Supreme Court: By way of Special Leave Petition, the petitioners assailed the order of Uttaranchal High Court which had ordered the Railways and local authorities to demolish the structures and evict 50,000 unauthorised occupants in order to remove encroachment from railway’s land within 7 days. The division bench of Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Abhay S. Oka, JJ., stayed the impugned order coupled with complete restraint on any further occupation of land or construction, whether by the existing occupants or anyone else.


The Uttaranchal High Court had opined that the inhabitants of Haldwani had no enforceable legal rights and had given free hand to the Railway Authorities in coordination with the district administration and any other paramilitary forces to use force to any extent, determining upon the need, and evict the unauthorised occupants after serving them a week’s notice.


The Order had further stated that if the encroachers failed to vacate the premises after being issued notice, the railways, in joint coordination with the local police and district administration, could initiate immediate action and take forceful possession of the occupied land.


The Order had also stated the inaction on part of the State machinery for not providing adequate assistance for removing the unauthorised occupants, despite the Orders of the Court. Further, the Court had dismissed the claim of the residents, that the subject area was a nazul land as per the 1907 records, stating that the same will not have any statutory force.


“Under the Urdu terminology, nazul land means a land, which is commonly called as ‘jaayajaad munjaapaata’, which means a land, which was left by the principal occupier, as an act of rebellion of Mutiny of 1857, which was later on vested with the Queen. Since no act of Mutiny of 1857 had ever taken place in the Haldwani Khas, so created in 1834, no part of the land of Haldwani Khas, would be said to be ‘jaayajaad munjaapaata’, to be termed as a nazul land,” observed the Uttaranchal High Court.


The Court in the present case observed that the Additional Solicitor General (‘ASG’) had made great emphasis on the need of the railways, however, the stand of the State Government was also to be appraised that whether the complete land was to be vested in the Railways or the State Government. Moreover, the issue of occupants claiming rights in the land as lessees/auction was to be considered as well.


The Court went on to state that there cannot be uprooting of 50,000 people overnight within seven days. A workable arrangement had to be arrived at to segregate people who may have no rights in the land and those who have, coupled with rehabilitation schemes. The Court further directed the ASG to look into the methodology of achieving the above stated purpose.


The Court also directed the pending proceedings pursuant to earlier Supreme Court orders under the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants ) Act, 1971 to continue without prejudice even if persisting without ‘stay’.


Thus, the Court stayed the impugned order of Uttaranchal High Court, coupled with complete restraint on any further occupation of land or construction whether by the existing occupant or by anyone else.

The matter to be listed next on 07-02-2023

[Abdul Mateen Siddiqui v Union of India, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 17, order dated 05-01-2023]


For the petitioner– Senior Advocate Salman Khurshid, Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, Advocate on Record Lubna Naaz, Advocate on Record Prashant Bhushan, Advocate on Record Mridula Ray Bharadwaj, Advocate on Record Satya Mitra, Advocate on Record Vinam Gupta, Advocate Sommya Chaturvedi, Advocate Arushi Jain, Advocate Akshat Kumar, Advocate Sandeep Tiwari, Advocate Rashmi Singh, Advocate Ria Yadav, Advocate Suman Bharadwaj, Advocate Vidant Bharadwaj, Advocate Kawalpreet Kaur, Advocate Piyush Garg, Advocate Abhijeet Swaroop, Advocate Akshay Sapre, Advocate Akshat Kumar, Advocate Utkarsh Srivastava

For the Respondent- Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, Deputy Additional General Jatinder Kumar Sethi, Advocate on Record Amrish Kumar, Advocate on Record Vipin Nair, Advocate Mayank Pandey, Advocate Keetan Paul, Advocate Ketan Paul, Advocate Shivika Mehra, Advocate Digvijay D., Advocate Manvendra Singh, Advocate Bhuvan Kapoor, Advocate Abhijeet Singh, Advocate P B Suresh, Advocate Karthik Jayashankar, Advocate Rajeev Singh Bisht, Advocate Arindham Ghosh, Advocate Vinayak Mishra

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