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Meenu Srivastava vs Government Of Nct Of Delhi And Ors - (High Court of Delhi) (29 Jun 2022)

Illegal occupants/encroachers are not entitled to any prior notice

MANU/DE/2235/2022

Property

The present writ petition has been filed under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India, 1950 seeking quashing/ setting aside of (i) Notification dated 24th May, 1994 issued by Respondent No. 2 - Development Department of GNCTD declaring lands mentioned under Schedule 'A' annexed therein ["petition land''] as "reserved forest"; and (ii) Notice dated 08th June, 2022 issued by Respondent No. 3.

Petitioners, submits that the petition land was initially under the control of the Revenue Department, however, was later declared as "reserved forest" in terms of Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 by the Respondent No. 3 by way of the above Notification. Thereafter, deriving authority from the same, Respondent No. 3 issued the impugned Notice wherein Petitioners were directed to vacate the petition land within 7 days, failing which, the structures erected thereon would be demolished and all materials found shall be seized as tools of encroachment. However, despite the issuance of the impugned Notice, it is submitted that the petition land always remained residential in nature and Petitioners and other alleged encroachers, continued to reside in the petition land for more than a decade.

Petitioners are apparently rank trespassers on public/ reserved forest land, and have not been able to establish any legal right over the same. Thus, Petitioners are not entitled to any equitable remedy under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950 which bestows extraordinary jurisdiction on this Court. Upon a conjoint reading of the Notification with the Impugned Notification, it is clear that the petition land is a reserved forest, and cannot be utilised for residential purpose by the Petitioners.

Illegal occupants/encroachers are not entitled to any prior notice, as has been held by this Court in Rajinder Kakkar v. DDA. Nonetheless, a vacation Notice (being the impugned notice dated 08th June, 2022) has already been issued to the Petitioners requiring Petitioners to peacefully vacate the petition land within 7 days.

Accordingly, the Notification of 2nd April 1996 is still in force today and bars the Petitioners herein from utilizing the land for residential purpose. Thus, the Petitioners' claim for protection, based on the ground that they have purchased their houses on the petition land much after the impugned notification dated 24th May, 1994 was notified, is unfounded, perverse in law.

It is apparent that, the Petitioners are keenly desirous of holding on to their encroached land. They cannot legally occupy the land in question which vests with the Respondents. Merely because the Petitioners have built a structure on the petition land, it cannot give them any right to continue residing thereon when the land underneath the said structure does not belong to them. As per the directions of the Supreme Court, and National Green Tribunal, the Forest Department is now duty bound to protect the areas and promote forestation. Petition dismissed.

Tags : ENCROACHMENT   NOTIFICATION   VALIDITY  

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