Case Name: Suman Bansal vs. Union territory of J&K and Others [WP (C) No. 1062 of 2020]
In a judgement on 1st April, the High Court of Jammu and Kashmir observed that the prosecution must get fair and unbiased treatment and hence, directed the divisional commissioner to form a team of officers, not subordinate to the district commissioner, for demarcation of land according to the provisions of Land Revenue Act.
Facts of the case
In the present case, the disputed land, admeasuring 3 canals and 4 marlas were claimed to be owned by the Petitioner. The land was purchased in Nov. 2007 from different erstwhile owners by way of a registered sale deed. It was also in the name of the Petitioner in the revenue records. This land was prime land and many a time, state and private individuals had claimed it. In August 2019, the Deputy Commissioner of Jammu came along with few other police officers and forcibly demolished the erected boundary wall as well as destroyed the structure made by the Petitioner on the land. The Petitioner was facing a constant threat of eviction from Respondent no. 4 and as a result, filed the writ petition in 2019 for the peaceful possession of the immovable land. Even after the Order of the Court passed on 04.10.2019, for furnishing a report as to the nature of possession of Petitioner over land and to maintain status quo, but the Respondent did not adhere to the orders. Resultant, the Petitioner filed a contempt petition.
While, both the contempt and the writ petition were pending, the Respondent according to the government Order gave the proprietary land which was in the possession of the Petitioner at lease to 61 families of two villages for rehabilitation due to the expansion of Jammu Airport. Another, the writ petition was filed by the Petitioner in 2020 challenging the government Order on the ground that the proprietary land of the Petitioner could not be taken over otherwise, by following due process of law. The Petitioner, here, has prayed for the writ of certiorari and mandamus.
Pleadings before the Court
It was submitted by the learned counsel on behalf of the Petitioner that the land on which the impugned Government Order was based on the land, which the petitioner owned and possessed by properly executed and recorded selling deeds and subsequent mutations attested by qualified revenue officers. It was further submitted that it was correct that she did not own any property in Khasra No.833 of village Sunjwan, but the land that the Respondents have defined in accordance with the impugned Government order was actually the land that the Petitioner owned.
On the other hand, it was submitted by the learned counsel on behalf of the Respondent that the Respondents have not touched, allotted, or put to any use the land that was the subject of the writ petitions, and there was no plan to do so in the near future. The land measuring 32 kanals in Khasra No.833 of village Sunjwan was said to be State land, which has been properly designated and allocated to the 61 displaced families due to the airport expansion. It was further submitted that the land that was the subject of the writ petitions and believed to be the Petitioner’s proprietary land was not the same as the land that has been allotted to the displaced families. As a result, the Petitioner should have no grievances about the challenged Government Order.
It was observed by the Court that a revenue officer might identify the limits of any estate, or any holdings, tenancy, area, or other portion of the estate, on the application of any individual concerned, and might require survey-marks to be erected or repaired for the purpose of indicating those limits under Section 94 of the Land Revenue Act. Under Section 95 of the act, If the revenue officer feels that either of the parties to the proceedings was previously in lawful possession of the demarcated land and was evicted within six months of the date of his order, he might direct that the party evicted be placed in possession of the land. Also, Section 94 and 95 of the act are the statutory provisions.
It was further observed that in particular circumstances, where there was a serious dispute of the identity of immovable property between the Petitioner and the Respondent, which needs to be resolved for the satisfaction of both the parties and the petitioner should get fair and unbiased treatment.
In this case, the court disposed of the petitions by ordering the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, to make a team of officers of the position of Assistant Commissioner that are above, to the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, to demarcate the land within three weeks. This should be done in accordance with the Land Revenue Act and in the presence of all stakeholders.
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