The Rajasthan High Court directed the State Government to initiate action to remove the illegal encroachments from the riverbed / land of River Luni expeditiously.
The Division Bench of Justice Vijay Bishnoi and Justice Yogendra Kumar Purohit disposed of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed alleging that illegal constructions/encroachments have been made by several persons on the riverbed/land of River Luni and despite identifying the same, the administration is not taking any action to demolish/remove such illegal construction/encroachments.
The High Court vide order dated 07.09.2020, while taking a serious view about the matter, summoned the District Collector, Barmer as well as the Superintendent of Police, Barmer with a direction to produce the programme of removal of encroachment/demolition over the land of River Luni. The Court further restrained the Civil Court/Revenue Court to entertain any civil suit or civil proceedings pertaining to the encroachments over the land of River Luni and granted liberty to those persons, who have allegedly encroached over the land of River Luni and claiming that they have title over the encroached land and structure constructed thereon, to approach the High Court.
Pursuant to the said order, various persons filed applications for impleading them as party respondent in the petition.
The High Court while taking into consideration the said applications, filed on behalf of various persons, passed the order dated 10.12.2020 on the basis of programme/report filed on behalf of the State Government. In that programme/report, it was mentioned that 20 encroachments falling under category ‘A’ have been successfully removed and the encroachments, as per the action plan ‘B’ and ‘C’, would also be removed within the stipulated period. It was also mentioned in that programme report that the encroachments categorized in ‘D’ category would be removed by 31.12.2020.
Taking into consideration the above facts and circumstances of the case, this Court directed the respondents to remove the encroachments as mentioned in action plan ‘B’ and ‘C’ within stipulated time and also directed to remove the encroachments mentioned in action plan ‘D’ by 31.12.2020 while protecting the persons, who have been identified as encroachers over the land of River Luni, till their applications are pending consideration before the High Court.
Thereafter vide order dated 11.04.2022, the Court observed that it is not possible for this Court to take upon itself the factual enquiry regarding status quo of the applicants, whose applications are pending consideration before this Court for the reason that the process would include recording of oral evidence and perusal of various material on record and, therefore, granted liberty to the applicants to approach the SDM, Balotra within a period of 30 days with further direction to the SDM, Balotra to decide those applications expeditiously within an outer limit of three months.
The High Court also ordered that the protection against dispossession to the 27 applicants will continue subject to the condition that they would file an application before the SDM, Balotra within a period of 30 days. This Court further clarified that if any one of them does not move application before the SDM, the interim protection granted earlier shall automatically come to an end.
Pursuant to the above direction, 41 applications were received by the SDM, Balotra, who have decided all the said applications and as per its decision, out of 41 applications, 19 were allowed and 22 were rejected.
Now, some applications have been filed on behalf of the applicants, whose applications were rejected by the SDM, Balotra, before the High Court claiming that due to the decision taken by SDM, Balotra, their rights over the land will be adversely affected.
Be that as it may, the Court opined that once the SDM, Balotra has taken a decision regarding the status of all the applicants pursuant to the direction given by the Court, the said decision of the SDM, Balotra cannot be looked into by the Court while hearing the petition filed in public interest.
The Bench clarified that the applicants, whose applications were rejected by the SDM, Balotra, can very well challenge the said order by availing appropriate remedy available to them under the law.