SC gives a year’s time to encroachers to vacate Gram Panchayat land meant for school
The Supreme Court (SC) of India set aside a judgment by the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which allowed encroachment upon the land meant for a school playground in a Haryana Gram Panchayat.
SC bench of Justices M R Shah and B V Nagarathna said:
There cannot be any school without a playground. Even the students who study in such a school are entitled to a good environment.
The SC was hearing a plea by the Haryana government. The joint bench overturned a 2015 Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment in the matter, terming it a “very serious error”.
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Gram Panchayat land in Mauja Magharpur in Haryana’s Yamunanagar district was occupied illegally and no space for a playground was left for the school allocated in the area.
The 2015 order by the High Court directed the authorities to legalise the unauthorised occupation of the school land. The encroachers of the land in Khasra numbers 61/2 and 62 of the Gram Panchayat, after the eviction order, filed a petition in the Punjab-Haryana High Court, asking if they could give another peice of land to the school.
The encroachers had taken five kanal and four marla (around 0.26 hectares) of land out of 11 kanal and 15 marla (around 0.58 hectares) reserved for the school. The process of removing the encroaching families from the land began 23 years ago.
The eviction proceedings of the illegal occupants of the Gram Panchayat land were initiated on March 25, 2009 by filing an eviction application under Section 7(2) of the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Act.
The Assistant Collector of Yamuna Nagar had passed an order of expulsion dated August 30, 2011 against the respondents contesting the case.
However, the encroachers appealed against this eviction order to the Yamuna Nagar Collector, which was rejected on May 2, 2012. After this, the occupiers knocked on the door of the commissioner of the Ambala division. This appeal was also dismissed on July 4, 2014.
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Finally, the occupiers filed a petition in the Punjab-Haryana High Court on February 23, 2015, saying that they were ready to give the same amount of land adjacent to the school to the Gram Panchayat as they had occupied. After this, the High Court gave a decision accepting this condition.
“There is no playground at all. The school is surrounded by the unauthorised construction made by the original writ petitioners. Therefore, the unauthorised occupation and possession of the land, which is reserved for the school and the playground, cannot be directed to be legalised,” the Supreme Court said in its March 3, 2023 order.
The unauthorised occupants have been given 12 months’ time to vacate the land. If the encroachers do not vacate within one year, then the appropriate authority should remove the entire unauthorised residence and occupation from there, the Supreme Court added.
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