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Will never allow regularising encroached lands, says Madras High Court
Munishwar Nath Bhandari said he had come across many cases where the land mafia would use the poor to create a residential area and after the land gets regularised, they would forcibly send out the poor and usurp it. “Therefore, poor remains always poor,” Justice Bhandari said.
Observing that land mafia was misusing poor people to encroach on waterbodies and then evict them after plots get regularised as residential lands, the Madras High Court on Tuesday said it would never pass an order directing the government to regularise encroachments.
Recalling his experience in UP when he was a judge in Allahabad High Court, Chief Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari said he had come across many cases where the land mafia would use the poor to create a residential area and after the land gets regularised, they would forcibly send out the poor and usurp it. “Therefore, poor remains always poor,” Justice Bhandari said.
No one should get an impression that they could encroach waterbodies at will and the court would condone it after five or ten years. “Providing alternate lands to the encroachers also encourages people to occupy waterbodies, grazing lands and other government lands,” he opined.
These observations were made while the first bench of Chief Justice Bhandari and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy heard a contempt petition moved by advocate IH Sekar, seeking action against officials for not complying with the court order directing them to evict encroachments on grazing lands in Bethel Nagar, Injambakkam.
Appearing for the Bethel Nagar Residents’ Welfare Association, senior counsel NGR Prasad said many of the nearly 30,000 residents were living there for about 25 years, adding that they should not be evicted overnight. However, the bench rejected this stating that the court could not reverse its order.
Meanwhile, another counsel submitted that when the court passed orders to remove encroachments in 2015, there were only 111 huts.
Advocate General R Shunmugasundaram informed the court that the government has collected the details of the 2,389 encroachers, which has to be verified to allot accommodation in alternative places.
The bench directed the government to verify the details with documents and file a report within 10 days.
“The encroachers should give an undertaking that they would vacate their premises immediately after the alternative facility is provided,” the court said, and also directed Additional Advocate General J Ravindran to file an action–taken report on removing commercial establishments on the grazing lands in the Bethel Nagar. It then adjourned the matter for 10 days.