28 Aug 2023 8:05 AM GMT
The Calcutta High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL challenging the order of the Block Land & Land Reforms Officer (BL & LRO) allocating a portion of the Adiganga water body in the Sundarbans to the private respondents under the West Bengal Land Reform Act, 1955. (“WBLR”)Petitioners argued that the respondents were preventing Hindus in the area from offering their worship at the...
The Calcutta High Court on Monday dismissed a PIL challenging the order of the Block Land & Land Reforms Officer (BL & LRO) allocating a portion of the Adiganga water body in the Sundarbans to the private respondents under the West Bengal Land Reform Act, 1955. (“WBLR”)
Petitioners argued that the respondents were preventing Hindus in the area from offering their worship at the water body, even though the same was attached to a temple, and prayers were carried on since 1933.
In dismissing the PIL with liberty to the petitioner to challenge the order of allocation under provisions of the WBLR Act, a division-bench of CJ Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya held:
“It was submitted by the respondents that they are not preventing any Hindus from performing religious rituals during temple festivals and other days. No further direction is required to be issued, except to observe that the plot of land in question shall be preserved as a water body, and the public of area belonging to all faiths of religion shall be free to offer prayers and carry out rituals there. We leave it open to the petitioner to challenge the order of the authority under provisions of the WBLR Act.”
Petitioners argued that they were villagers of a remote village in Sundarbans, and had been offering prayers at the water body known as Adiganga where there were footsteps of Chaitanyadev along with several temples. Petitioners submitted that since the original owners of the plot of land had left it to the villagers, they had been offering their prayers there, every year.
Counsel for the petitioner argued that the plot was, in 2012, “suddenly” transferred to a private respondent based on a purported sale deed from the year 1900, and expressed apprehension that the water body would be filled up.
Private-respondents argued that the present was a “political interest litigation” and that the water body belonged to the private respondents, who did not have any objections to the worship being offered by the Hindu’s in the area and had no intentions of filling up the water body either.
It was submitted that the registration was done in accordance in law, and that the difference in dates was a mere “mistake”.
While Court conceded there are inconsistencies in the ownership of the private respondents, insofar as the sale deed is from the year 1900 and the land allocation was done in 2012, it also expressed exception to the petitioner’s arguments on communal lines, and directed for these inconsistencies to be challenged in appeal, before the competent authority. It concluded:
“Don’t try to create communal tension sir…if there is so much tension, we will declare that 144 CrPC may be imposed, and we will say that none can enter the water body. The photos show that worship is being allowed…we will give you liberty to go in appeal.”
Case: Satyendranath Halder And Ors Vs State Of West Bengal And Ors.
Coram: CJ Sivagnanam and Justice Hiranmay Bhattacharya
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Cal) 242