Monday, February 27, 2017

Panchayat Land Encrochment: HC stays proceedings of panchayat land grab cases in Mohali, Rupnagar

The directions came during the resumed hearing of a bunch of petitions alleging encroachment on panchayat land in Mohali.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published:February 8, 2017 4:02 am

THE PUNJAB and Haryana High Court on Tuesday put a stay on further proceedings in all the pending cases of panchayat land grab in Mohali and Rupnagar districts by VIPs and other people. A division bench comprising Justices Surya Kant and Sudip Ahluwalia directed the Punjab government to submit a list of officers with established integrity to whom the task of Collector as well as Commissioner-cum-Appellate Authority under the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, could be assigned to enforce recommendations of the tribunal headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh.

The directions came during the resumed hearing of a bunch of petitions alleging encroachment on panchayat land in Mohali. In two interim reports submitted by the tribunal constituted by the High Court in 2013, it was pointed out that thousands of acres of shamlat (government) land was being grabbed “right under the nose of authorities” by politicians, bureaucrats, police officers and others in about 65 villages on Chandigarh’s periphery.

During the earlier hearing of the case, the Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Department had informed the court that a total of 1,919 cases of government land encroachments were pending before the court of collector-cum-district development and panchayat officer, Mohali; collector-cum-additional deputy commissioner, Mohali; and commissioner-cum-joint development commissioner (IRD). Most of the cases pertain to villages in Kharar block including Karoran, Parach, Cholta Kalan, Mastgarh, Majri and Sanauli.

The court on Tuesday ordered the state government to prepare a panel of advocates in consultation with its Additional Advocate General Reeta Kohli and amicus curiae senior advocate M L Sareen so as to entrust those advocates all such cases of land grab either filed by the village panchayats or against the panchayats.

The court also directed the state government to submit a list of all such cases which have been filed by different village panchayats under Section 7 or 11 of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, by March 14.

The court told the Punjab government to explore the option as to whether the powers of a revenue court could be given to the civil courts to decide title of the land in such cases and for that, there is a need of amendment in the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961.

The amicus curiae had submitted before the court that the state government was reluctant to implement the recommendations of Justice Kuldip Singh Tribunal for the reasons best known to it.

The amicus curiae had suggested that the state authorities should register FIRs and go ahead so that next time people do not dare to indulge in government land encroachments.

The case was posted for next hearing to March 14.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Haryana govt to start ‘Har Gaon Pedon Ki Chhaon’ scheme

To create at least one environmentally significant grove in each village during its 'Golden Jubilee' year, the Haryana government plans to implement the 'Har Gaon Pedon Ki Chhaon'

By PTI Feeds | Published: January 30, 2017 7:12 PM IST

Chandigarh, Jan 30 (PTI): To create at least one environmentally significant grove in each village during its ‘Golden Jubilee’ year, the Haryana government plans to implement the ‘Har Gaon Pedon Ki Chhaon’ scheme, under which plantation of 100 indigenous plants would be undertaken across the state.

The scheme would be implemented from February-March, a spokesman of the Forests Department said here today.

Haryana is celebrating its Golden Jubilee year from November 1, 2016 to October 31, 2017. The state was carved out as a separate entity 50 years ago on November 1, 1966.

The spokesperson said that the scheme was aimed at developing the roadside avenue of approach roads leading to and radiating from the districts, up to a distance of one km.
He said that the department would undertake plantation of trees and shrubs having aesthetic value along such roads.

The spokesman said that plantation would be carried out on panchayat land in consultation with the village panchayats. The native tree species, including fruit-bearing plants, would be preferred, he added.

He said that a city forest was also being developed at Murthal in district Sonipat, covering an area of 116 acres. As many as 16,000 plants of 62 species would be planted in the forest. 

The plantation would be carried out from February onw rds. So far, 2,500 tall plants of different species such as Pipal, Neem, Jamun and Chukrasia have been planted in the area, he added.

Apart from this, it is being planned to carry out eco- restoration of the Brahmsar wetland in village Thana, district Kurukshetra, besides developing the area as conservation reserve in view of potential of the water body to support an array of aquatic flora and fauna.

He said that work was also underway to renovate Morni Fort in district Panchkula and develop it as a heritage property.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Protect common land: Indian classical singer makes unusual appeal


MUMBAI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A popular Indian classical singer stars in a new music video appealing for the protection of common land in Chennai city, amid an increasingly bitter fight over the use of communal lands for industry and development.

'Chennai Poromboke Paadal', or Chennai common land song, sung by Carnatic music vocalist T.M. Krishna, is about the destruction of Ennore creek in the southern Indian city.

While the world "poromboke" in Tamil originally meant community land, including water sources and grazing land, it has come to be used as a pejorative term for both people and places.

"Poromboke is in the margins, and people who are dependent on them are also relegated to the margins," said environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman, who drew attention to the destruction of the creek, which activists say is being polluted by thermal power stations and a port.

"These lands are important to communities dependent on them, and are of great importance to the environment. But the word itself is now a dirty word, and it's reflected in our devaluing of common lands," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Common lands, including government forest areas, make up more than a third of India's total land area, according to the last survey in 1998.

Common lands provide food, water, fodder and livelihood to rural communities, and also help maintain ecological balance.

As demand for land rises in India to boost growth, common lands are being taken over for industrial and development projects, including mines, power plants and colleges.

"The takeover of common lands is arguably larger in scale than the takeover of private lands, affects far more people, and is often more brutal," said Shankar Gopalakrishnan at rights group Campaign for Survival and Dignity.

While several laws have been introduced to protect the land rights of farmers and indigenous communities, the laws are diluted and poorly implemented, activists say.

The Ennore creek, a network of rivulets and mangroves, is the pathway for two rivers draining into the Bay of Bengal.

In the music video, a group of musicians wearing pollution masks sit at the edge of the creek, with Krishna singing the colloquial Tamil song in classic Carnatic style, as smokestacks and transmission towers gradually appear in the background.

"Poromboke is not for you, poromboke is not for me; it is for the community, it is for the earth," he sings.

"Poromboke is in your care; poromboke is in my care. It is our common responsibility towards nature, towards the earth."

A panel set up to study the effects of the damage to Ennore creek last April recommended penalties on polluting industries, as well as a moratorium on their expansion.

It also blamed government agencies including the pollution control board and coastal management authority for turning a blind eye to the damage.

In response, government officials said the industries were asked to dredge the creek ahead of the monsoon rains, and monitor the dumping of fly ash and earth.

The music video, which has been viewed more than 55,000 times on YouTube since its weekend launch, may help spur more action, said Jayaraman, who tapped his friends for money to make the video.

"We need to change our notion of poromboke - the common land, as well as the word itself," he said.

(Reporting by Rina Chandran @rinachandran, Editing by Ros Russell. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit to see more stories.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Policy in offing to retrieve state's encroached land: J-K min

Press Trust of India |  Jammu 
January 11, 2017 Last Updated at 18:22 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir government today said that they would formulate a comprehensive policy to retrieve the encroached state and Kahcharai land. 

Replying to a question by Surinder Mohan Ambardar in the state Legislative Council, Minister for Revenue, Relief and Rehabilitation Syed Basharat Bukhari said 67,544 kanals of Kahcharai land in various districts are under unauthorized occupation.

Though the eviction of unauthorised land is a continuous process but due to prevailing situation in the state, especially in Kashmir Valley, the work for retrieving of encroached land was halted to some extent, he said. 

The minister asserted that formulation of a comprehensive policy for eviction of the encroached land is necessary and very soon this policy would be framed, under which strict action would be taken against the encroachers. 

Bhukhari said that utmost priority of the state government is to retrieve all encroached land, whether the state's or Kahcharai, and that it would be utilised for developing public infrastructure besides other welfare activities. 

He said the list of individual occupants of the land being voluminous is being compiled and can be provided to the members separately. 

The field officials of the department are under explicit instructions to take effective steps for eviction of unauthorized occupation upon Kahcharai land, he added. 

Bhukhari said the government has taken necessary measures to retrieve the state/common land from the encroachers and illegal occupants by impressing upon all subordinate field functionaries in accordance with various laws in force. 

MLCs Javaid Ahmad Mirchal, Yasir Reshi, Saif-ud-Din Bhat and Ajat Shatru Singh raised supplementary questions.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Friday, February 17, 2017

We want water not ‘power,’ says Barmer village; Protests power substation

At the ‘ratri choupal,’ the village meeting held with the district collector on Friday, villagers of Korna, Pachpadra tehsil, in Barmer district protested against the administration’s plan to construct a power substation at a spot frequented by migratory birds.

Rosamma Thomas  |  TNN  |  Updated: January 09, 2017, 16:21 IST

JAIPUR: At the 'ratri choupal,' the village meeting held with the district collector on Friday, villagers of Korna, Pachpadra tehsil, in Barmer district protested against the administration's plan to construct a power substation at a spot frequented by migratory birds.

Villagers said that the land also served as a rich catchment area for water due to which there was no water scarcity in the area. However, district collector Sudhir Kumar Sharma tried to convince the people that they should not come in the way of development.

In September 2016, Barmer district authorities sought to allot about 400 bighas of land in Korna for a power substation. In revenue records, this land is listed as 'gauchar' or grazing land, marked for cattle to graze. This area serves as a catchment area for several large lakes in the vicinity, including the largest in the Jodhpur division, Gangawas. Several migratory birds nest in the trees in this area. The Sarus crane and a large number of migratory and resident birds, including flamingoes, can be spotted here in winter. Cattle from over 20 villages graze here.

On November 9, the gram panchayat of Mulki Dhani wrote to district authorities, with an elaborate explanation, on why the substation should be shifted elsewhere to barren land.

"Korna's 'khasra' number 27 is 'gauchar' land. The 400 bighas to be allotted to the substation would ruin a rich catchment area for some of the largest lakes in Jodhpur division, including Gangawas. Over 9,000 cattle from 24 villages in the vicinity are dependent on the waterbodies that are recharged because of this land. Wild animals too are sighted in this area. A large number of migratory birds flock to the area. The substation could be moved to a spot where it would cause much less disturbance," the villagers wrote.

Guman Singh Rathod, sarpanch of Korna village, has written in the 'Format for public consultation' that the villagers' opinion was never sought before the Rajasthan Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Ltd (RVPN) decided to utilize this land.

"I was informed after the matter was finalized. We refused the idea and have asked the substation to be located elsewhere," he said.

In the column on employment opportunities that the 'development project' would bring, the villagers have written that there was sufficient work available under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

Sohan Singh, a resident of Korna, told TOI, "We got to know of this proposal only when the collector sought a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the panchayat. We went with a delegation and met energy minister Pushpendra Singh. We have also informed our MLA Amra Ram about our opposition to the proposed project. We have been assured help but we don't know for sure if the project will be shifted elsewhere."

Environmentalist Harsh Vardhan said, "On the one hand, chief minister Vasundhara Raje speaks of water harvesting, on the other, the state machinery attempts to destroy natural sites that recharge rainwater."

Concerned citizens have now taken the matter to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The Bhopal bench of NGT will hear the matter on January 25.

Friday, February 10, 2017

In Other Courts: Allahabad High Court - Jurakhan & 9 Others Vs Board of Revenue, U.P. Lucknow & 2 Others

eLegalix - Allahabad High Court Judgment Information System (Judgment/Order in Text Format)

Court No. - 21 

Case :- MISC. SINGLE No. - 5306 of 2013 

Petitioner :- Jurakhan & 9 Others 
Respondent :- Board Of Revenue, U.P. Lucknow & 2 Others 
Counsel for Petitioner :- Anuj Kudesia 
Counsel for Respondent :- C.S.C. 

Hon'ble Sibghat Ullah Khan,J. 

Exercising powers under Section 227 of the Constitution of India, this court proposes to decide the entire controversy by itself. No further proceedings in any court in this matter shall be taken. 

It is more than evident that the Additional Deputy Collector Sadar, Lucknow has gifted the State property in dispute to respondent No.3, Ram Kishor, son of late Kunj Bihari. Now the ten petitioners claiming to be co-laterals of Ram Kishor also want their share in the loot. However, the petitioners have done a good job by bringing the matter to the notice of the court. Lekhpal gave a report on 05.12.2012 blindly in favour of respondent No.3, which is contained in Annexure-5 to the writ petition. The Lekhpal gave report on an application under Section 33/39 of U.P. Land Revenue Act. The application was filed on 28.03.2012. After 37 years, State/ Gaon Sabha land or anyone's land cannot be given to some other person merely on an application under Section 33/39 of U.P.L.R. Act. Respondent No.3 claimed that the property in dispute was entered in his name in Khatauni 1376-78 Fasli. He did not give any reason as to why thereafter his name was not continued in the revenue record. Lekhpal categorically reported that after 1382 Fasli (1974-75 A.D.) the property in dispute i.e. Plot No.357/2, area 2 bigha was not entered in anyone's name. It means that the land was State or Gaon Sabha property. Lekhpal also reported that records from the year 1363 to 1375 Fasli were in torn state hence nothing could be verified therefrom. Benefit of this state of affairs could not be given to the petitioners otherwise any one can claim any other person's property. No State property and no property of a private tenure-holder appears to be safe in the hands of such Lekhpals and Deputy Collectors. Under somewhat similar circumstances, I held in paras 22 to 27 in U.P. Awas Evam Vkas Parishad, Lucknow Vs. Lajja Ram, 2012, (3) AWC 2226, as follows: 

"The provision of presumption is provided under Section 114 of Evidence Act, which contains some illustrations also. The said section along with illustrations (e) & (f) is quoted below: 

"114. Court may presume existence of certain facts.- The court may presume the existence of any fact which it thinks likely to have happened, regard being had to the common course of natural events, human conduct and public and private business in their relation to the facts of the particular case. 

The Court may presume- 
(e) that judicial and official acts have been regularly performed; 
(f) that the common course of business has been followed in particular case;" 

If the presumption of entry in favour of plaintiff's father for four or seven years is to be presumed then presumption of correctness of discontinuance of entry for 40 years will also have to be drawn. 
Life of law has not been logic, it has been experience (O.W. Holmes). This principle applies with greater force on presumptions and human conduct. I have heard and decided hundreds of matters pertaining to agricultural land and my experience is that Gaon Sabha property has been looted by unscrupulous persons on a very large scale by manipulation in the revenue records and forging of orders particularly of consolidation courts. The modus operendi is that a very old entry or copy of order is produced like a rabbit from the hat of a magician and its resumption or recording is sought. 

Supreme Court in Civil Appeal No.1132 of 2011, Jagpal Singh and others Vs. State of Punjab, in Para-20 observed as follows: 
"20. In Uttar Pradesh the U.P. Consolidation of Holdings Act, 1954 was widely misused to usurp Gram Sabha lands either with connivance of the Consolidation Authorities, or by forging orders purported to have been passed by Consolidation Officers in the long past so that they may not be compared with the original revenue record showing the land as Gram Sabha land, as these revenue records had been weeded out. Similar may have been the practice in other States. The time has now come to review all these orders by which the common village land has been grabbed by such fraudulent practices." 

In Dina Nath Vs. State of U.P. 2009 (108) R.D. 321, I held that not making any efforts for getting the name of the petitioner entered in the revenue records on the basis of alleged patta by Gaon Sabha for 29 years proved that no patta was executed. I issued directions to all the Collectors to reopen all such cases where names of private persons were entered in the revenue records over Gaon Sabha land. Matter was carried to the Supreme Court in the form of S.L.P. (Civil) C.C.4398 of 2010 Dina Nath Vs. State. The Supreme Court decided the matter on 29.03.2010 and quoted almost my entire judgment in inverted commas and approved the same. 

Accordingly, it is held that whenever a person comes along with the case that Gaon Sabha land was allotted to him or some order was passed by any Court in his favour declaring his right over Gaon Sabha land or some revenue entry was in his favour long before but during last several years his name is not recorded in the revenue records then an irrebuttable presumption amounting to almost conclusive proof must be drawn to the effect that allotment order or entry is forged." 

The area of the land in dispute is 0.506 hectare and it is situate in Gomti Nagar and appears to be prime land. May be the intention of respondent No.3 was to get compensation of the said land as it is stated to have been acquired. 

Issue notice to respondent No.3 to show cause as to why the order dated 22.12.2012 passed by Sudhir Kumar Rungta, Additional Deputy Collector (S.D.O.), Sadar Lucknow shall not be set aside. 

Until further order property shall remain with the State/ Gaon Sabha or the acquiring body, if it has been acquired. Neither respondent No.3 nor the petitioners shall be permitted to put their feet thereupon. The Lekhpal, who gave the reports on 05.12.2012 prima facie does not deserve to remain in service. It is directed that disciplinary proceedings against the Additional Collector as well as lekhpal shall immediately be initiated. 

List for further orders on 12.09.2013. 

Let the effect of this order be recorded in the revenue records immediately. 

Office is directed to supply a copy of this order free of cost to Sri Vinay Bhushan, learned Additional C.S.C. 
Order Date :- 14.8.2013