Read Order: Gurmukh Singh Vs. State of Punjab and others

LE Staff

Chandigarh, October 26, 2021: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has recently dismissed a Writ Petition challenging the orders of the Director, Rural Development and Panchayat Department and the Collector, whereby it was held that there was illegal encroachment on the land in question and as such the petitioner was directed to immediately vacate the land in dispute and handover the vacant possession to the Gram Panchayat. 

The Division Bench of Justice Ashok Kumar Verma and Justice Augustine George Masih observed that the menace of encroachments on public properties are creeping up day-by-day and creating obstructions to the planned development of the Nation.

Herein,the Gram Panchayat, Maheru, had  filed a case before the District Development and Panchayat Officer-cum-Collector, Jalandhar against the petitioner and six others alleging that the petitioner had illegally encroached the Gram Panchayat land situated in Village Maheru, Tehsil Nakodar, District Jalandhar. 

The land in dispute is common property under the control of Gram Panchayat, Maheru and the income from the said land was being used for the development and progress of the village. The petitioner got the land in dispute on lease in the name of his relatives and did not give back the same to the Gram Panchayat, Maheru. 

It was after hearing the Gram Panchayat and considering the revenue record, that the Collector had come to the conclusion that there was illegal encroachment on the land in question and as such he passed eviction order dated October 17,2017 directing the petitioner to immediately vacate the land in dispute and handover the vacant possession to the Gram Panchayat. 

Aggrieved against the aforesaid order, the petitioner filed an Appeal before the Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab at Mohali which was also dismissed.Thus, the present petition had been filed challenging the aforesaid orders. 

From the petitioner’s side, it was contended that neither the land in dispute was used for common purpose nor its income was ever used for development of village and it was never leased to the petitioner or his relatives as alleged by the Gram Panchayat. It was also submitted that the land in dispute which was earlier in the name of private persons had been transferred in the name of the petitioner and other performa respondents by a sale deed and the land in dispute did not come under the definition of ‘Shamlat Deh’.

Finding no substance in the submissions of the counsel for the petitioner, the Division Bench opined that the submissions and the assertions of the petitioner were bald, baseless and imaginary and had no leg to stand. 

As per the Bench, there was no evidence on record to show that the disputed land belonged to the petitioner. On the other hand, the Collector examined the issue thoroughly in its order and after appreciating the evidence the Collector arrived at the conclusion that as per Jamabandi for the year 2005-06, in the column of ownership ‘Panchayat Deh’ is mentioned, the petitioner was is in illegal possession of the land in dispute and the same has remained in control of Gram Panchayat. 

The Court went on to state that the Collector rightly ordered eviction of the petitioner from the land in dispute, which was also upheld by the Commissioner passed in the appeal filed by the petitioner observing that there was nothing on record to show that the petitioner was owner of the land in dispute. 

The Bench also referred to the decision of the Supreme Court in the case of Jagpal Singh and others vs. State of Punjab and others, wherein it was held that even if the encroachers had built houses on the land, they must be ordered to remove their construction and hand over possession of the land to the Gram Panchayat. It was stressed that Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat land must be kept for the common use of the residents of the village. 

In the absence of any cogent evidence and material on record in favour of the petitioner, the Bench found no reason to interfere with the findings of fact recorded by the revenue authorities in their comprehensive and speaking orders. 

With these observations, the Bench thus,dismissed the present Writ Petition.

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