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Construction on encroached land doesn't give right to land: Delhi HC

The bench also noted that allowing the present petition would unnecessarily hinder the process of removal of encroachers

Friday July 1, 2022 7:00 PM, IANS

Delhi HC

New Delhi: Dealing with an alleged encroachment on a reserved forest area in the national capital, the Delhi High Court has observed that merely because the residents have built structures on that land, this cannot give them any right to continue residing there.

A vacation bench of Justice Sanjeev Narula and Neena Bansal Krishna was hearing a writ petition seeking quashing of a notification by the Delhi's Development Department declaring the land as "reserved forest" under Section 4 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927.

"From the facts narrated in the petition, it is apparent that the petitioners are keenly desirous of holding on to their encroached land. They cannot legally occupy the land in question which vests with the respondents. Merely because the petitioners have built a structure on the petition land, it cannot give them any right to continue residing thereon when the land underneath the said structure does not belong to them," it said in the order.


The bench also noted that allowing the present petition would unnecessarily hinder the process of removal of encroachers.

As per the directions of the Supreme Court, and National Green Tribunal, the Forest Department is now duty-bound to protect the areas and promote forestation, the court said in the order dated June 29.

Rajesh Pathak, counsel for petitioners, submitted that the petition land was initially under the control of the Revenue Department and later declared as forest land.

He contended that despite the petition land being declared as reserved forest in 1994, but the respondents never acted upon the same and petitioners were not made aware of such notification.

Petitioners are the legal owners of the houses erected on the petition land and are duly facilitated with electricity, water supply etc. by government agencies. He also highlighted the Aadhar cards in the same addresses and said petitioners predominantly belong to an economically weaker stratum of society.

On the other hand, Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam argued that petitioners are rank trespassers on public/reserve forest land and are not entitled to any equitable remedy under the writ jurisdiction of this court.

The court said: "We are in agreement with Satyakam that granting a relief to the petitioners, as prayed for, would upset the state of affairs that have been in operation for more than two decades."

It also said there is no room for any doubt as the apex court has clearly held that the Ridge Area needs to be preserved, and no cultivation or any type of construction may be permitted there.


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