctance to comply with the order has raised questions about its intents and its attitude towards environment and ecological protection. Observers say that even if the fine is paid and a few mangroves planted, litigation may continue and the local people may lose their land and livelihood with little compensation.

In January this year, a Division Bench of the Gujarat High Court comprising Chief Justice Bhaskar Bhattacharya and Justice J.B. Pardiwala ordered the suspension and closure of 12 units in APSEZL in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by the residents of Navinal, a village inside the SEZ. Various companies have challenged the High Court order.

Later in the same month, the Supreme Court, in an interim order, gave partial relief to the companies and allowed the units to function, but restrained them from carrying out further construction.

Andhra Pradesh

In his paper “Law for Tribals and their Land for Grabbers”, Prof. Madabhushi Sridhar, Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission (CIC), New Delhi, states: “New crime was created in 1971. If a non-tribal purchases tribal land, it would be a crime punishable with one year in jail and Rs.2,000 penalty. An ordinary police station can receive a complaint from any person, need not be aggrieved, any public servant or on their own. But strangely no case is booked so far like that. (In regulations of assigned land transfers, complaint by Tahsildar is made essential).”

The Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Area Land Transfer Regulation of 1959 is the first post-Independence legislation that prevents transfer of tribal lands. Purchase of tribal lands was prohibited in 1959. By the time the law was extended to Telangana in 1963, non-tribal people from Andhra had occupied tribal lands. This regulation is popularly known as Act 1/70, a major amendment to the Land Transfer Regulation law, says Prof. Sridhar.

He adds:

“Transfer of land between non-tribals and non-tribals is also prohibited in Scheduled areas, by this Act 1/70. It was challenged on the grounds of breaching Article 14, of the equality of all before the law, but the Supreme Court upheld it saying that unlimited increase in non-tribal population in tribal areas would push tribals into forests which would endanger them and the environment.

“Officially, 48 per cent of land in the Scheduled Areas of Andhra Pradesh is either owned or controlled by non-tribals. Others say it has increased to 52 per cent now. Unofficially, 90 per cent of tribal lands are under the occupation of non-tribals.”

Until 1976, the Lambadas were not considered tribal people, says Prof. Sridhar. “Their influx from Maharashtra after 1976 and the influx of non-tribals from Krishna, East Godavari, West Godavari [districts] led to further grabbing cases. Approximately 76,000 cases were filed in 45 years. Around 33,000 cases went against tribal people, 50 per cent of tribal land went into the hands of non-tribals “legally”. Each of this “judgment” is one-sided, not represented by the aggrieved tribal people and highly unjustified. But no one opposed or appealed against the judgments. The government and its lawyers will not come to the rescue of the tribal people. Not even the Legal Services Authority,” says Prof. Sridhar.

“The Supreme Court gave a very good judgment in the Samata case in 1996. The government is regarded as Non-tribal, which means that it also cannot transfer tribal people’s land to non-tribals. But it left a major loophole wherein ‘inter-governmental transfer’ of land was not treated as transfer at all. The government was very happy, as it could continue its activities. The Revenue Department transferred tribal peoples’ land to the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation, which transferred it to non-tribal corporations. Tahsildars and other Revenue officers do not look into cases of agriculture land taken by the government prior to the judgment. Thousands of acres are under occupation of non-tribals through the government. Not even a single acre of land was given back to tribal people by the government,” he says.

Talking about his work in the Bora Caves, in his presentation “Health of the Hills is Wealth of the Plain”, Ravi Rebbrapragada, executive director of Samata, a non-governmental organisation, says that the local people are in constant struggle with landlords, the government and the Maoists. In the reservoir-rich territory of East Godavari and Visakhapatnam, a virtual battle for the bauxite deposits is under way, which adversely affects the access, availability and quality of water there, he says.

While the people may have been able to resist mining in the area, the rules of the game are changing. Unemployed tribal youth are being lured with motorcycles and mobile phones and it will not be long before some of them succumb to the temptations of capitalism. Until then we shall continue the struggle, says Ravi.


Copyright © 2014, Frontline.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Remove encroachments after demarcation: Collector

Indore 
January 28, 2014

District Collector Aakash Tripathi directed the revenue officials to remove encroachments from government lands immediately after admeasuring process. He also directed them to cancel leases of those contractors who are indulging in illegal mining.

He was taking part in a periodical review of reports at the Collectorate on Monday. Additional Collector Ravindra Singh, CEO zila Panchayat Ashish Singh, SDMs and other officials attended the meeting.

Regarding a land encroachment case of Piplyakumhar in Khajrana, the collector directed tehsildar Bajrang Bahadur to immediately remove encroachment. A lease has been cancelled in Revti Range area and the mining officer was directed to take physical possession of the mine land. The RTO was also directed to be present in periodical review meetings.

Directions were also received for recovery of funds that were issued as scholarship to ineligible candidates.The collector directed the medical officers to conduct surprise inspection of nursing homes and take action in case of irregularities. Officials were also directed to address the issues and cases received on the CM helpline.Labour sheds would be made at 13 places in the city.


© 2014, ↑ The Freepress Journal

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

JUSTICE KULDIP SINGH REPORT - Land grab on UT periphery: HC asks Punjab to clarify stand

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, January 27


The Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked Punjab Government to specify its stand on appointing a senior-level officer to look into the findings of Justice Kuldip Singh in land grab cases in Chandigarh’s periphery.

As the case came up for hearing, the Division Bench comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Fateh Deep Singh directed the state government to explain by February 10 whether it was ready to consider the reports as prima facie evidence of encroachment on panchayat land or not.

The Bench also made it clear that the officer, if appointed, would be given powers of a collector exercising jurisdiction under the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961.

The Court made it clear that the issue of granting extension to the tribunal would be taken up on the next date of hearing. The state has been asked not to notify the name without its approval.

As the case came up for hearing, the Court asked Punjab Additional Advocate-General Rita Kohli to specify “whether the state was ready to confer the power of a collector on a senior functionary of the state government to exercise jurisdiction under the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, treating the report of the tribunal as prima facie evidence of encroachment of panchayat land”.

Facing allegations of maintaining double standards on probe in land grab matters, the Punjab Government had, on the previous date of hearing, tried to defend its action of setting up a second panel by claiming that it was constituted to suggest a strategy for retrieval of encroached land.

In an affidavit, the state said the second report of Justice Kuldip Singh panel had mentioned illegal transfer and possession of public land in more than 30 villages in Chandigarh’s periphery, including large chunks being used for commercial purposes.

The affidavit said scrutiny of revenue record was necessary to arrive at the precise particulars of lands encroached upon, and to suggest a strategy for its retrieval.

“It was also felt desirable to prepare an inventory of public land in other villages of Mohali and ascertain the status regarding ownership and possession with a view to taking measures for retrieval of public land that might have been distributed through illegal transactions,” the affidavit read.


Copyright : The Tribune Trust, 2012