Taking cognisance of the encroachments upon the forest land in Dharamsala forest circle, the high court of Himachal Pradesh in its ruling has ordered the eviction of people in 1,090 cases of land encroachments, including 210 cases pertaining to Tibetan people.
Delivering the judgment on the civil writ petition filed by Pawan Kumar on August 3, a bench of justice Deepak Gupta and justice Sanjay Karol has fixed the deadline of eviction as March 31, 2013.
Earlier, during the hearing of the case on July 13, the bench had expressed concern over the encroachment on the forest land not only by Tibetans, but also the Indian citizens and had directed the office of conservator of forest (CoF), Dharamsala circle, to file a detailed affidavit in the court.
In the affidavit filed by CoF Amitabh Gautam, it was revealed that there were as many as 1,090 cases involving an area of 240.2 hectares, which were challaned in the court of DFO-cum-collector under the Himachal Pradesh Public Premises (Rent Recovery and Eviction) Act, 1971.
In 1,058 cases, involving an area of 231.5 hectares, not only eviction orders have been passed, but encroachers have also been evicted from the land.
Terming the revelations made in the affidavit as shocking, the high court bench said in some cases only orders have been passed, but the orders have not been executed, while in some cases appeals have been filed and in others even appeals have not been filed.
The court in its ruling has ordered that in those cases where appeals have not been filed, the eviction orders shall be executed and possession of the land shall be taken over by October 31, 2012.
The judges also maintained that no civil court shall entertain any suit with regard to these lands about which eviction orders have been passed by the competent authority under the above mentioned Act as this act specifically excludes the jurisdiction of the civil court.
"In those cases where appeals have been filed, we direct the appellate authority to dispose of the appeals latest by October 31, 2012," the bench ordered.
Delivering the order on the seven cases wherein land encroachment is over 10 bighas and FIRs have been registered, the court said that mere filing a challan was not sufficient and the act should be commenced forthwith to evict the encroachers from the said land.
"Proceedings should be initiated latest by September 15, 2012, should be conducted on day-to-day basis and completed by March 31, 2013," he said.
Appreciating the efforts of the department for executing the eviction orders in another 1,088 cases, the court said as far as the remaining cases were concerned these should be completed by March 31, 2013.
Making reference of cases of encroachment against Tibetans, the court said the 210 cases of Tibetans would be disposed of by March 31, 2013.
"The cases in which the eviction orders have been passed, but encroachers have not been evicted despite orders will be implemented by March 31, 2013, while cases pending should be disposed of by revenue courts by March 31, 2013," ruled the court.
The bench also directed the principal secretary (forest) to deploy from other divisions at Dharamsala circle specifically to deal with these cases.
Meanwhile, Gautam said the department would be issuing notices to the encroachers and a meeting with all the DFOs concerned had been already convened in this regard. "We will dispose of the cases as per the high court guidelines in a time-bound manner and as per the act," said Gautam.