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Supreme Court to hear Haldwani eviction case tomorrow

The Supreme Court has today said that that it will hear the petitions against Haldwani railway land eviction on Thursday, January 5.

A matter was mentioned before the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud by advocate Prashant Bhushan.

“Advocate Bhushan requested to tag their plea along with the railway eviction matter Haldwani which is listed for tomorrow.

CJI has agreed and said yes, it will come up tomorrow.

More than 4,000 families are facing eviction from railway land in Haldwani’s Banbhoolpura area after an Uttarakhand High Court order passed in December 2022 directed the removal of encroachments.

Those facing eviction have been living on the land for many decades.

The people to be evicted claim that the BJP-ruled State government has not put forward their case properly before the High Court due to which the Court ruled in favour of the Railways.

The lead petition said that eviction of the petitioners would render them homeless since they belong to marginalised sections of the society.

The plea said that residents of land belong to economically weaker and marginalised sections of society who have no means to find a new place of residence or livelihood, if evicted on the basis of the impugned judgment and order passed by court.

The petitioner also said that as per the adjudication of title in respect of an immovable property entails exhaustive examination of documents / witnesses, cross-examination of witnesses, review of pleadings etc., cannot be done by the High Court in a summary proceeding under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The matter mentioned by advocate Prashant Bhushan was on behalf of certain residents of Mohalla Nai Basti and Line No. 17 & 18, Banbhulpura (Azad Nagar), Haldwani District Nainital, Uttarakhand for more than 70 years.

The High Court of Uttarakhand had last week directed the respondent authorities (Railways) to evict forthwith the unauthorised occupants to vacate the premises from the railway land adjoining Haldwani Railway Station, commonly called as Gaffur Basti.

“What is important is that for the purposes of a nazul land to be recorded, its recording in the revenue records has had to be as per the provisions contained under Rule 5A of the Nazul Manual, which provides that every transfer by succession, sale, assignment or otherwise, the lessee and the person to whom, the lease rights are so transferred, shall get themselves recorded by filing an application in writing to the Collector or the Nazul Officer, appointed by the Collector for the said purposes”, the Division Bench of Justice Sharad Kumar Sharma and Justice Ramesh Chandra Khulbe noted.

The Court observed that in that eventuality, and particularly from the perspective of the need of the public requirement, a writ of mandamus is required to be issued, thereby directing the following Authorities to ensure the compliance of the judgment by resorting to take an immediate steps to remove the unauthorised occupants from the railways land, which has already been determined by the Court, by use of force, which would be including the assistance to be provided by the local Police, as well as the Railway Protection Force or any other Para Military Force, if at all, it is required to meet any an assessed public rebellion, when the judgment is actually enforced.

Thus, the Secretary, Home, to the State of Uttarakhand, the Director General of Police, to the State of Uttarakhand, the Head of the Railway Protection Force, the District Magistrate, Nainital, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Nainital, and all his subordinate Administrative Executives, are hereby directed by the High Court to use the forces to any extent determining upon need, to evict forthwith the unauthorised occupants after giving them a week’s time to vacate the premises, because otherwise by way of a publication, which directed to be made by the Court, that itself would suffice of giving them advance notice of the probable action to be taken against them.

The Bench further directed that the following actions for eviction of unauthorised occupants, from the railway land, are required to be taken :
i. The Railway Authorities in coordination with the District Administration, and if need be, with any other Para Military Forces, shall immediately, after giving a week’s notice to the occupants over the railways land, ask them to vacate the land within the aforesaid period -.
ii. The service of notice for the purposes of the enforcement of this judgment within the time period as provided aforesaid is to be intimated by paper publication, and by beats of drum in the area of giving message to the local residents, of the probable action to be taken after the expiry of one week’s period as given above.
iii. If the occupants / encroachers, fail to vacate the premises, and land in dispute of the Railways, after being noticed, it will be open for the Railway Authorities, that they in joint coordination with the local Police, District Magistrate, Senior Superintendent of Police and other Para Military Forces, as referred to above, will initiate an immediate action and take a forceful possession of the occupied land from such occupants / encroachers.
iv. The statutory authorities as referred to above, will demolish or remove the unauthorised structures, which have been raised by the encroachers on the railways land, as identified in the body of this judgment, and would forthwith take possession after the expiry of a period of one week as granted above.
v. It will be open for the Railway Authority, that in case, if they are forced to utilize any Force to demolish the structure and to take in possession the property of the railways, unauthorisedly occupied by the encroachers, the cost, which is invested by them in removing the unauthorised occupants, would be recovered from them as an arrear of land revenue.
vi. The Secretary, Home, to the State of Uttarakhand, the Director General of Police, State of Uttarakhand, the Head of the Railway Protection Force, the District Magistrate, Nainital, the Senior Superintendent of Police, Nainital, are expected to ensure to provide full Police Force, to be deployed at the site, after assessing the requirement of Force, to meet any probable contingency by surrounding the area by Armed Forces, including taking care and the protection to the Police Officials and the Staff of the Railways, who would be engaged in the demolition process of illegal structures, standing on the railways land.
vii. The Railway Administration is further directed to initiate an appropriate proceedings as against the erring persons, including the Official of the concerned establishments for not cooperating in the process of eviction, as directed above, and they would also be taken to task for establishment or allowing the encroachers by occupying the land belonging to the Railways, which itself is contemplated under the Indian Railways Works Manual, as provided under its Para 815.
viii. The Railways Administration is directed to initiate an inquiry in order to check the extent of the land boundaries and its verification, and after the encroachers being removed after the aforesaid action, the Railway Administration, would ensure that a proper fencing of the railway property is made by the Railway Administration, and would also ensure by deployment of necessary Forces to resist any future act of encroachment to be made on the railways land, from which, the eviction process as directed above is to be resorted to by the respondents.
“We hope and trust, that the directions given by us after a detailed analysis of the respective rights, would facilitate in ensuring the future railway development, and to curb the menace of encroachment, on the land of the Railways, may be ultimately laid to rest and would be restrained to reoccur in future by the Railways Authorities,” said the Court.

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