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HP HC forms SIT to evict encroachers from 100 bighas of forest land

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Press Trust of India Shimla
The Himachal Pradesh High Court today took serious note of delay in removing encroachments from over 100 bighas of state's forest lands and constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) for clearing the encroachents.
Expressing dismay over the delay, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Sanjay Karol said, "The least that was expected of the respondents (government authorities) that they could have evicted by now, if not all, at least majority of the encroachers in 13 cases, wherein encroachment was admittedly found to be on more than 100 bighas of land."

The bench, also having Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan on it, said "the court has been adversely commenting on the functioning of the respondents from time to time," yet they have chosen not to evict even one of the encroachers.
"This only reflects a half-hearted attempt and lack of courage of conviction, requisite departmental desire, determination and will of these officials to implement the court's orders," rued the bench.
Observing that "authorities abysmally lack all the three components to achieve an extraordinary result - a strong will, firm determination and burning desire" the bench said "in the given circumstances it has been left with no other option but to constitute an SIT to carry out eviction in the thirteen cases.
The bench constituted the SIT, comprising Shimla's Additional Deputy Commissioner Debasweta Banik and Police Training College Principal Soumya Sambasivan among others and ordered it to the evict the encroachers from the forest land by the next date of hearing in the case.
The bench further said, The state appear to be under some strange misconception that in all the encroachment cases, the encroacher is entitled to retain 5 bighas of land irrespective of his lawful holding."

"But this court has already clarified from time to time that the maximum of 5 bighas of encroached land would be calculated in such a manner that the total extent of the lawful ownership of the possessor and the land encroached upon does not exceed 10 Bighas and the remaining land, if any, in possession of encroachers shall be vacated, it added.

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First Published: Apr 26 2018 | 10:45 PM IST

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