Jharkhand High Court: Rajesh Shankar, J. quashed and set aside the impugned order issued by the Chairman of Lohardaga Municipality. The had petitioner filed a petition to challenge the order issued to them by the respondent, whereby the then Assistant Vice-President (Mines) of the petitioner (Hindalco Industries Limited) was directed to remove part of its boundary wall alleging the same to be an encroachment.

Indrajit Sinha, counsel for the petitioner, argued that the impugned letter issued on 02-01-2012 was without jurisdiction as the respondent was not the competent authority to issue the said letter to the petitioner for removing the alleged encroachment. He further submitted that even if the concerned boundary wall of the petitioner was encroachment, a due proceeding for the removal of the same should have been initiated, that too, by a competent authority. Therefore, the impugned letter should be quashed by the Court.

A counter affidavit was filed by the respondent where he justified the issuance of the impugned letter by stating that the said part of the boundary wall of the petitioner was encroachment and the same was required to be removed.

The Court before giving any judgment on the said matter clarified that the issue before them was to not ascertain as to whether the boundary wall of the petitioner in question is an encroachment, rather the issue is to ascertain whether, for removal of any encroachment, the respondent is the competent authority. The Court explained that if any structure or installation was alleged to be a public encroachment, the same is required to be removed by initiating an appropriate proceeding under the Bihar (now Jharkhand) Public Land Encroachment Act, 1956 and by the competent authority designated under the Act.

Therefore, the Court held that the impugned order dated 02-01-2012 issued by the respondent, the Chairman of Lohardaga Municipality, cannot be sustained in law as he didn’t have the jurisdiction to do so. The Court didn’t go into the issue of the alleged encroachment by the petitioner on its facts.[Hindalco Industries Ltd. v. Lohardaga Municipality, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1288, decided on 18-09-2019]

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