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Officers Can't Promote Encroachers By Allotting Alternative Lands In Absence Of Statutory Provision: Madras High Court

Sebin James
25 March 2022 11:15 AM GMT
Officers Cant Promote Encroachers By Allotting Alternative Lands In Absence Of Statutory Provision: Madras High Court
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Madras High Court has once again made clear its rigid stand on the removal of water body encroachments by stating that officers can't be allowed to promote encroachers by allotting alternative lands elsewhere.The first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy noted that allotment of such alternative lands would only promote the tendency to...

Madras High Court has once again made clear its rigid stand on the removal of water body encroachments by stating that officers can't be allowed to promote encroachers by allotting alternative lands elsewhere.

The first bench of Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy noted that allotment of such alternative lands would only promote the tendency to encroach Government/ Poramboke land and water bodies. The court also reiterated about the 'total failure' of officers in the removal of encroachments in water bodies and catchment areas.

"For years, the Officers remained silent spectators and failed to take any action in reference to the encroachments on the water-bodies...The encroachment of the water-bodies would lead to shrinkage of the water-bodies, destroying them to the maximum and creating acute water scarcity. At times, in the absence of storage facilities to store the water during rainy season, it causes floods", the first bench remarked.

It is pertinent to note that Madras High Court had issued a slew of directions to prevent encroachments in January this year, thereby signalling that there will be no leniency towards waterbody encroachers and land grabbers. While hearing the matter, the first bench had also made scathing observations about delinquent officials.

On 23rd January, Madras High Court was hearing a writ petition filed for removal of encroachments from a water tank in the centre of Karadivavi Village in Palladam Taluk, Tiruppur District. In the status report filed by the state, it was mentioned that many encroachers have been removed and the rest of them can't be removed until alternative lands are allotted to them. Therefore, Additional Advocate General sought more time from the court to complete the process.

According to the status report, 20 encroachers were yet to be removed, pending allotment of alternative land for them.

Due to AAG's submission, the court asked the state if it can refer to any provision of law that mandates state government to allot lands to the encroachers. AAG couldn't answer the question to the court's satisfaction. Therefore, the court noted in the order as below:

"In view of the above, learned Additional Advocate General could not clarify as to why the Officers are promoting the encroachers by allotting alternative lands else-where. It may be a Government policy or decision. However, in the absence of any statutory provision, it would lead to promoting encroachment of the lands on the water-bodies and the same cannot be endorsed"

To bolster the views expressed, the bench placed reliance on the apex court judgment in Joginder v. State of Haryana, 2021 LL SC 66, where it was held that the persons in illegal occupation of the government land/panchayat land cannot, as a matter of right, claim regularisation.

The High Court has ordered the state government to make sure that the remaining encroachments are removed by 4th April and to file a report accordingly.

Case Title: S. Karthikeyan & Anr v. District Collector & Ors.

Case No: W.P.No.13493 of 2021 and W.M.P.Nos.14361 and 14363 of 2021

Click Here To Read/ Download Order





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