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Gujarat HC: Court Observes Error Of Additional District Judge Who Shifted The Burden On The Railway Authorities To Establish Their Legal Right To Initiate Eviction Proceedings, Quashes Order, Urges For Fresh Order

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In this Case, Multiple Petitions were filed by the Railway Authorities, in the proceedings initiated under the provisions of the Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1971 (“the PPE Act” for short). The dispute pertains to unauthorised construction of shops and encroachment on the land belonging to Railways and around the area of Netrang Railway Station.

The alleged illegal occupants were issued with a notice under the PPE Act. The Estate Officer in 2018 passed an order of eviction. The order of eviction was challenged by the alleged unauthorised occupants before the District Court, and the District Court in appeal proceedings passed an order in 2018 setting aside the eviction order of Estate Officer in 2015. It is this order in the respective petitions passed by the District Court in appeal proceedings, which is the subject matter of challenge in these Multiple Petitions.

Arguments Advanced

The Petitioners submitted that the Additional District Judge has fallen in error in allowing the appeal without considering the facts on record especially revenue entries with regard to land in question which indicate that the land was acquired by the Railways way back in the year 1953 and the effect of acquisition was also given by mutation in the revenue record in 1953. Also that the eviction proceedings were initiated against total 143 persons, of which only 17 persons have objected to eviction proceedings where the rest of the unauthorised occupants have accepted the decision of Estate Officer and have vacated the railway land of Netrang Railway Station along with other submissions. While the Respondents argue that the Railways have, in the original proceedings, failed to produce any document to substantiate their ownership of the land, where the shop of the respondent has abutted the railway land.

Decision of the Court

The Court while giving its decision found that the Railways have not established ownership of the land in question, clearly is unwarranted. The exercise was undertaken by the Public Premises Eviction Officer, where sufficient opportunity was provided to the alleged illegal occupant to produce any document to establish their any right to be in occupation of the land in question and where, before the original proceedings, the alleged illegal occupant has not discharged his burden in response to the show-cause notice. The Court further observed that the Additional District Judge had fallen in error by shifting the burden on the Railway authorities to establish their legal right to initiate eviction proceedings, and hence order is quashed and a new order is welcomed by the ADJ.

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