Orissa High Court: A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar CJ. and B. P Routray J. dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner since the time of his forefathers is in peaceful possession over a piece of land. Being a landless person he applied to the Tahasildar, Sambalpur for settlement of the case land in his favour under the provisions of the Odisha Government Land Settlement Act (in short ‘O.G.L.S. Act’). Earlier he had approached this Court in W.P. (C) No.4576 of 2014 which was disposed of by this Court by order dated 15th April, 2014 with a direction to the Tahasildar to dispose of the Petitioner’s application in accordance with law. The Petitioner contends that during the pendency of his application, the Opposite Parties without disposing of his claim as per the earlier order of this Court are trying to dispossess him in an arbitrary and discriminatory manner. The instant petition is filed by the Petitioner praying that the case land be settled in his favour.

Counsel for the petitioners Mr B.P.B. Bahali submitted that the State is duty-bound to provide shelter to its citizen, who is a landless person. The Petitioner resides on the case land by constructing a house over a portion of the same and the remaining portion is used for cultivation purpose. The petitioner submitted that he earns his livelihood on daily wage basis and as such he fulfils all eligibility criteria for settlement of the land in his favour as per the provisions of O.G.L.S. Act and Rules.

Counsel for the respondents Mr S. Pattnayak submitted that averments made in the writ petition are not correct as the petitioner was never in possession of the case land. As per field enquiry conducted by the Revenue Inspector, the case land was found a vacant piece of land and alienation was initiated in favour of Western Electricity Supply Company Ltd. (WESCO) for establishment of Grid Sub-Station. It was further stated that the case land comes under Category-III (A) reserved for public developmental purpose in terms of Section 3(1) of the O.G.L.S. Act, hence submitting that neither the petitioner nor his forefathers were in possession of the case land at any point in time.

The Court observed that on detailed scrutiny of the entire materials, the Court is unable to find anything to support the Petitioner’s claim. The Petitioner has not brought anything on record to support his claim of being a landless person covered under the O.G.L.S. Act for settlement of the case land in his favour or that he was in possession of the same from the time of his forefathers.

The Court relied on judgment Grid Corporation of Orissa Limited (GRIDCO) v. Sukamani Das, (1999) 7 SCC 298 and held that the present writ petition raises highly disputed question of facts, which would require the leading of evidence and the examination and cross-examination of witnesses, and which are, therefore, not amenable to being adjudicated under Article 226 of the Constitution.”[Anil Palai v. State of Odisha, 2021 SCC OnLine Ori 632, decided on 31-05-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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