Monday, November 16, 2015

"Land for Common use encroached"

November 10,2015 10:06 IST

A group of villagers from Odaipatti in Dindiyur panchayat submitted a petition to the district administration alleging that an individual had encroached a land meant for common use.

S. Manickam, one of the petitioners, said that there were about 1.2 acres of land in the village meant for common use. "In the last few years, we have given numerous petitions to revenue officials to use the space for building a panchayat office, library or community gal. Recently, a former councillor took possession of the land and fenced it," he said.

He said that they were not allowed to enter the land and threatened by the encroahers.

"We heard that the encroachers are going to obtain 'patta' documents for the land and have asked the Village Administrative Officer for the same. Despite complaining about this to the VAO and revenue officials there, no action has been taken," Mr. Manickam said.

In the petition signed by over 100 villagers, they requested the district administration to intervene and build a common use facility on the land to ensure that it was not encroached upon in the future.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Biliyaada Gram Panchayat & 2 Vs The Petitioners on 21 July, 2015 C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER

Gujarat High Court


WRIT PETITION (PIL) NO. 140 of 2015
B I L I Y A A D A G R A M P A N C H A Y A T & 2 . . . . A p p l i c a n t ( s ) V e r s u s
S T A T E O F G U J A R A T & 2 . . . . O p p o n e n t ( s )
========================================================== Appearance:
M R S H A K T I S J A D E J A , A D V O C A T E f o r t h e A p p l i c a n t ( s ) N o . 1 −
M R S P M A J M U D A R , A D V O C A T E f o r t h e A p p l i c a n t ( s ) N o . 1 − 3
M R R A K E S H P A T E L , A G P f o r t h e O p p o n e n t ( s ) N o . 1
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = 

C O R A M : H O N O U R A B L E M R . J U S T I C E J A Y A N T P A T E L a n d

1. The petitioners, by this petition, are invoking the jurisdiction of this Court as public interest litigation for seeking appropriate writ to quash and set aside the order (Annexure−M) passed in May 2015 by the District Collector and it is prayed by the petitioners that respondent authority be directed to reassign the land as Gauchar land.

2. We have heard Mr. Majmudar, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners.
3 . The only contention raised by the learned counsel for the petitioners is that the land has not been allotted by public auction and it was also submitted that in village area, there is C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER requirement for Gauchar land (land reserved for grazing of stray cattle) and therefore, the land should have been marked for Gauchar land instead of allotting the same to the respondent no.3 trust for educational purpose.

4. It is an admitted position that on the date when the land was allotted by the impugned decision of the Collector, the land was not reserved as Gauchar land, but was as waste land of the Government. It is true that initially, the land was reserved as Gauchar land, but subsequently, the land was resumed by the Government  and it was allotted for industrial purpose of stone crushing to the private person. As the said person committed breach of the condition of allotment, the land was again resumed back and it remained as waste land.

5 . Mr. Majundar, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners contended that as the land was used as Gauchar land and never used for stone crushing activity, it could be termed as Gauchar land.

6. We are afrad of such contention can be accepted after resumption of the land by the Government. The land remained as waste land of the Government and thereafter, it was never marked as Gauchar land. Further, even one of the prayer of the petitioners is that the land be marked as Gauchar land. That itself would show that the land was not marked as Gauchar land. The record shows C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER that the land was a waste land of the Government.

7. Section 62 of the Bombay Land Revenue Code reads as under:

" 6 2 . Unoccupied land and may be granted on conditions:-  It shall be lawful for the Collector subject to such rules as may from time to time be made by the State Government in this behalf, to require the payment of a price for unaliented land or tos ell the same by auction and to annex such conditions to the grant as he may deem fit, before permission to occupy is given under section 60 . The price (if any) paid for such land shall the price of the Government right to all trees not specially reserved under the provisions of section 40 and shall be recoverable as an arrear of land revenue.”

8. The aforesaid shows that there is inbuilt power with the Collector or the State Government, as the case may be, to allot unalienated land or to sell the same by auction. In the present case, there is no sale of the land, but the allotment of the land is for educational purpose in a remote area of village for establishing school and the incidental activities of the school. Further, the price as decided by the valuation committee has been recovered as per the policy of the Government, i.e., 50% of the market value. The amount of about more than Rs.80 Lakhs has already been paid by the educational trust and thereafter, the land has been allotted. If the section is considered as it is, it is not sine qua non that in allotment of any unoccupied land, C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER the Government cannot allot unless public auction is held. In our view such would essentially depend upon the policy of the Government. If the policy provides that for educational purpose the land can be allotted without auction, such policy per se cannot be said to be arbitrary or violative of Article 14. No material whatsoever has come on record that any similarly situated educational trust was desirous to establish the school in the said remote area of the village and it has been deprived of or had at any time applied to the Government for allotment of the land.

9. At this stage, we may refer to the decision of this Court in the case of Patel Parshottamdas Chaturbhai and Ors. Vs. Harijan Shakarbhai Lakhabhai & Ors. Reported at 1978 GLR 341, wherein the land was allotted by the Government without holding auction to the backward class cultivators and the contention was raised that it should not have been allotted without holding public auction. The learned Single Judge of this Court (Coram : M.P. Thakkar, J.), after considering section 62 of the Code, observed at paragraph 5 as under:      
" 5 . Now , there is nothing in Section 62 of the Code or any other provisions of the Code which requires that the grant of Govt, waste land can be made only as provided by Section 62. Section 62 is only one of the modes in which a grant can be made. It does not exhaust the powers of Government to make C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER grant otherwise than Section 62 merely provides that the Collector may require payment of price for unaliented land or to sell the same by auction and to annex such conditions to the grant as he may deem fit. It is, therefore, not obligatory that the land should be sold by auction. It can be granted provided it does not infringe any provision of law and does not violate any status or provisions.

Therefore even if it were to be assumed for the sake of argument that Section 62 is the only provision under which a grant can be made, the grant in favour of respondent no. 1 cannot be invalidated merely because instead of selling it by auction, it has been granted to respondent No. 1 in pursuance of the policy decision contained in the Government Resolution dated March 1,1960."

10. However, Mr. Majmudar, learned counsel appearing for the petitioners made an attempt to rely upon the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta Congress v. State of Madhya Pradesh reported at AIR 2011 SC 1834 and contended that as held by the Apex Court, in the said decision, even for specified purposes as per the policy of the Government, the normal mode of holding auction should be followed. He submitted that therefore, the action for allotment of the land would not meet with the test of Article 14 of Constitution.

11.We may record that in the decision of the Apex Court in the case of Akhil Bhartiya Upbhokta Congress (supra) , the facts were so glaring that the land was for memorial of a particular person C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER and further the apex Court had also recorded that everything was done for political purpose. Such is not the fact situation in the present case nor there is any allegation in the petition. At paragraph 33, in the very decision, the Apex Court did observed as under:

"33.This, however, does not mean that the State can never allot land to the institutions/organisations engaged in educational, cultural, social or philanthropic activities or are rendering service to the Society except by way of auction.."
12. In absence of any malafide alleged or any allegation of extraneous consideration, if the land is allotted by the Government to an educational institution, that too at the
market price, such decision cannot be said to be arbitrary.

13.The village panchayat is the main body who is one of the petitioners and it is true that some residents of the village are joined. The essential purpose is to make the land available for the cattle of the residents and not for any class of the person who cannot approach before the Court for ventilating the grievance. It is hardly required to be stated that the engagement in the business of animal husbandry cannot be co− linked with the land to be used for grazing purposes of the stray cattle who would not be looked further by anybody. In any case, the land C/WPPIL/140/2015 ORDER is not allotted for any private purpose or with any extraneous consideration, more particularly, when no allegation is made nor any material is produced for such purpose. If the land simplicitor is allotted for educational purpose to a charitable trust who is to render the educational activity without any discrimination of caste or religion that too in a remote area of the village, such action cannot be said as illegal just on a mere ground that a public auction was not held.

14. Under the circumstances, we do not find that any interference is called for either for the individual interest of the gram panchayat much less any public interest as sought to be canvassed.

15. Under the circumstances, the petition is dismissed.

Monday, October 19, 2015

NGO objects to Regularisation of unauthorised Structures & Encroachment Bill

Panaji| Saturday Oct 3, 2015 IST

The United Goan Foundation, an NGO, today claimed that Goa government is planning to boring Regularisation of Unauthorised Structures and Encroachment Bill which, if passed, will  supersede many other Acts.

Addressing a news conference here, Foundation secretary Avinash Tavares said the act titled Regularisation of Unauthorised Structures and Encroachment Bill 2015 would supersede Land Revenue Code, the Code of Communidades, the Town and Country Planning Act of 1974, the Municipalities Act and the Goa Panchayati Raj Act.

He said, "According to draft copy of the bill any structures which are constructed without any due permission on land belonging to Communidade, government on land reserved as open space and on land belonging to other individual either with or without consent shall be considered. This includes even those illegal structures which are built on land belonging to Forest Department including Wildlife Sanctuaries, eco-sensitive Coastal Regulation Zone areas, road widening or setback areas and even designated or notified No Development Zones on case to case basis.

"Clause 15 of the bill says the proposed legislation would have overriding powers not withstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, inlcuding TCP, Regional Plan, Panchayat Raj Act, Municipality Act and Land Revenue Code," he said and pointed the act would allow regularisation on payment of penalty and rent for the number of years encroached but nowhere had the provision been made for payment to be made to the land looser, the original owner of the land.

He started that Supreme Court has passed a judgement in 2011 against illegal encroachment on Commons (Communidade land) and Public land, wherein it stated that "Regularising such illegalities must not be permitted because it (Common and public land) is Gram Sabha land which must be kept for the common use of village... We cannot allow the common interests of the villagers to suffer merely because the authorised occupation has subsisted for many years."

Stating that UGF would not allow any act to be passed by the government which would destroy identity and environment of Goa, if the bill was introduced in the Assembly, the UGF would approach courts against the government and would also agitate on the streets against the law, he added. UNI AKM SS SB PR2100.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Special Civil Application No. ... vs Bidada Gram Panchayat & 3 on 19 March, 2015

         C/SCA/11064/2014                               ORDER

            SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 11064 of 2014
             SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 4825 of 2015
             SPECIAL CIVIL APPLICATION NO. 4871 of 2015
               DHARAMSHI MEGHJI SAVLA....Petitioner(s)
            BIDADA GRAM PANCHAYAT & 3....Respondent(s)
SCA No.4825/2015,
for the Petitioner(s) No. 1
DS AFF.NOT FILED (N) for the Respondent(s) No. 4
MR HS MUNSHAW, ADVOCATE for the Respondent(s) No. 1 - 3


                              Date : 19/03/2015

                            COMMON ORAL ORDER
1. So far as Special Civil Application No.4825 of 2015 and Special Civil Application No.4871 of 2015 are concerned, request for permission for urgent circulation of the said two petitions was made on the ground that the respondent authorities have, on strength of the order datedC/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER 11.3.2015 in Special Civil Application No.11064 of 2014, started demolishing the construction/houses of the petitioners which, according to the respondents, are constructed by way of encroachment over gaucher land. It was claimed that many persons have not encroached over gaucher land, however, even such constructions are being demolished and since the process of demolishing is in progress, permission for urgent circulation may be granted.
2. Having regard to the said submission, request for circulation of the petitions was granted and accordingly, the petitions are placed before the Court for appropriate orders.
3. In respect of Special Civil Application No.4825 of 2015, Mr. Mehta, learned senior counsel has appeared with Mr. Vyas, learned advocate for the petitioner and Mr. Singh has appeared for the petitioners in Special Civil C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER Application No.4871 of 2015.
4. Mr. Munshaw, learned advocate has appeared for the respondents in Speical Civil Application No.11064 of 2014. He submitted that copies of the said two petitions, i.e. Special Civil Application Nos.4825/2015 and 4871/2015 are not provided to him.
5. Learned advocates for the petitioners would provide copies of the said petitions to Mr. Munshaw, learned advocate for the respondents.
6. The order dated 11.3.2015 is passed in Special Civil Application No.11064 of 2014. In the said petition, the petitioner has prayed, inter alia, that:
"8(a) A writ of mandamus or any other appropriate writ, order of direction may kindly be issued directing the Respondents to forthwith decide and to act the matter of the applications and notices at Annexures 'A', 'C', 'D', 'E' and 'H' herein, as prayed for, and to remove the C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER encroachments and unauthorised constructions over the land of Respondent No.1 - Panchayat and also nearby the property in question of the Petitioner without any delay."
7. In the said petition, the respondent authority has filed affidavit dated 13.2.2015. In the said affidavit, the respondent authority has averred that:
"3. The Deponent submits that thereafter as per the record several notices were issued from time to time to other encroachers between 1998 to 2013. The deponent submits that she is elected as Sarpanch of Bidada Gram Panchayat on 16/01/2012 and has issued notices to number of encroachers on 08/02/2013 and 11/05/2013. It is stated that as on today there are 260 encroachments on gaucher land while 407 encroachments on gamthal land. It is submitted that Gram Panchayat passed a Resolution No.34 in its meeting dated 01/12/2014 firstly for removal of encroachments on Ring Road and it is resolved that firstly notices are to be issued to those encroachers who are on surrounding Ring Road and thereafter rest of the encroachers. It is stated that accordingly in all 101 encroachers are issued notices on 30/01/2015. The deponent submits that some of the encroachers have responded to the said notice so far.
C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER
5. The deponent submits that thereafter further actions would be taken for removal of rest of the encroachments. It is stated that considering huge number of encroachments, some more time would be required to clear the encroachments raised on gaucher land as well as gamthal land. At this stage, the deponent craves leave to state that there is a Complex known as Dharamsinh Complex on Hajipir Road and consists in all 7 shops. The deponent craves leave to add that all the 7 occupants were issued notices on 30/01/2015. In response to the said notices, it is separately replied by them that there are shops and complex actually belonging to Mr. Dharamsinh Meghji Savla and they are the tenants. The deponent apprehends that the said shopping complex is constructed on public property perhaps by the present petitioner himself. It is pertinent to note that the petitioner herein had in past addressed a letter dated 02/12/2013 to the respondent No.1 complaining of encroachment and pollution opposite to the said Dharamsinh Complex. The Deponent submits that in view of the registration of 7 shops of Dharamsinh Complex in encroachment register of Village Bidada at No.800 to 806 and replies to notices tendered by said 7 occupants of the shops of Dharamsinh Complex, the deponent herein has to make further inquiry about the owner of superstructure and method & manner of encroachments on public property."
8. It was in light of the assertions made in C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER paragraph No.3 of the said affidavit dated 13.2.2015 in Special Civil Application No.11064 of 2014 that the said order dated 11.3.2015 came to be passed.
9. In the said affidavit, the respondent has expressly mentioned that 'it is stated that as on today there are 260 encroachments on gaucher land while 407 encroachments on gamthal land'.
10. The said assertions give out that about 260 persons have encroached over gaucher land.
11. Having regard to the said assertions in the reply affidavit, which is not disputed/denied, the Court passed order dated 11.3.2015 so as to ensure that the encroachments over the gaucher land are removed without any delay.
12. When the authorities started action in view of the order, these petitions are taken out andC/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER it is alleged that the respondents have started the actions of demolition without issuing notices and without ascertaining as to whether all constructions which are being demolished are over gaucher lands or over the lands which are not put up on gaucher lands. It is also claimed that in cases of several petitioners, the lands have been alloted by the panchayat itself.
13. The panchayat should not and cannot allot gaucher land to anyone. Even if gaucher land is, as alleged by the petitioners, alloted by the panchayat, such allotment would be illegal and unauthorised. Encroachments over gaucher land ought to be removed.
14. From the affidavit made by the respondents in Special Civil Application No.11064 of 2014, the Court has noticed that according to the respondents, the notices were issued, however, the concerned persons did not take note of the C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER said notices and continued their occupation over the gaucher land.
15. Since today the grievance is made that in the process of demolishing even those constructions who are not over gaucher land but are on land other than gaucher land and in most of such cases, the lands are allotted by the panchayat, following order is passed in furtherance of the said order dated 11.3.2015.
16. The respondent panchayat will display the list of 260 persons who have encroached upon gaucher land at the Office of the Panchayat on 20.3.2015.
17. The panchayat will also display another / separate list of 407 encroachers, who, according to the panchayat, have encroached over gamthal land.
        C/SCA/11064/2014                                         ORDER
 18. The said list may also be displayed at
Panchayat's Office as well as at the respective survey numbers tomorrow, i.e. on 20.3.2015.
19. The list will also contain Notice/Intimation to the concerned persons to take note of the fact that according to the panchayat, the construction put up by them are over gaucher land and that they have encroached over gaucher land and similar process shall be followed for gamthal land. The survey numbers of the said lands may also be mentioned and intimation to remove the encroachment should be mentioned in such intimation with further clarification that in event of failure to remove the encroachment, the panchayat will take action.
20. So far as the persons who, according to the respondent panchayat, have encroached over the land other than gaucher land, in their cases, the actions may be taken in phased manner afterC/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER verification of the claim regarding allotment of land by the panchayat and after the action in respect of gaucher land is completed and after appropriate intimation to such persons (i.e. persons have encroached over land other than gaucher land) may be given with intimation about time before which the encroachment should be removed and the time after which the respondent authorities will initiate action for removing encroachment over the gaucher land.
21. So far as the encroachment over gaucher land is concerned, as mentioned earlier, the time for removing encroachment over gaucher land, as aforesaid, is extended until 25.3.2015 so that aforesaid process can be completed and the concerned persons can get time/opportunity to remove the construction and/or their belongings and that, therefore, the respondent panchayat will, as aforesaid, display the list of the said persons with necessary intimation as mentionedC/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER above at the office of the respondent panchayat as well as at the respective survey numbers.
22. After displaying the said notice, further action for removing the encroachment over gaucher land may be undertaken.
23. It is further clarified that it will be open to the concerned persons to approach the respondent authority, within one week with necessary material to demonstrate that they have not encroached over gaucher land and to demonstrate that the land in question is not gaucher land and it was allotted by the panchayat. Further action to be taken after such verification. However, action in respect of gaucher land may proceed after following the process of declaring the names of the persons and survey numbers. The panchayat will verify and ensure that the lands are, as per the record, gaucher land.
C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER
24. It is further clarified that the petitioner in Special Civil Application No.11064 of 2014 is concerned, Mr. Shah, learned advocate for the petitioner submitted that premises of the petitioner is demolished, however, according to the petitioner, the said construction was not on gaucher land or gamthal land.
25. Mr. Shah, learned advocate for the petitioner further submitted that since the construction was not an encroachment on gaucher land or gamthal land, now status quo as regards the land in question, may be maintained.
26. In that view of the matter, it is clarified that the respondent shall maintain status quo as regards the land in question over which the petitioner had put up the construction, i.e. alleged encroachment.
C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER
27. Today, learned advocates for the petitioners in above-mentioned petitions and the applicants in Civil Application No.3488 of 2015, submitted that several persons, who have been allotted land by panchayat and are not in occupation of gaucher land, are also affected by the demolition drive undertaken by the respondents and that there are several persons who have not encroached over gaucher land, however, action in respect of their constructions are also being taken.
28. Mr. Munshaw, learned advocate for the respondents submitted that the respondents are taking action in respect of gaucher land.
29. For the said purpose, time to take action in respect of gaucher land is extended for further two days, i.e. till 25.3.2015.
30. The petitions to be listed on 27.3.2015.
C/SCA/11064/2014 ORDER
31. The respondent panchayat will take action in respect of the gamthal land in phased manner and after removing of encroachment over gaucher land.
Direct Service is permitted today.

(K.M.THAKER, J.) Bharat

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Dept marks area for reserve forest, people unhappy

TNN| Aug 22, 01.46 AM IST

MADURAI: Villagers from Kottampatti union under Pallapati Union Panchayat complained that the forest department has marked the land, which they are using for cattle grazing.

They said the department marked 350 acres of land adjunct to Kottampatti under reserve forest.

The issue was raised during farmer's grievance meeting on Friday. District collector, L Subramanian was present at the meeting.

Around 2000 families live in Pudupatti, Kumarapatti and Pallapatti, Vellamalai patti and Sellambu Konpatti villages that fall under Kottampatti Union.

Since British era, the main livelihood of the villagers is taking care of cattle grazing.

The 350 acres of hilly areas in Kallapuru Kottu, Mamalai and Senganamalai are used by the villagers for cattle grazing. Already, the villagers raised the issue in July grievance meeting however, no action was taken.

The forest department planned to include the 350 acres of land of the union under the reserve forest. P Perialzabagan, villager from Sellambu Konpatti said, "The forest department  officials asked us to vacate the area as soon as possible."

The forest department officials assured that an enquiry will be conducted within their department. While the collector, strictly asked the Melur Taluk Tehsildar to inspect the hilly areas the grazing is conducted. "An inspection will be conducted by the concerned officials and a survey will be conducted in the areas," he said.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Local bodies seek database on land

July 11, 2015

Owing to a rise in encroachments of ponds, irrigation tanks and panchayat properties on the outskirts of Chennai and other rapidly urbansing areas, representatives of panchayats have demanded a comprehensive database for all such lands.

Representatives of panchayats and other stakehoders on Friday demanded changes in public policy at a seminar on "Encroachment and eviction in panchayat vested porombokes".

In a bid to control encroachments of such lands, representatives stressed the need for entry of poromboke lands in the Register of Assets maintained by the panchayat, audited every month by Local Fund and other auditors.

"Public property shall not be alienated by way of transferring or converting it for other purposes except according to a laid down procedure prescribed by law," said K. Vallinayagam, who presented a research paper on the subject.

Representatives demanded the State government prepare a scheme for eviction based on the direction of the Supreme Court.

Pointing to Section 252 of the Kerala Panchayat Act that casts a duty on police officers to help the panchayats, the representatives wanted a similar section in the Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act 1994.

According to Tamil Nadu Panchayat Act 1994, unreserved forests, public roads other than State highways and pathways, communal property, minor irrigation works, grazing grounds, burial grounds, cattle stands, cart stands and porombokes in ex-zamin areas are entrusted to the panchayats.

According to the data compiled by the Rural Development Department, the State has 21,609 tanks amd 48,759 ponds.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Lake in Patancheru parcelled into 182 plots!

Prabeerkumar Sikdar, TNN| July 2, 2015

HYDERABAD: If you think lakes in the city would be full to the brim this monsoon after the desiltation work carried out under Mission Kakatiya, think again - especially in the case of water bodies under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) limits.

Take for instance, the fate of the 17 acre Shetti Kunta Lake in Ameeenpur gram Panchayat (survey no.947) in Patancheru mandal of Medak district. Instead of a scenic water body, what we have is a concrete jungle. The lake bed has almost completely disappeared, thanks to the housing layout permission for 182 plots given by the panchayat authorities in violation of all norms.

The information was unearthed by an NGO, Human Rights & Consumer Protection Cell (HRCPC) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. To their query, the panchayat secretary admitted in his reply dated June 24 (a copy of which is with TOI) that they had issued permission to take up construction activity on the lake bed.

"What is the use of the HMDA's lake Protection Committee (LPC) identifying 2,857 lakes, including 176 under the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) limits for conservation, when inordinate delay in demarcation of Full Tank Levels (FTLs) is leading to illegal construction and encroachment on lake beds?" questioned HRCPC president Thakur Rajkumar.

Singh alleged that construction activity is in full swing on the Shetti Kunta lake bed, with not a single official from the revenue or irrigation departments or HMDA bothering to prevent the encroachments.

In fact, HMDA officials admitted that they could not complete FTL demarcation of all lakes despite it being more than our years since the high court forced the government to constitute an LPC na judgement in October 2010. "We could complete FTL demarcation of only 438 lakes (out of 2,857 lakes under HMDA limits). The delay is on the part of irrigation authorities as they are holding up the approval process. A list of 1,305 lakes with FTL markings has been pending approval in the irrigation department offices in Hyderabad, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nalgonda and Mahbubnagar for the last one year," said a senior HMDA official.

The official alleged that HMDA has forwarded a list of 25 lakes to the irrigation department in Medak for approving their FTL demarcation, but is yet to hear from them even after one year. Not surprisingly, the FTL approval for Shetti Kunta Lake too figures in that list. "We cannot upload the FTL details on the HMDA site unless the irrigation authorities clear them," the official said.4

Meanwhile, when contacted, Som Narayana, the panchayat executive officer of Ameenpur, told TOI that they have issued layout permission for 182 plots in only 13 acres with a rider included in the House Conversion Permission that in case it is found that it violates any government order, the permission would stand cancelled.

"We know that there was a lake, but it was nowhere mentioned in any government record that it was lake bed (Shikam land). Hence, we gave away the permission, "Som Narayan said, adding that construction of 60-70 houses is currently underway while in the case of another 100 plots, the foundations are being laid.

Monday, June 29, 2015

CM orders Vigilance probe

Pradeep Sharma
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 26

The alleged payment of over Rs300 cr as compensation to certain individuals for shamlat land in Panchkula district acquired by the Haryana Urban Estates Department for HUDA has come under the vigilance scanner.

Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar today ordered a vigilance inquiry to investigate the irregularities committed in the disbursement of compensation for shamlat land (common land) of various villages from 1998 to 2013. The vigilance inquiry would establish whether the shareholders of shamilat land were entitled to compensation or not, official sources said.

The Chief Minister's Office (CMO) seems to have acted on a report sent by Sanjeev Verma, Zonal Administration, Haryana Urban Development Authority-cum-Additional Director, Urban Estate (ADUE), Panchkula, who reported that the payment of compensation in respect of shamilat land have been made to individuals without any order from the Collector (Deputy Commissioner) under the Village Common Land Act from 1998 to 2013. The villages in question included Nada, Maheshpur, Chowki, Saketri, Rampur Siyudi, Rajjipur, Surajpur, Manakpur, Nanakchand, Manakpur Thakurdas, Lohgarh, Dhamala, Firojpur, Rattpur, Islamnagar, Bhagwanpur and Nangal Sodian.

The total acquired shamilat land failing in these 18 villages works out to 375.88 acre and the compensation thereof amounts to Rs373.15 crore. A compensation of Rs57.74 crore is yet to be disbursed.

As per the report, there is violation of the provision contained in Section 13-A of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, as the District Collector, who is competent to adjudicate the claim in a suit filed before him pertaining to right, title or interest in any land or other immovable property vested or deemed to have been invested in Panchayat under this Act.

As per Rule 71 of the Punjab Land Revenue Rules "List of co-shares shall not be prepared and supplied without the previous sanction of the Collector unless required in connection with a revenue civil or criminal case."

The ADUE said in his report that compensation and enhanced compensation had wrongly been paid to the individual shareholders without any order from the Collector under the Village Common Land Act. As per many judgements passed by the High Court and Supreme Court wherein it has been held that shamlat land vests in gram sabha/gram panchayat, the compensation or enhanced compensation should have gone to the respective gram panchayat or Municipal Corporation, Panchkula, or the matter should have been referred to concerned courts.

Verma stumbled on the alleged scam when he was reportedly going through 80 pending applications for the allotment of plots under the oustees' policy against shamlat land. Vivek Atray, Panchkula DC, later ordered an inquiry into the matter.

Public lands, private gains

  • Individuals allegedly pocketed compensation money for acquired shamlat land
  • The total acquired shamlat land in 18 villages is 375.88 acres
  • The total compensation amount Rs.373.15 crore; Rs.57.74 crore yet to be disbursed.
  • Payment of compensation for shamlat land allegedly made to the individuals without any order from the Collector under the Village Common Land Act from 1998 to 2013.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Gauchar development scheme in 100 Gujarat villages as pilot project

June 02, 2015

The Gujarat Government has launched the Gauchar Vikas Yojna (Pastoral Land Development Scheme) as pilot project in the 100 villages of the state. On the basis of the experience in these 100 villages, the scheme will be replicated throughout the state.

The Gujarat Government has formed Gaucher Vikas Fund by which the scheme will be funded.

Under the scheme, Panchayat, Rural Housing and the Rural Development department will carry out activities like removal of encroachments on the gauchar land, wire fencing, land levelling, soil improvement, micro irrigation, removal of non-useful tress, plantation of grass, facility for grass storage and sale, use of canal and irrigation water etc.

While selecting 100 village Panchayats for the pilot projects Samras Panchayats have been given preference. The State Government has allocated Rs.100 crore for the first phase.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Is there a constructive way to protect cleared government lands?


 Kolar administration finds a solution by planting saplings on on Kodikannur tank bed

Is there a meaningful and constructive way to protect cleared government lands and ensure their better utilisation?

These questions to be haunting the authorities following the eviction of persons from encroached government lands and tank beds in Bengaluru and elsewhere in the State.

 The Kolar district administration has presented a model in this direction.

The district administration has harped on a novel plan to raise plantations on tank beds which have been cleared of encroachments.

Planting of saplings on previously encroached land on Kodikannur tank bed near the town is now making news.

Deputy Commissioner K.V. Thrilokchandra launched the programme on Friday along with other officials including zilla panchayat Chief Executive Officer N.M. Panali and Superintendent of Police Ajay Hilori.

Prevention of re-encroachment of cleared land, saving it as public asset permanently and turning it in to an eco-friendly zone is the objective of the planting drive,

Mr. Thrilokchandra has said. Honge has been selected considering its multi-pronged utility. The plant will help increase the nitrogen content of soil and will provide green-leaf manure, as well as providing shade.

As many as 500 honge saplings will be planted on the two-hectare land on Kodikannur tank bed.

Warning Mr. Thrilokchandra has warned that a three-year jail term and Rs. 25,000 fine would be slapped under the Land Grabbing Prevention Act if the land was encroached upon again. Criminal cases will also be registered against encroachers, he added.

Raising plantation on evicted tank land
500 honge saplings to be planted on two hectares
1,539 acres recovered from encroachers

Allocate land to Grama Panchayats: DC

Madikeri: May 13, 2015: Deputy Commissioner Anurag Tewari has directed the Tahsildars and Revenue Inspectors to take steps to allocate cleared government lands, as per the requirements of various Grama Panchayats. Chairing a review meeting on land allocation at the Old Fort Hall, here, on Tuesday, the DC directed the officials concerned to allocate lands for residential sites, waste management units, crematorium, community toilets and other amenities. Directions were issued for clearing of encroached lands, as per the directions of the High Court. Though the work of clearing encroached lands is satisfactory, the percentage wise progress is low is several places, the DC said and warned of stern action against revenue inspectors who have not achieved progress. The DC warned of issuing a show cause notice to a revenue inspector after learning that only 40 acres was vacated out of thousands of acres of encroachment in Kushalnagar hobli. Zilla Panchayat CEO M Koorma Rao said, lands are essential to carry out development works in Grama Panchayat limits. A meet of revenue officials and PDOs has been convened in this regard. The housing schemes are not seeing expected progress, owing to dearth of sites. The PDOs should work towards providing minimum sites for basic amenities such as community toilets and crematoriums, he said. Additional Deputy Commissioner M Sathish Kumar said, the demands by various Panchayats should be placed before Grama Sabhas and should be sent to the Taluk Panchayat Executive Officers, after availing sanctions. The EOs, in turn, should submit the list of demands to Tahsildars.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Want to buy a hill or lake? Come to Faridabad, Gurgaon

Dipak K Dash, TNN | Apr 17, 2015
Gurgaon, Haryana

Successive governments have maintained a blind eye towards illegal mining that is going on unabated in hills adjoining Gurgaon and Faridabad.

NEW DELHI: It may sound bizarre, but you can actually own a dense forest, a lake such as Damdama or Dhauj, a hill top or a drain in the Aravalis of Haryana. Even a part of Mangar Bani, the largest surviving sacred grove in the NCR. That's because a major portion of this ecological hotspot, which was once common land, has been privatized in the past 30-35 years.

Former revenue officials told TOI that lured by real estate players, several gram sabhas were allowed to convert common land, including forested hills and water bodies, into private properties. Legal loopholes in the Punjab Village Common Lands Act of 1961 were used to facilitate these transfers.

Private players guided and drove the process, attracted by the prospect of picking up huge patches of land next to Delhi for a pittance. Once the undivided common lands were privatized and sold, these were then partitioned into plots etc by a misuse of the Consolidation Act.

These transfers were not good in law and can be challenged, the officials added.

"Uncultivable tracts outside habitable areas were traditionally kept as panchayat land, meant for common use such as grazing. Later, the gram sabhas passed resolutions to convert them into another form of collective property called shamlat deh, giving villagers the right to sell these lands to individuals," said a retired revenue official, who was posted in Gurgaon and Faridabad when private developers were making inroads into the area.

Retired IAS officials, who were posted in these districts in the past two decades, said private developers and land sharks first approached the gram sabhas to move such a resolution.

"After the resolution was passed, there would be no objection from the local level administrative officer including block development officer and even the district collector. So, subsequently, villagers got ownership over the undivided land, which they later sold to private players. In many cases the entire process was funded by private parties," said a formal official.

State government officials said the local revenue officials played a key role in this entire exercise. After villagers got the right to sell their share of the common land, revenue officials even recorded different khasras in their names. "Then they sold these parcels to private players. But the biggest problem for the present land owners is to get possession of the land to start their projects," said a serving official, who did not wish to be named.

However, a few retired revenue officials who served in the area felt that all such privatization and fragmentation of land were illegal since land laws stipulate that common land cannot be used for any other purpose.

They added that even the Supreme Court has held that all panchayat lands must be returned to the gram sabha and cannot be used for any other purpose. Several rulings, including the Jagpal Singh judgment of January 2012, have made this clear.

Villages with non-agricultural privatized common lands include Mangar, Kot, Mewla, Maharajpur and others in Faridabad, and Raisena and Roj ka Gujjar in Gurgaon. In a few villages such as Bandhwari and Ghata in Gurgaon, privatized common lands have been returned to panchayat/government ownership.

Real estate firms have built up large land banks in these areas. There are reportedly name and benami holdings of real estate companies.

A first: UT comes out with data on panchayat land

Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, April 26

Now, it will not be easy to encroach upon panchayat land in the UT villages.

In a first of its kind initiative, the Chandigarh Administration has consolidated the data on total panchayat land and its existing land use at the site. Officials on conducting a detailed field survey of the panchayat land measuring around 560 kanals found that 33 kanals of land was under encroachments and spread across nine villages.

Following the survey of all specific land details, the UT had started the process of getting land freed from encroachments, said Danish Ashraf, Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), East, who along with two trainee IAS officers, Parth Gupta and Kriti Garg, have carried out the detailed exercise.

Efforts are being made to digitally scan the revenue record to check if the Rural Department is keeping an eye on the encroachments being made. In the past, during demolition drives it was found that the panchayat land and other vacant land of different governnmemt departments were encroached upon in nine villages — Dhanas, Khuda Lahora, Khuda Jassu, Khuda Alisher, Kaimbwala, Behlana, Daria, and Maulai Jagran.

The total land under use such as government buildings, area under ponds, religious places, cremation ground and roads has also been given in the details. The Khuda Jassu and Khuda Lahora have the largest chunk of panchayat land, measuring 150 kanals and 130 kanals, respectively.

Following a presentation of the consolidation report to the UT Adviser, the officials have been asked to also come out with booklet on the information and work further on the subject so that the information remains in the public domain.

Already faced with meagre resources, gram panchayats of different villages in the UT had been in the past finding it difficult to free their prime land from encroachers. Running in several crores, the panchayats can generate their own resources by leasing out the land for commercial activity.

Sources in the Chandigarh Administration said that a number of encroachments were inside the ‘lal dora’ of respective village.

Few years ago, a study conducted by the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) had revealed that prime chunks of land were under encroachments.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Bill on land ownership tabled

Tribune News Service
Shimla, April 2

Health and Revenue Minister Kaul Singh Thakur presented the Himachal Pradesh Village Common Lands Vesting and Utilisation (Amendment) Bill 2015 in the Assembly today which would provide the ownership of land to those who had been in its possession for the last four decades. 

About the Bill

  •      The HP Village Common Lands Vesting and Utilisation (Amendment) Bill 2015 will provide the ownership of land to those who have been possessing it for the past four decades

      The government had received several representations from these lessees "Chakotadhars" and and amendment to the Himachal Pradesh Village Common Lands Vesting and Utilisation Act, 1974, was necessary to provide ownership of land to these people. They had been given land by Gram Panchayats as per the Punjab Village Common Land Regulation Act, 1961.
     The number of such lessees in 981 in Kangra, 184 in Kangra and 36 each in Una and Hamipur districts. These persons had sought ownership of land on which they had their houses, cowsheds, farms and orchards.

     A Bill to amend the Shimla Road Users and Pedestrians (Public Safety and Convenience) Act, 2007 was also tabled in the Assembly by the Chief Minister. This amendment would empower Assistant Sub-Inspectors for checking vehicles and compounding of offences on sealed and restricted roads. Earlier, the powers were given only to Executive Magistrate or police officer not below the rank of Sub-Inspector and the amendment is being made in view of shortage of police officers and increasing number of vehicles.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

In the Court of Judicature for Rajasthan


Bhanwaroo Khan & Ors. vs. State of Rajasthan & Ors.

DATE OF ORDER :                             19th February, 2013


Mr. Sandeep Shah, for petitioners.

Heard learned counsel for the petitioners.

2. The petitioners have preferred this public interest litigation for removal of illegal encroachments from land bearing Khasra No.189 situated in Village Kalusar, Tehsil Sardarsahar, District Churu, which is 'Gair Mumkin Paitan'.

 3. Submission of learned counsel for petitioners is that land in dispute bearing Khasra No.189 is described as 'Gair Mumkin Paitan' in Jambandi for S.Yr.2062, the respondent Nos.5 to 8 have encroached on the said government land. He submitted that every year an action is taken against respondents and even their articles are ceased, but still they have not been removed so far by District Administration. He further submitted that the Hon'ble Apex Court in Jagpal Singh vs. Punjab State, Civil Appeal No.1132/2011 decided on 28th January, 2011 has held that there cannot be any allotment and regularization of land falling in catchment of a bond/water reservoirs. He also referred the Circular dated 25th April, 2011 (Annex.12) issued 2 D.B. CIVIL WRIT PETITION (PIL) No.660/2013 by State Government on the basis of judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court. He also submitted that petitioners have made number of representations to all the concerned authorities including SDO and Collector and also to Hon'ble The Chief Minister, but no action has been taken against respondent Nos. 5 to 8 in this regard.

4. We have considered the submissions of learned counsel for the petitioners.

5. From Revenue Record i.e. Jamabandi placed on record as Annexure-11, it is clear that land bearing Khasra No.189 in Village Kalusar is 'Gair Mumkin Paitan' and as per the judgment of Hon'ble Apex Court, it cannot be allotted and regularized in favour of anyone. We further find that petitioners have represented the District Administration, but no action has been taken so far.

6. In these circumstances, we are of the view that petitioners should approach the District Collector, Churu again along with order of this Court and Collector, Churu be directed to examine and decide the representation of the petitioners, in accordance with law and in case, any persons are found in illegal encroachment over the land in dispute, then to take immediate action for their removal.

7. Consequently, we dispose of this writ petition with liberty to petitioners to move fresh representation in this regard. It is directed that in case, the petitioners move a representation within a period of fifteen days from today along with copy of this order, then District Collector, Churu is directed to examine and decide the same within a period of 3 D.B. CIVIL WRIT PETITION (PIL) No.660/2013 one month thereafter and in case, a finding is recorded that there is encroachment over the land in dispute, then to take immediate action for removal of encroachments over land in dispute, in accordance with law.

8. The stay application No.536/2013 also stands disposed of.

(V. K. MATHUR),J.                                                                                                           


Sanjay, JrPA 

All corrections made in the judgment/order have been incorporated in the judgment/order being emailed.”
Sanjay Solanki