The Supreme Court has observed that the unauthorized occupation and possession of land, which was earmarked for school premises/playground, could not be legalized on payment of the market price by such illegal occupants and had set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court as being unsustainable.

The Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna observed that “it cannot be disputed that the original writ petitioners are in illegal and unauthorized occupation of the Gram Panchayat land to the extent of 5 kanal and 4 marla out of 11 kanals and 15 marla reserved for the purpose of the school. As observed hereinabove, there is no playground at all. The school is surrounded by the unauthorized construction made by the original writ petitioners. Therefore, the unauthorized occupation and possession of the land, which is reserved for the school and the playground, cannot be directed to be legalized.

AAG Rakesh Mudgal appeared for the appellant and Advocate Surender Deswal appeared for the respondent.

The case of the appellants was that the respondents were in unauthorized possession of the land which belonged to the Gram Panchayat. Eviction proceedings were initiated under Section 7(2) of the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Act, 1964 and the Assistant Collector passed the ejectment order against the respondents.

Aggrieved by the order, the respondents preferred an appeal before the Collector, Yamuna Nagar, which came to be rejected. A writ petition was preferred before the High Court where the original writ petitioners- respondents had argued that they were ready to give equivalent vacant land in exchange to the Gram Panchayat, which also adjoined the school premises, and which could be utilized as a playground of the school.

Thereafter the High Court, disposed of the writ petition and directed the parties to determine the market value of the land where houses were constructed and wherever the vacant area could be segregated from the residential house, and could be utilised for earmarked purpose, i.e., school premises. Assailing the order of the High Court, appellants approached the High Court.

The Apex Court noted that there was no playground in the school and the school was surrounded by authorised construction and moreover, there was no other panchayati land and/or other land, available, which could be used as school premises / playground.

The Apex Court further said that the direction issued by the High Court to segregate the vacant land from the residential house and use such land as school premises, could not be implemented as “The unauthorized construction is in such a manner and even some areas are not used for residential purpose and some of the area is covered by vegetation and therefore, it is not possible to segregate and separate the same, which can be used for school premises”

Therefore, directions issued by the High Court to legalise the unauthorized occupation and possession made by the original writ petitioners on the land, which was earmarked for school premises / playground was unsustainable and the same deserved to be quashed.

Accordingly, the appeal was allowed.

Cause Title- The State of Haryana & Ors. v. Satpal & Ors.

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