Friday, December 2, 2022

Allahabad High Court flays Indian Railways for failing to take action against encroachment on its land in Prayagraj

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Coming down heavily on the Indian Railways for failing to take action against encroachers on its land in Jhunsi, Prayagraj, the Allahabad High Court has issued a slew of directions to tackle with the ‘menace’ and remove the encroachment.

A Division Bench comprising Justice Pritinker Diwaker and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava passed this order on Thursday, while hearing a petition filed by Anoop Kumar Mishra.

The petitioner sought issuance of a writ of mandamus, commanding the respondents to demolish the construction over the plot and other plots, measuring 13.875 hectares, which were in the name of Railways.

The Counsel for the petitioner filed documents to establish that the plots were the properties of Railways. The photographs brought on record depict the extent of the encroachment over the Railway land.

The encroachment over the Railway land was a menace to development, which ultimately resulted in an average Indian citizen being deprived of better amenities and experiences, noted the Bench.

The Court said it was saddened by the attitude of indifference adopted by the officials of the Indian Railways.

It suggested the Indian Railways to invoke the provisions of Public Premises Act. Besides, the Railways maintains a Railway Police Force, whose services could be utilized to safeguard the railway property wherever it is situated, said the Bench and issued a slew of directions to the Indian Railways. These include:-

(i) The railway authorities shall immediately issue notice to the occupants of the railway land, asking them to vacate the land within three weeks of the notice being served on them.

(ii) If the occupants/encroachers fail to vacate the land despite notice having been served, it shall be open to the railway authorities to initiate appropriate action to forcibly dispossess such occupants/encroachers and demolish or remove the unauthorized structures raised by them by taking assistance of the local police force.

The Superintendent/Commissioner of Police of the concerned area is expected to ensure that adequate police force is deployed on the site and surrounding areas, including protection to the officials/staff engaged in the demolition of illegal structures and eviction process.

(iii) The railways administration is expected to initiate civil/criminal action against the encroachers/unauthorized occupants on the railways properties at the earliest, once it is brought to the notice of the concerned official of the railways.

(iv) The Railways Administration, as also the local administration and the State Government, is expected to initiate appropriate action against the erring persons, including the officials of the concerned establishment for allowing and tolerating such encroachment and for not taking corrective action for removal of the encroachment at the right time.

(v) The Railways Administration is also expected to initiate an enquiry to check the veracity of the land boundaries verification register so maintained and if everything is found to be in order, to ascertain as to why no steps were taken to remove the encroachments. The railway administration shall also ensure that no new encroachments are made on the areas that are being cleared by way of the order passed by the Court and ensure that any and every encroachment is duly reported pin the land boundaries verification register and the requisite follow up action is taken at the earliest.

With the aforesaid directions, the Court disposed of the petition.

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