Jharkhand High Court: In furtherance of a newspaper report highlighting the failed attempt of land grabbers to capture the land of former Supreme Court Judge, Justice M.Y. Eqbal, the Division Bench of Shree Chandrashekhar and Ratnaker Bhengra, JJ. took suo motu cognizance of the matter eyeing at the increasing instances of land grabbing in the State, and directed the government and police officials to come up with specific data on land grabbing regarding number and nature of complaints, government meetings, etc.
A report published in daily newspaper ‘Prabhat Khabar’ indicated towards an attempt by land grabbers to capture the land of late Justice M.Y. Eqbal. The Court was concerned that the said report raised serious concern regarding protection of life and property of residents of Ranchi. The Court highlighted its own experiences of the operation of gangs of land grabbers in Jharkhand state through ongoing cases and finger pointed towards several petitions filed before the Court complaining against attempts of land grabbing, ransom demands by gangs, and crimes of like nature and said that “we would assume that the situation is within the knowledge of the State Administration”.
Although the instant matter was brought in motion after the said newspaper report focused upon the land belonging to a former Supreme Court judge, the Court made it clear that the person whose land grab was attempted is not important, but the situation is the reason that the Court took cognizance of the instant matter. It further expressed that “Afterall, a person by becoming a judge does not lose his rights which every common man of this country possesses.”
The Court cautioned that such acts of vandalism and attempts of grabbing land belonging to others may not exactly affect the State security, but public order, since such instances shake people’s confidence in the system making them feel helpless and hapless when such acts are done in a brazen manner. The Court hinted towards some ‘outside forces’ instigating such incidents and protecting anti-social elements and land grabbers.
The Court acknowledged the fact that ensuring common man’s security is not only a State’s legal duty, but a Constitutional mandate. It said that “If the citizens are forced to live in an atmosphere where they would apprehend loss of property, that would herald the end of rule of law.”
The Court took cognizance of the situation and thereby directed the Registry to institute a suo motu writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India arraying the government and State Police officials. The Court directed the Senior Superintendent of Police to give details of cases registered in Ranchi complaining about land grabbing, status of such complaints/FIRs and action taken in pursuance of such complaints such as arrest, etc.
The Court directed the Principal Secretary to Department of Home, Jail and Disaster Management of Jharkhand Government to give details of monthly meetings held in past 6 months and decisions in such meetings regarding maintenance of law and order for safety of the common man against rising incidents of like nature.
The Court also directed Additional DGP of Jharkhand Police Wireless Headquarter authorized by the Court to conduct an enquiry for ascertaining availability of prima evidence regarding involvement of local police or other persons in such incidents, or whether it was sheer negligence and dereliction on part of the police and submit a report in a sealed cover within 2 weeks. The Court also appointed an Amicus Curiae in the instant matter and directed the police officers concerned to cooperate in the instant report.
[Court on its own motion v. State of Jharkhand, Civil Writ Petition No. 3283 of 2023, Order dated 26-06-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Petitioner: Advocate Atanu Banerjee;
For Respondents: Government Pleader Rahul Saboo.