Allahabad High Court Judgement

Allahabad High Court Judgement

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JUDGEMENT HEADLINE : ..a High Level Inquiry Should Be Instituted By The State Government To Inquire...and To Ensure.. For The Protection Of The Interest Of The Gram Sabha
JUDGEMENT TITLE : Bodhisatwa Samaj Seva Sansthan U.P. And Another Vs. State Of U.P. And 18 Others On 16/07/2014 By Allahabad High Court
CASE NO : PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) NO. 33088 OF 2014
CORAM : Hon'ble Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud,Chief Justice And Hon'ble Dilip Gupta,J.

HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD

Chief Justice's Court A.F.R.

Case :- PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION (PIL) No. - 33088 Of 2014

Petitioner :- Bodhisatwa Samaj Seva Sansthan U.P. And Another
Respondent :- State Of U.P. And 18 Others
Counsel For Petitioner :- S.K. Mishra,P.K. Singh
Counsel For Respondent :- C.S.C.,Mahesh Narayan Singh

Hon'ble Dr. Dhananjaya Yeshwant Chandrachud,Chief Justice
Hon'ble Dilip Gupta,J.

In These Proceedings, Which Have Been Filed Purportedly In The Public Interest, The Grievance Is That In The Villages Of Jaganpur Afzalpur, Fatehpur Atta And Dankaur Of District Gautam Budh Nagar, A Large Area Of Land Admeasuring 117 Bighas Belonging To The Gram Sabha Has Been Usurped By Third Parties In Collusion With The Officials Of The Government And Of The Consolidation Department.
The Petitioners Seek A Proper Inquiry And The Cancellation Of The Allotments. Moreover, Action Is Sought To Be Invoked Against The Erring Consolidation Officers And Employees Involved In The Fraudulent Allotments Of The Gram Sabha Land. A Reference To The Central Bureau Of Investigation Has Also Been Sought.
In Pursuance Of The Interim Direction That Was Issued By The Division Bench During The Course Of The Summer Recess, An Affidavit Has Been Filed On Behalf Of The State Through The Principal Secretary (Revenue) And The Consolidation Commissioner. It Has Been Stated By The Consolidation Commissioner That By An Order Dated 12 January 2012, A Four Member Committee Was Constituted Comprising Of The Deputy Director Consolidation, Settlement Officer Consolidation, City Magistrate/Incharge Settlement Officer Consolidation, Gautam Budh Nagar And The Consolidation Officer, Jyotiba Phule Nagar For Inquiring Into The Allegations That Irregularities Were Committed In The Allotments Of Chaks By Transferring The Gram Sabha Land To Private Tenure Holders. A Report By The Said Committee Was Submitted On 13 February 2012 And It Was Found That About 117 Bighas Of Gram Sabha Land Had Been Allotted In An Irregular Manner. The Consolidation Commissioner, By A Letter Dated 30 April 2012, Forwarded The Report To The District Magistrate/District Deputy Director Consolidation, Gautam Budh Nagar For Appropriate Action Against The Guilty Officials. The District Magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar Constituted A Three Member Committee Comprising Of The District Deputy Director Consolidation, Additional District Magistrate (E) And The Additional District Magistrate (Land Acquisition), Gautam Budh Nagar. In Its Report Dated 20 September 2012, The Three Member Committee Pointed Out Certain Specific Cases As Well As The Names Of Officials Who Are Responsible For Causing Damage To The Land Belonging To The Gram Sabha. The Report Was Forwarded By The District Magistrate To The Consolidation Commissioner, Lucknow. On 2 April 2013, The Consolidation Commissioner Directed The District Magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar To Submit A Report After Lodging An F.I.R. Against The Guilty Officials/employees And Beneficiaries. In Compliance Thereof, The Assistant Consolidation Officer, Gautam Budh Nagar Lodged An F.I.R. On 18 May 2013 (Case Crime No. 266 Of 2013) Under Section 420 Of The Indian Penal Code Read With Section 3/5 Of The Prevention Of Damage To Public Property Act, 1984. The Investigating Agency Has Submitted Charge Sheets Against Six Persons While The Investigation Against The Remaining Accused Is Under Progress. Disciplinary Proceedings Are Also Stated To Have Been Instituted Against Officials Found To Be Involved By The Report Dated 20 September 2012.
The Counter Affidavit Also States That The Inquiry Report Indicates That 117-3-19 Bighas Of Land Equivalent To 29.640 Hectares Which Belongs To The Gram Sabha Were Wrongly Entered In The Names Of Tenure Holders But As A Result Of Action Taken, 21-16-11 Bighas Of Land Equivalent To 5.521 Hectares Have Been Reverted Back To The Gram Sabha. Proceedings Are Under Way In Respect Of 28-7-01 Bighas Of Land Equivalent To 7.127 Hectares In Which Interim Orders Have Been Passed In Writ Petitions Which Are Pending And Which Are Being Contested By The State.
The Gram Sabha, Jaganpur Afzalpur Has Filed A Revision Under Section 48(1) Of The U.P. Consolidation Of Holdings Act For The Restoration Of Gram Sabha Land Which Was Allowed By The District Deputy Director Consolidation, Gautam Budh Nagar On 14 July 2014 Restoring The Plot Numbers Involved In The Revision. Steps Are Being Taken, It Has Been Stated, For The Recovery Of The Amounts Wrongly Paid To The Tenure Holders. The Collector, Gautam Budh Nagar Has Issued Thirty Eight Recovery Citations Involving Approximately An Amount Of Rs.5.9 Crores.
The Attention Of The Court Has Been Drawn To The Fact That Two Petitions In The Public Interest Were Filed In The Court Dealing With Substantially The Same Subject Matter. One Of Them Is Public Interest Litigation (PIL) No. 52442 Of 20111 In Which The State Has Filed A Counter And Which Is Pending. The Second PIL (33653 Of 2013)2 Was Disposed Of By A Division Bench On 13 June 2013 In Terms Of The Following Directions.
"It Is The Case Of The Petitioner That The Gram Sabha Land Has Been Utilized For The Purpose Of Udan Chak By The Consolidation Authorities, And Even After Publication Of Notification Under Section 52 Of U.P. Consolidation Of Holdings Act, Interpolation Are Being Made Whereby The Said Land Of The Gram Sabha Is Being Recorded In The Name Of Private Persons. The Allegation Are Serious And Do Need Examination By The Consolidation Commissioner, U.P. Lucknow, Respondent No. 2 At The First Instance.
In The Facts And Circumstances Of The Case, Writ Petition Is Finally Disposed Of Permitting The Petitioner To Represent His Grievance Before The Respondent No. 2, Within Two Weeks From Today Along With Certified Copy Of This Order. On Such Representation Being Made, Respondent No. 2 Shall Consider And Decide The Same, Within Four Weeks Thereafter After Obtaining Original Records From The Consolidation Department. It Is Found That Any Fraudulent Entries Have Been Made, The Commissioner Shall Recommend Suitable Action Against All Respondents In The Matter. All Consequential Action Shall Be Taken Accordingly."

The Material Which Has Been Placed On The Record Would Make It Clear That The Allegations In Regard To Unlawful Dispossession Or Usurpation Of Land Belonging To The Gram Sabha Were Attended To Initially By The Consolidation Commissioner And Subsequently By The District Magistrate, Both Of Whom Had Constituted Committees To Carry Out A Factual Verification. The Factual Verification Has, In Fact, Now Disclosed That Over 117 Bighas Of Land, Equivalent To 29.640 Hectares Belonging To The Gram Sabha Were Wrongly Entered In The Name Of Various Tenure Holders. As The Counter Affidavit Would Indicate, Action Which Has Been Taken By The State Government Involves (i) Criminal Investigation Following Which Charge Sheets Have Been Filed Against Six Persons; (ii) Proceedings For The Restoration Of The Land To The Gram Sabha; (iii) Revenue Proceedings For The Restoration Of Plot Numbers In The Name Of Gram Sabha; (iv) The Issuance Of Recovery Citations For The Recovery Of Amounts Wrongly Paid To The Tenure Holders; (v) Steps For Expediting The Hearing Of The Writ Petitions Filed In The High Court; And (vi) Disciplinary Proceedings Against Officials Involved.
Apart From These Steps, Learned Chief Standing Counsel Has Reiterated The Statement Which Has Been Made In The Affidavit That In Order To Deal With The Problems That Have Been Indicated In The Present Case, An Inquiry Would Be Initiated By The State Government.
In Our View, A High Level Inquiry Should Be Instituted By The State Government To Inquire Into All The Facts And Circumstances And To Ensure That Action Is Taken Against All The Errant Officials Including The Beneficiaries For The Protection Of The Interest Of The Gram Sabha.
In Particular, We Would Now Direct That The Principal Secretary (Revenue) Will Personally Monitor The Progress Of The Matter At All Levels. This Would Include (i) Ensuring That The Investigation Against The Remaining Accused Is Concluded Expeditiously And Taken To Its Logical Conclusion; (ii) Action Against All The Errant Officials In The Departmental Enquiries Is Concluded With Utmost Priority; (iii) Proceedings Which Are Pending For Reversion Of The Land To The Gram Sabha Are Pursued With All Vigilance And Expedition; (iv) Recovery Citations Which Have Already Been Issued Are Duly And Effectively Enforced While Recovery Citations In Other Such Cases Are Issued And Enforced; And (v) Due Steps Are Taken For Early Disposal Of The Writ Petitions That Have Been Filed In The High Court By Certain Beneficiaries.
In The Very Nature Of Things It May Not Be Possible For This Court To Monitor On A Day To Day Basis Administrative Compliance Of All The Aforesaid Aspects And That, In Any Event, May Not Be The Appropriate Course Of Action For The Court To Undertake At This Stage Of The Litigation. Since In The Present Case Action Has Been Initiated, The Ends Of Justice Would Be Met By Directing The Principal Secretary (Revenue) To Take All The Necessary Steps To Monitor The Progress Of The Case In All Its Aspects. Where The Cooperation Of The Other Departments Of The State Is Required, The Principal Secretary (Revenue) May Seek Such Cooperation From The Heads Of The Respective Departments And Where Necessary, Appropriate Directions Can Be Obtained From The Chief Secretary Of The State. We Would Also Direct That The Inquiry To Be Initiated At The Level Of The State Government, Should Be By A High Level Committee Having Sufficient Authority And Powers To Ensure That Due And Proper Action Is Taken In The Present Case, And That Where Necessary, Binding Directions Are Issued To Prevent The Loss Of Public Land And Revenue.
In This View Of The Matter, No Useful Purpose Would Be Served In Keeping The Public Interest Petition Pending Any Further. The Above Directions Which Have Been Issued Would Subserve The Ends Of Justice.
The Petition Is, Accordingly, Disposed Of. There Shall Be No Order As To Costs.

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