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Even When Proven Guilty of Illegally Holding Land, Indicted Has To Be Removed Through Process Laid by Law: Himachal Pradesh High Court

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In the case of Bal Mukund Sharma v Divisional Forest Officer and Anr., the Petitioner accused the Respondent of acquiring Petitioner’s ancestral property. The Petitioner alleged that the Respondent then tried to throw him out illegally. However, the Respondent claimed that the Petitioner is holding the land illegally and was conducting construction on it. Thus, actions were taken to stop it. The court held that the petitioner cannot be thrown out except per the law.

Brief Facts of the Case

The Petitioner claimed that the Respondent intended to acquire his ancestral land from him. The Petitioner has owned the said land since 1952-53. The Respondent further tried to throw him out of the land without any lawful procedure. The Petitioner contended that the Respondent cannot throw him out or dispossess of his land.  

Therefore, the Petitioner filed the instant petition. Through the petition, the Petitioner prayed to the court to issue a relevant/mandamus writ or order. The Petitioner first, prayed before the court to restrain the Respondent from taking any action against the land of the Petitioner without following the process laid down by the law. Second, the Petitioner prayed that an order is passed, not interrupting his ownership and possession of the property. Third, to simultaneously prohibit the Respondent from taking his land away from him.

However, the Respondent claimed that the Petitioner is not the owner of the land. Further, the Respondent claimed the Petitioner is illegally holding the land.  

Arguments Made in the Court

The Petitioner prayed that proceedings under Section 163 of the Land Revenue Act should be conducted. 

The Respondent contended that the petitioner did not provide any evidence to confirm his assertion that the property was owned by him. The Respondent further stated that land claimed by the Petitioner to be his belongs to the Department of Forest, Government of Himachal Pradesh.

Further, in the case filed to settle the dispute regarding the ownership of the land, the Petitioner was found to be illegally holding the land. Moreover, it was argued that the Petitioner was trying to build a house there. Hence, the Respondent took action to stop it, as no case of encroachment was pending against the Petitioner. To this end, as no encroachment petition was pending, the Petitioner could not be banished from the property. 

Observations Made by the Court

The Court observed that the person possessing/owning the land cannot be thrown out, except by the procedure laid down by the law. 

To support their observation, the Court referred to a precedent which dealt with a similar matter. The Court quoted the case of Ravinder Kaur Grewal and Ors v. Manjit Kaur and Ors, (2019) 8 SCC 729. It held that ” that a person in possession cannot be ousted by another person except by due procedure of law and once 12 years’ period of adverse possession is over, even owner’s right to eject him is lost and the possessory owner acquires right”

Judgment Given by the Court

Based on the aforementioned statements, the Court allowed the petition. The Respondent was restrained from taking any coercive action in furtherance of coercing the Petitioner out of the disputed land.  

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