States told to remove encroachment from village public land

January 31st, 2011 - 9:35 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 31 (IANS) The Supreme Court has described as illegal all orders which have facilitated grabbing of common village lands and directed state governments to prepare plans to evict illegal occupants from these plots.”The time has now come to review all these orders by which the common village land has been grabbed by such fraudulent practices,” said the apex court bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Gyan Sudha Misra.

The order given Friday directed all state governments and the union territories to prepare schemes for eviction of illegal occupants of Gram Sabha (common village) land.

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

“Long duration of such illegal occupation or huge expenditure in making constructions thereon or political connections must not be treated as a justification for condoning this illegal act or for regularizing the illegal possession,” the court said.

“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,” the court said.

The court order said that chief secretaries of all states and union territories will ensure strict and prompt compliance of the order and submit compliance reports to this court from time to time.

The court order came while dismissing an appeal by Jagpal Singh and other challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict by which it had held that the occupation of village pond of Rohar Jagir by the appellant was illegal. Village Rohar Jagir is in Punjab’s Patiala district.

The apex court said that “over the last few decades most of these ponds in our country have been filled with earth and built upon by greedy people, thus, destroying their original character. This has contributed to the water shortages in the country”.

“Also, many ponds are auctioned off at throw away prices to businessmen for fisheries in collusion with authorities or gram panchayat officials, and even the money collected from these so called auctions are not used for the common benefit of the villagers but misappropriated by certain individuals. The time has come when these malpractices must stop,” the court said.

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