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Gauhati High Court closes PIL against allotment of land for BJP Assam office

The Division Bench of Chief Justices observed that the whole petition is based on a newspaper article published on 02.12.2018 in an Assamese newspaper wherein it was alleged that the land in question which belongs to the Water Resource Department has been encroached upon by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh. 

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The Gauhati High Court has closed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for setting aside any proposal for allotment of land of Water Resources Department and any proposal for allotment of land in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The PIL filed by one Dilip Kumar Sarma ,  prayed for the following reliefs: 
“It is therefore prayed that your lordship may be pleased to admit this petition, call for the records, issue rule calling upon the respondents to show cause as to why 
A) a writ in the nature of certiorari shall not be issued setting aside any proposal for allotment of land of Water Resources Department and any proposal for allotment of land in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party situated at revenue village Maidam, under Beltola Mouza. Dispur circle covered by Dag No. 3539 & dag No. 147 Revenue Village Basistha Grant, Mouza Beltola which has already been allotted in the name of Water Resources Department.
B) a writ in the nature of Mandamus shall not be issued directing the departmental authorities for evicting the encroachment from the land belonging to Water Resources Department situated at village Moidam, Mouza Beltola, Circle Dispur, Kamrup (M) and village Basistha Grant, Mouza Beltola, Circle Dispur, Kamrup (M) and/or to free the land from any encroachment.
C) a writ in the nature of mandamus shall not be issued directing the respondent authorities to remove the signboard of the Bharatiya Janata Party from the plot of land belonging to the Water Resources Department, situated at Revenue village Maidam, Mouza Beltola, Circle Dispur, Kamrup(M) covered by Dag No 3539 & village Basistha Grant, Mouza Beltola, Circle Dispur, Kamrup(M) covered by Dag No 147. And after hearing the parties cause/ causes being made, if any be pleased to make the rule absolute and pass such order/orders as may deem fit and proper in the interest of justice. Pending disposal of this case it is further prayed that your lordships may be pleased to direct the respondent authorities for taking appropriate steps to evict encroachers/get the land in question free from all kinds of encroachments and/or suspend any proposal for of allotment of land in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party belonging to the Water Resources Department and maintain status quo and pass such other appropriate order/orders as may deem fit and proper in the interest of justice.”  

The Division Bench of Chief Justice Rashmin Manharbhai Chhaya and Justice Soumitra Saikia observed that the whole petition is based on a newspaper article published on 02.12.2018 in an Assamese newspaper wherein it was alleged that the land in question which belongs to the Water Resource Department has been encroached upon by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh. 

It is averred in the petition that the land in question is in illegal occupation of the Bharatiya Janata Party and due to non-action on the part of the respondent authorities, being a former employee of the Water Resource Department, the sentiments of the petitioner are hurt and he is unable to digest the fact that land of Water Resource Department which was meant for certain project was being encroached upon by the ruling party. 

From the record, the Bench noted that a representation was made to the Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam by the petitioner on 21.01.2019 ventilating his grievances which are put forward in the present petition. However, according to the petitioner, his grievances remain unaddressed till date.

The petition has been filed mainly on the ground that the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh has encroached upon the land belonging to the Water Resource Department. It has been alleged that a similar article was also published in another newspaper on 12.12.2018. However, no action has been taken. 
The record indicated to the Bench  that the petitioner had earlier filed a petition  which came to be withdrawn and thereafter the present petition has been filed. In response to the notice issued by the High Court, the Joint Secretary to the Government of Assam, Revenue & Disaster Management Department has filed an affidavit-in-opposition which reveals that under the provisions of the Land Policy, 1889 read with the provisions of Government Circular No. RSS 47/89/6 dated 3.10.1989, the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (M) sent a proposal to the Revenue & Disaster Management Department on 24.09.2018. As the land was not utilized by the Water Resource Department, it was settled with the Revenue & Disaster Management Department with the approval of the Cabinet by realizing due premium. 

The Court observed that thereafter out of the total land, 4 bighas of land had been given to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh. The affidavit further states that as per the report of the Deputy Commissioner, Kamrup (M), the area of land proposed for settlement in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party is the proposed site for construction of the State Data Centre with a proposal of a 3(three) storied building of 3000 sq. feet area under the National Hydrology Project. 
It has further been averred that the land which was allotted is found to be recorded as ‘Government land’. It has also been averred that land measuring 59 Bighas 4 Kathas 5 Lessas has already been allotted to different Government institutions/organizations in the past.

It has been stated that the total land under occupation of the Water Resource Department is 65 Bighas 0 Kathas 10.5 Lessas even after considering the proposal for settlement of 4 Bighas of land in favour of the present proposal and therefore, the State Data Centre can be set up in any other location within the unutilized portion of land measuring 65 Bighas 0 Kathas 10.5 Lessas presently under occupation of the Water Resource Department without interfering in the proposed settlement of land measuring 4 Bighas to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh. 

The affidavit further averred that as per the land policy and existing circular since the land was unutilized for the purpose so allotted within three years, the land will stand reverted back to the Government automatically. The deponent has also relied upon the relevant notifications/communications on the basis of which the statements have been made in the said affidavit.

The Division Bench noted that the respondent authority has filed an additional affidavit to bring on record the current position and as to how the land has been allotted to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh. It is averred in the affidavit that the same has been filed as per the order dated 26.08.2022 passed by the Court wherein it has been brought on record that on 08.11.2018 a communication has been issued by the Deputy Secretary to the Government of Assam, Revenue & Disaster Management Department regarding settlement of the land in question in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh for construction of office building.

From the said communication, the Bench noted that on 01.12.2018 the possession of the land in question has already been handed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party, Assam Pradesh. It is also noted by the Court that as per the Credit Certificate dated 02.01.2019, an amount of Rs 4,80,00,000/- has been paid by the allottee in the Treasury for the land so allotted to it.  

“The admitted position is that the averments made in the affidavit have not been controverted by the petitioner. On overall examination of the record of the petition, it clearly transpires that the land in question was unutilized as per the land policy and the Government after following due process of law and on examination of proposal made by the allottee has charged a premium of Rs 4,80,00,000 which has been duly paid by the allottee following which physical and actual possession of the land in question has already been handed over to the allottee. We do not find that the Government has acted de hors the provisions of the law applicable. The proceedings therefore deserve to be closed,” the order reads.  

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