State directed to prevent ‘encroachment’ upon water bodies and Gram Panchayat land

Uttaranchal High Court: The Division Bench comprising of Rajiv Sharma and Lok Pal Singh, JJ., addressed a petition raising the concern of encroachment over the Gram Panchayat land by unscrupulous people, for which the bench issued directives in order to prevent the said act.

The petition brought a very peculiar and eye-raising concern of encroachment upon various water bodies, grazing land, playground, etc. For the said act of encroachment, State Government is the authority accountable to protect the water bodies as they serve the villagers for multiple purposes. Further, an important point noted by the Court was of the regularization of ‘encroachment’ by the Revenue Courts.

However, on analysing the situation and the importance of these water bodies and Gram Panchayat land towards the entire community and relying upon the Supreme Court cases of Jagpal Singh v. State of Punjab, (2011) 11 SCC 396 and Hinchlal Tiwari v. Kamla Devi, 2001 (92) R.D. 689, in which it was clearly laid down that ‘regularization of the encroachment of Gram Panchayat land is impermissible’, directions were issued to the State Government.

Therefore, the Hon’ble Court placed a clear vision to the State Government by issuing mandatory directions for the prevention of the ‘encroachment’ of water bodies as well as Gram Panchayat land, which were as follows:

  • Encroachments from all the village ponds, playgrounds and common grazing land to be removed in 6 months.
  • Illegal entries changing the nature of water bodies and common grazing land to be reversed in the original nature.
  • Fencing around the stated water bodies and common grazing land.
  • Quality of water to be maintained throughout the year.
  • Constitution of a committee in order to identify and locate the water bodies of respective jurisdiction. [Kunwar Pal Singh v. State of Uttarakhand,2018 SCC OnLine Utt 545, decided on 13-06-2018]

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