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Patna High Court dismisses plea seeking directions to remove encroachment from public lands

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The Patna High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking directions for removal of encroachments. 

The Bihar Public Land Encroachment Act, 1956 provides remedy for removal of encroachment from public lands.

Section 4 of the Act allows an opportunity to the noticee (petitioner) to raise any defense which they could have raised if they were defendants in a properly framed suit for removal of encroachment.

The Act also provides an opportunity of hearing under Section 5; as well as the consequences of non-appearance in the proceedings, the Division Bench of Chief Justice K. Vinod Chandran and Justice Madhuresh Prasad observed.

After observing the above procedure that final order is to be passed by the Collector under Section 6 of the Act, either dropping the proceedings or passing orders for ensuring removal of encroachment, damages or otherwise.

The order of the Collector for removing encroachment is also subject to appeal under Section 11 of the Act. Section 13 of the Act also provides an opportunity of review in case of any mistake or error in the course of any proceedings , the Bench further observed.

The issue raised by the petitioner is essentially an issue falling within the scope and ambit of the Act. The writ petition, by way of a PIL, therefore, in the opinion of the Court, is misconceived. If the instant case were to be entertained as a PIL, then all issues of encroachment would be required to be dealt with by the Court as a PIL.

The Bench find that no public interest concerning any marginalised/weaker/inarticulate section of society having been espoused in the instant writ proceedings, so as to allow the petitioner to bypass the statutory remedy whereby and whereunder the alleged encroachers of the public lands would be dealt with in a fair procedure, and leave it open for the petitioner to pursue remedy in accordance with law.

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