Expressing concern about the misuse of forest land in Punjab by ‘vested interests’ for commercial purposes, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the state chief secretary to look into the matter and take suitable action.
“This unauthorised activity needs to be effectively stopped keeping in view statutory provisions and directives of the apex court,” ordered justice Rajan Gupta while dismissing a petition filed by the owner of Sidhu Palace (a marriage palace) after finding it to be illegally constructed on forest land on Nabha Road, Patiala.
The court directed the chief secretary to look into the issue of the sanction of building plan by senior town planner, Patiala and other authorities enabling the petitioner, Inderjit Kaur, to |raise a marriage palace on forest land.
“The possibility that some other marriage palaces have also come by encroaching upon government/forest land cannot be ruled out. If so, such illegality cannot be allowed to be perpetuated. This issue may also be examined by chief secretary, Punjab,” ordered justice Gupta.
Commenting on the case in hand, justice Gupta said, “The apex court has directed that land belonging to forest department cannot be used for any other purposes without prior permission of the Central government. There is, thus, no question of raising a marriage palace on such land. The petition is without any merit and is hereby dismissed.”
The court found that the petitioner had availed sufficient opportunity before authorities rebut the forest department’s case.
However, after examining the material, the Patiala collector concluded that the petitioner needed to be evicted.