The Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled that ownership of shamlat village land should vest with the owners only, and not the village panchayat, which in the case of Gwal Pahari was replaced by the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) in 2010.
The high court released its judgment on Monday, nearly nine months after it was pronounced the same on the petition of Suraj Bhan and ASF Buildwell that has its SEZ project in Gwal Pahari.
The five-judge bench kept its judgment reserved for nearly nine months. The judgment means that the MCG would have to pay compensation at the present market rate if it intends to acquire the land.
Situated in the foothills of Aravalli, Gwal Pahari comes under Gurgaon district and is close to New Delhi and Faridabad. The vitality of the location had prompted several real estate developers to base their establishments there.
“The judgment was released on April 24. I advocated on behalf of ASF Buildwell. After a marathon exercise of a month or more of research work, I argued before the bench that land owners are being deprived of their ownership. There are various kinds of shamlat land such as mustarka malkan, khud kast, etc. The bench noted our argument that there are certain and purely shamlat land such as river, darra, pond, hill etc., that cannot be reverted. The 464 acres in Gwal Pahari belong to owners, the court said. The court said if the MCG wants to acquire owners’ land, it will have to pay compensation as per the Constitution,” said Punit Bali, senior advocate.
Bali said, “The judgment will certainly have a bearing on all other related cases in the high court and elsewhere. The land in question in Gwal Pahari was owned by villagers who contributed it to the panchayat for agrarian development. Now it is in the municipal limit and so it has not remained agrarian in nature. In that case, it would revert to actual owners. In case, the MCG wants to acquire it, then as per the Constitution, the civic body will have to pay compensation for urban development.”
The judgment says a person, who is in enjoyment and use of his property as owner, is not liable to be deprived of the same without payment of compensation, especially when it is not shown or indicated to be used towards implementation of the directive principles of the state policy for agrarian reforms so as to have the protective shield of Article 31A.
“The determination of compensation is to be done in accordance with law providing for acquisition of property by the state. Article 300A of the Constitution fully applies to the present controversy inasmuch as no person is to be deprived of his property say by an authority of law,” the judgment said.
The lawyers’ team argued that Gwal Pahari dispute is an old issues and, as per the revenue records of 1939, it was collective land (mushtarkha malkan) and due to a stray entry, it was changed to shyamlat land in 1955. Further, in 1994, it was partitioned as per order of Harbhakah Singh, then district collector of Gurgaon.
After Harbhakah Singh partitioned the land, the Haryana government allotted licences to BSF for developing a private colony.
“The MCG came into title dispute in 2010, when the high court directed the district collector Gurgaon to decide the title of the land when it was mutated to the MCG. In July 2014, FCR Haryana YS Malik set aside the MCG mutation. About a year later, the land was mutated in the name of MCG. This mutation was termed invalid by TL Satyaprakash, former DC Gurgaon, and he forwarded his observation to the Haryana government for legal opinion,” the lawyer said.
In February, divisional commissioner Gurgaon D Suresh set aside the order of Satyaprakash and the MCG followed it up with an eviction drive in the disputed land.
“The judgement is under consideration of the state government,” said MCG Commissioner V Umashankar. He said he could comment on the issue only after that.