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B.L. WADHERA Versus UNION OF INDIA & ORS.

2002 (4) TMI 975 - SUPREME COURT

Writ Petition (civil) 179 of 1999 - Dated:- 19-4-2002 - R.P. Sethi & K.G. Balakrishnan, JJ. JUDGMENT SETHI,J. The respondent No.7, who is admittedly a leader of national stature, a reputed Member of Parliament for years and a former Prime Minister of the country is accused of usurping about 600 acres of land in Village Bhondsi of the State of Haryana by manipulations and resort to exercise of his political influence. Moved by an article "Lord of the Land" published in India Today o .....

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e Trust of which he is the Chairman. It is submitted that the conferment of largesse upon the aforesaid respondent is against the provisions of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulations) Act, 1961, the Rules made thereunder, Indian Forest Act and the Forest Conservation Act, 1980. In the article "Lord of the Land" published in India Today, it was stated that after the respondent No.7 completed his so-called Bharat Yatra in 1983, he formed the Trust known as "Bharat Yatra Kendra .....

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ich the land was apparently donated, the respondent No.7 built a sprawling farm-house where he used to retire for weekends even when he was the Prime Minister. When 10 acres of land bordering one end of the Firing Range of the BSF was occupied by the respondent No.7, complaints are alleged to have been despatched vide letter dated 9.4.1990 and matter brought to the notice of the Gurgaon District Commissioner on 20.11.1990. No action was taken. 500 acres of land which was apparently given to BYK .....

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rom the BSF. Perhaps that's why Chandra Shekhar too is not bothered. He wasn't then and he isn't now". Based upon information, as disclosed in the article published in India Today, the petitioner moved this Court alleging that Bhondsi Gram Panchayat, by a Resolution, gifted 33 acres of Gram Panchayat land to respondent No.7 for construction of a Hospital which was endorsed by the Haryana Government on 22nd March, 1984. At that time Shri Chander Shekhar was a Member of Parliament .....

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for building Hospital and a Polytechnic for women. Instead of Hospital and Polytechnic, the respondent No.7 is alleged to have constructed a sprawling farm-house where 35 cows yielding 83 litres of milk everyday are kept. A multi-storeyed Conference Complex, a guest house and a temple are stated to have been built on the said land. Allegations regarding encroachment of the BSF land, as mentioned in the article published in India Today, were repeated. As neither the Central Government, nor the St .....

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Haryana during 1969 and years thereafter. Subsequently 25th Batallion was assigned the responsibility of imparting basic training to 500 recruits per year. To ensure proper training to the recruits it was felt necessary to have proper training area and also a full-fledged classification firing range as per laid down specifications. BSF established training centre and users trial centre at Bhondsi, where new instruments/ weapons/electronic gadgetry are tested before introducing in various forces. .....

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reported to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon time and again but no action was taken till 15.2.2000. 25th Batallion of BSF again approached Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon on 15.2.2000 who directed the revenue authorities to demarcate the encroached land. Revenue authorities measured the encroached land and identified the same. The BSF officials took over the possession of that land on the said date. It may be noticed that the land of the BSF which was encroached upon by the respondent No.7 was vac .....

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per Condition No.1 laid down by State Government in its order, the respondent No.7 was to construct a civil dispensary building consisting of 3 rooms with verandah. Vide another Resolution No.55 dated 8.12.1989 the Gram Panchayat proposed to gift 18 acres 7 kanals and 9 marlas of its land to respondent No.7 which was also approved by the State Government vide its order dated 26th June, 1990. This land was gifted by the Gram Panchayat for construction/ establishing Polytechnic for women. Thereaf .....

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.3 and 4 land measuring 52 acres 6 kanas and 15 marlas of the Gram Panchayat has been gifted to respondent No.7. It is submitted that upon demarcation of Border Security Force land, the respondent No.7 was found to be in possession of the BSF land measuring 8 acres 3 kanals and 7 marlas, the possession of which was delivered to BSF on 16.2.2000. It is claimed that condition for construction of building consisting of three rooms has been fulfilled by respondent No.1 as it has constructed a dispen .....

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a women Polytechnic under the name and style of "Stree Niketan" has already been established in the year 1992 and the same is providing employment oriented training to women from rural areas as well as the weaker sections of the society in the field of weaving, pottery, embroidery, food processing, etc. It is admitted that the current rate of the land gifted to respondent No.7 was about ₹ 2 lakhs per acre but, it is submitted that the value of the land is not 12 crores as allege .....

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espondent No.7. The condition of construction of dispensary building consisting of three rooms with verandah is stated to have been complied with by the respondent No.7 by construction of building for civil dispensary in the area of Village Bhondsi though not in the land gifted. Resolution No.57 dated 11.12.1980 resolving to gift 16 acres 7 kanalas and 8 marals was never acted upon and the said land continues to be in the ownership of Gram Panchayat. The respondent No.7 is stated to have informe .....

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ing work on 500 acres of land of the Gram Panchayat by planting trees and making the Aravalli Hills green. The action of the Gram Panchayat is stated to be in accordance with law. In the affidavit filed on behalf of respondent No.7, Shri Chander Shekhar, the Prsident of Trust, it is submitted that the writ petition is based entirely on the write-up which was published in the Weekly India Today on January 18, 1999. The petitioner is stated to have no other source of information and has approached .....

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endetta inasmuch as during the enquiry into the conspiracy angle relating to the assassination of late Rajiv Gandhi, the former Prime Minister of India by commonly known as the Jain Commission, the petitioner while recording of evidence had himself cross-examined the deponent and was agitated due to the replies. He personally preferred an application before the Jain Commission for certain reliefs. The petitioner is accused of not prosecuting bonafide litigation but in the name of public interest .....

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t. None of the villagers who are stated to be the beneficiaries of the programmes undertaken by the Trust have any grievance with regard to donation of the land by the Gram Panchayat in favour of respondent No.7. The Government was satisfied before according the approval for making the gift of the land by the Gram Panchayat. The Trust is stated to have been established on 23rd September, 1983 with the Registrar of Delhi as a Public Charitable Trust vide Registration No.3428, Block No.4, Volume N .....

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distance of 4260 kilomerters on foot from Kanyakumari to Rajghat. Inspired by the programmes and objectives of the Trust, the members of the Gram Panchayat of Village Bhondsi met the deponent and urged him to undertake the development programmes in their area. The Gram Panchayat undertook to extend all possible help to the Trust in achieving its aims and objectives. Consequent to the discussions, the Gram Panchayat vide Resolution No.55 dated 22.10.1983, pursuant to an application by the Trust, .....

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nd to the Trust subject to the conditions incorporated in the order. One of the conditions was that "the land will be got released from the Forest Department through proper channel". Pursuant to the order of the Government of Haryana, Gram Panchayat executed the gift deed on 30th March, 1984 which was duly registered. Since the land, gifted to the Trust was far away from the village, the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat, Bhondsi held discussions with the Trust and urged to construct the .....

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which approved the gift of the land as well as to achieve the other aims and objectives mentioned in the Trust Deed. The foundation stone of dispensary was laid down on 10.6.1985 and the dispensary was constructed as per specifications contained in the order of the Government. After completion of the building for dispensary, it was inaugurated by Shri Devi Lal, the then Chief Minister of Haryana on 6.8.1989. Thereafter the dispensary was handed over to the Government and the same is now managed .....

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me, was a ravine land embedded with sand dunes. The rain water was being wasted and used to cause a lot of soil erosion. The Trust is stated to have constructed the earthen dam to collect the rain water, which was not only being wasted but also used to cause floods and play havoc in the village and surrounding areas. The construction of such a dam prevented the floods which earlier used to be the order of the day. The Trust claims to have dug the tubewells in that area and laid a water supply pi .....

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er the name and style of "Stree Niketan" was started in the year 1992 which provided the employment oriented training to women from rural areas and from the weaker sections of the society in the field of weaving, pottery, embroidery, food processing, etc. The Trust claims to have complied with all the conditions stipulated in the order dated 22.3.1984 approving the gift of land measuring 271 kanals 6 marlas. Regarding land measuring 19 acres donated to the Trust in the year 1990 it is .....

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6 lakhs on the building and machinery of "Stree Niketan Polytechnic". The Trust claims to have paid a stipend salary and wages amounting to ₹ 2,92,826/-, ₹ 4,50,011, ₹ 4,77,182/-, ₹ 2,07,329/- and ₹ 2,12,986/- for the year ending 1993 to 1997 respectively. The Trust received the grant of ₹ 20,38,500/- from NABARD during the year ending 31.3.1993, ₹ 5,37,750/- during the year ending 31.3.1994 and ₹ 3,44,750/- during the year ending 31.3.19 .....

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it is stated that since some dispute had been raised, the Trust took up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon for demarcation of the land so that the dispute could be resolved for which an application was made in the year 1994. Even though Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon vide his order dated 29.7.1994 directed the Naib Tehsildar, Sohna to demarcate the land yet no action was taken by the Revenue authorities. So far as 500 acres of land is concerned, it is submitted that the same belongs .....

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ional Waste Land Board, Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India and this grant has been used for raising nursery, planting of trees, etc. The said patch of land was rocky and hilly and there was no provision for water. The Trust made efforts in arranging to lift the water from the plain areas, stored it in the tanks to provide for irrigation facilities. The Trust claims to have made the entire area as an exemplary model by its serious efforts, hard work and changed the barren, dry lan .....

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. The deponent has denied of encroachment on any piece of land which did not lawfully belong to the Trust. It is submitted that it was wrong to contend that the deponent has built a farm-house, multi- storeyed conference complex, guest house and a temple on the land gifted by the Gram Panchayat. According to him the true position is that the Trust has constructed building for Stree Niketan by spending ₹ 33.76 lakhs. The 52 acres of land, gifted to the respondent, was never intended to be u .....

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conditions mentioned in the Government order. The Trust is stated to be an income-tax assessee. The sources of funds of the Trust are reflected in its books of accounts which are duly audited. It is claimed that besides the two lands being 33 acres and 19 acres no other land was gifted by the Gram Panchayat to the respondent Trust. The respondent Trust has not misused the land as alleged. The deponent states that he has never used any influence with any authorities for getting any favour for hi .....

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ndent No.7. He has claimed to be an activist of public interest litigation having filed large number of petitions in public interest, many of which were considered and decided by this Court and the High Court of Delhi. He claims to have nothing else in the mind except the interests of the public while filing the petition. He admits that the petition in fact was filed on the story published in India Today but contends that as per direction of this Court he collected further information and docume .....

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se by way of grant of land was illegal, being against the mandatory provisions of the statute applicable in the case. The gifting of land in controversy is alleged to be violative of the provisions of Section 5A of the Punjab Common Land (Regulations) Act, 1961 (hereinafter referred to as "the Act"), the transfer has been termed to be illegal and void-ab-initio. The respondent-State and the Gram Panchayat are also alleged to have violated Rule 13 of the Punjab Village Common (Regulatio .....

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Haryana have been termed to be non-existent. The land having been described as forest land is claimed to be under the protective umbrella of Forest Conversation Act which could not be transferred by any means to any person. Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 is stated to have been violated. Under the said section no State Government can pass any order with respect to any forest land or portion thereof to any other person or authority. No prior approval of the Central Government is st .....

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. The transfer of the land, the resolutions passed in relation thereto and orders passed by the State Government sanctioning transfers being against the provisions of law deserve to be quashed. The gifts of the land is also stated to be in violation of the provisions of Section 122 and 123 of the Transfer of Property Act as the respondents have not placed on record any registered instrument showing the execution of a formal, valid and legal gift deed. It is conceded that after the filing of the .....

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the petitioner, respondent No.7 and the State of Haryana sought opportunity to file additional affidavits in view of the averments made in the said rejoinder. This Court vide its order dated 4.9.2000 allowed the prayer and permitted the State of Haryana and respondent No.7 to file the additional affidavits, if they so desire. In the additional affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent No.3 it is submitted that pursuant to resolutions passed by the Gram Panchayat, the State Government accorded .....

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No.7 has "till date not duly complied with the conditions". On the basis of the said information, received from the Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, the State Government has issued a show cause notice on 26.7.2000 to respondent No.7 as to why the sanction issued by the Government vide Order No.S.2/90/37308-11 dated 28.6.1990 be withdrawn and possession of the land in question be restored to the Gram Panchayat. In his additional affidavit Shri Chander Shekhar has reiterated what he had sub .....

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ans. It is claimed that between 1983 to 1990, the Trust has undertaken the task defined by it in lands made available to it in various parts of India. The Trust has undertaken activities on the land which has resulted in arresting the soil erosion, raising of water levels, construction of water reservoirs and roads. In terms of the conditions of the gift, the Trust claimed to have built a village dispensary which has enabled the residents of the area to regularly obtain medical facilities. It is .....

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g made. The forest land measuring 500 acres is claimed to have been developed by the Trust where thousands of peacocks, pigeons, birds, jackals, foxes and blue bull can be seen in the area on regular basis. Narration of facts would be incomplete without reference to the report of the Committee appointed in terms of this order Court's dated 13th March, 2001. In pursuance to our orders, the Home Secretary of the Central Government had nominated Dr.Rakesh Hooja, Joint Secretary (K.I), Ministry .....

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.6.1990 (endorsed on 28.6.90 to all those concerned) which relates to 18 acres 7 kanals and 9 marlas. The land had been gifted to Bharat Yatra Kendra Trust (hereinafter referred to as BYK Trust) for construction of College and Polytechnic. With regard to this land the State Govt. has issued a show cause notice on 26.7.2000 to the BYK Trust as to why, since all conditions have not been fulfilled, the State Govt. sanction of 28.6.1990 should not be withdrawn and possession of land in question not .....

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of rooms of "offices", a hall where a potter was at work who claimed he occasionally also "taught" some children pottery, some rooms containing some wooden looms and spinning/weaving equipment which had not been used for a very long time, bathrooms, a couple of side rooms where some women were being taught tailoring, a room containing old unused tailoring machines etc. The structures did not appear to have been designed for a polytechnic and/or college. The women's train .....

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s vacated - the exact dimensions of which shall become known only after the demarcation/kayami ordered by the Deputy Commissioner on 29.3.2001 (copy of order enclosed as Annexure B) gets completed (this is likely by 4.4.2001 as per the order of Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon). The State Governments order of 6.6.1990 endorsed on 28.6.1990 clearly states that land will be used for the purpose it has been gifted otherwise Panchayat will take back possession. The land is not being used for either a co .....

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t became obvious while we were inspecting the above mentioned site that some parts of the land about which Gram Panchayat Bhondsi had passed resolution No.57 dated 11.12.1990 but which was never referred to State Government and whose ownership is still of the Gram Panchayat are in possession of the BYK Trust and inside its boundary walls. A perusal of the enclosed visual sketch map where the legend calls this land as "Land of Panchayat in possession of BYK" gives an indication of how t .....

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ver transferred to BYK Trust is in possession of the Trust. The State Government could be advised to ensure that once demarcation is done the possession land of panchayat presently in possession of the Trust be got delivered to the Gram Panchayat. We then proceeded to the land regarding which Gram Panchayat had resolved vide Resolution No.55 dated 23.10.1983 on which State Government had given its approval vide its order dated 3.3.1984 endorsed to concerned persons on 22.3.1984 whereby 33 acres .....

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anied us throughout our visit on this land and on the visit subsequently to the forested land as described later. One of the conditions in the Government order dated 3.3.1984 states that Bharat Yatra Kendra Trust will construct a Civil Dispensary Building consisting of 3 rooms with verandah. No such dispensary has been constructed on this land. Mr.Sood of BYK Trust indicated verbally that, on the the request of the Panchayat, the Trust had instead constructed a civil dispensary and verandah in t .....

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lacs plus ₹ 1 lacs plus ₹ 0.50 lacs from CM Relief Fund for the dispensary and that he believed ₹ 0.50 lacs had been returned by the Trust. It is for State Government to determine whether the Trust actually constructed the dispensary on the land of panchayat Bhawan in the main abadi of Bhondsi village and also that if, even though no dispensary at all has been constructed on the entire piece of land gifted to the Trust as per the order of 3.3.1984, it can be construed that the .....

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conference room, the Asoka Mehta Building which is a largish complex apparently meant for conference and library etc., along with air conditioned rooms meant for visitors, a building reportedly being used by Sh.Chandrashekhar ex-Prime Minister, nearby smaller living building (reportedly for SPG staff etc. a "guest house where trustees of BYK Trust stay, some smaller structures including near the gate and a couple of building containing more than one stories referred to as staff residences/ .....

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yat land in possession of the Trust. However the exact position in this regard would only be come clear once the demarcation and kayami ordered by Deputy Commissioner Gurgaon on 29th March, 2001 is completed. A significant position of this land pertaining to the government order of 22.3.1984 is vacant and the exact area may be determined only once the demarcation/kayami is completed. One of the conditions in order of State Government dated 22.3.1984 is that the land will be used for the purposes .....

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State Government on 26.7.2000 and cited earlier by us only refers to the land as per Government Order dated 28.6.1990, the Deputy Commissioner Gurgaon had on 210.7.2000 written Special Secretary to the Government of Haryana Development and Panchayat Department that for both the lands vide Government Order of 22.3.1984 and vide Government Order dated 28.6.1990 the conditions in the Government orders had not been fully complied with. The Gram Panchayat had also passed a resolution No.53 dated 8-11 .....

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this land which was already afforested the BYK Trust has undertaken some plantation work. The understanding seems to be that BYK Trust would plant and maintain afforestation on behalf of the Gram Panchayat. We visited a part of this land, which is primarily on hillside and hilltop. BYK Trust has built a road on to the site which presently passes through land earlier in possession of BYK Trust but now restored to the Border Security Force. The BSF has constructed a boundary wall on the land rest .....

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the road some plantation has been done and some pipes for watering of plants have been installed. It appears that the land was already afforested and some supplementation has been done by BYK Trust along with the Trust having enclosed the land with a stone well. The land also has a temple with a large statue. We could not visit the statue during our visit. Reportedly near the temple there is a structure referred to as "Dharamshala". This also could not be visited by the team. It is no .....

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6 acres 3 kanals and 10 marlas which was in possession of the respondent Trust had never been transferred to it. The Committee further found: "In the forest area which has been enclosed by the trust 3 rooms have been constructed at different places which are reportedly used by the watch and ward staff of Bharat Yatra Kendra. Details of the 388 acres 3 canals and 12 marlas are at page 65 to 69 of Annexure E only. Land for Forest Area enclosed with the compound of land for dispensary From the .....

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go, Sohna (Annexure E) read with pages 55 to 59 pertaining to Khasra Numbers 130 and 130. Gair Mumkin Nallah land There is also a nallah on the Khasra No.279. Out of area of 9 acres 3 kanals 7 marlas of this khasra which is entered as Gairmumkin Nallah in the record and therefore which is panchayat land, 8 acres 2 marlas of this nallah is under possession of Bharat Yatra Kendra. Based on the demarcation executed by the Revenue authority they reported that 4 kanal 5 marlas of this land was being .....

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received by us through Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, the report also contains land use area summaries for each of the above mention lands (Page 71 to 79 of Kanoongo's report). Copy of Ak Sajra received from Deputy Commissioner is also enclosed along with the Kanoongo's report which is at Annexure E." We have heard learned counsel appearing for the parties at length and minutely examined the record produced in the case. Mr.U.U. Lalit, Advocate, learned amicus curaie submitted that th .....

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tent with the provisions of law and thus not legally permissible. No prior approval of the State or the Central Government was obtained with respect to the forest land. The gift deeds are alleged to have been executed even in violation of the approval of the State Government. It is contended that after incorporation of Sections 5A and 5B gift of the common land, vesting in the Gram Panchayat could be made only in favour of the specified categories and for the benefit of the inhabitants. The proc .....

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ingh, learned counsel who appeared for the Gram Panchayat submitted that 500 acres of land, after afforestation, has been returned to the State Government as per direction of the court. He has submitted that the aforesaid land be handed over to Gram Panchayat. The learned counsel has also justified the action of the Gram Panchayat in making the gifts of the lands to the respondent No.7. Mr.Kapil Sibal, learned Senior Advocate, who appeared on behalf of the respondent No.7 has submitted that mere .....

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ernment and the terms of the gift deeds have been complied with by respondent No.7. It is submitted that land measuring 500 acres has been returned back after afforestation and according to him no dispensary was required to be built in the land gifted to respondent No.7. The only condition precedent was for the construction of a dispensary in the village which stands fully complied with. The condition for establishment of the polytechnic college is also stated to have been fulfilled. The land gi .....

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dent No.7 in his counter affidavit had challenged the locus standi of the petitioner to file the writ petition and its non-maintainability in public interest, yet during the arguments heard for two days no objection has been raised either regarding the locus of the petitioner or the maintainability of the writ petition filed in this Court under Article 32 of the Constitution. In this petition the controversy relates to the following pieces of lands: i) Land measuring 271 kanals 6 marlas = 33 acr .....

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e Government was granted on 6th June, 1990 subject to the conditions specified therein. iii) Land measuring 500 acres which was transferred by the Gram Panchayat vide its Resolutions dated 8.11.1990 and 26.7.1994 to the Trust for the purpose of plantation of trees. This transfer was never approved by the State Government. iv) Land measuring about 17 acres resolved to be transferred to the Trust vide Gram Panchayat Resolution dated 11.12.1990. The aforesaid resolution never reached the State Gove .....

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ot in possession of the land and the land belonged to the Gram Panchayat. Considering the aforesaid statement, learned counsel appearing for the State of Haryana was directed to take possession of the land immediately and put proper guards and security so that the trees which were stated to have been planted over the said land are not damaged or destroyed. Pending further orders, the State Government was ordered not to allot the aforesaid land to anyone except with the prior permission of the Ce .....

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e Court comprising of Central/State Government officers have taken over the possession and hence complied with the orders. The possession of the pucca structure was handed over to the Tehsildar, Sohna and the trees/plantation to the DFO(T), Gurgaon. So far as land mentioned in Item No.(v) is concerned, it has come on record that after proper identification, the land has been returned to the BSF. Regarding land measuring about 17 acres mentioned in Item No.(iv), the respondent No.7 initially took .....

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other lands mentioned in the petition may have been inadvertently included in the Trust's land. This land can be taken back by panchayat whenever it wants." Again in the additional affidavit filed on behalf of respondent No.7 it is submitted: "That the deponent also wants to point out that it has been wrongly alleged in the reports of the Two Member Committee that land measuring 17 acres was found under illegal occupation of the Trust. It is submitted that the said land was also p .....

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rd itself. The other 7 acres are still with the Trust as it falls under small pockets within the other lands gifted to the Trust. In case the approval is not given by the State Government, the Village Panchayat can take back the possession of the said land." From the inconsistent pleas raised and in the light of the latest affidavit filed on behalf of the respondent No.7, it is held that the Trust has no right or interest in the said land measuring about 17 acres and is liable to return it .....

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n shamlat deh and abadi deh in the then State of Punjab which, after the formation of new State of Haryana, was also made applicable to it. Shamlat deh, as defined under Section 2(g) of the Act includes: "1. Lands described in the revenue records as Shamilat Deh or (Charand-in Hr) excluding abadi deh. 2. Shamilat tikkas; 2A. was Shamlat deh, but has been allotted on quasi-permanent basis to a displaced person, or, has been otherwise transferred to any person by sale or by any other manner w .....

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d situate in abadi deh or gora deh not owned by any person - in Har. only): 5. Lands in any village described as banjar qadim and used for common purposes of the village according to revenue records; Provided that Shamilat deh at least to the extent of twenty-five per centum of the total area of the village does not exist in the village; in Haryana only): Section 3 provides that the Act shall apply and before the commencement of the Act the shamlat law shall be deemed always to have been applied .....

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cement of the Amendment Act, shall cease and all such rights, title and interest vest in the person or persons in whom they were vested immediately before the commencement of shamlat law. Where any land has vested in the Panchayat under the Act, but has been excluded from shamlat deh, all rights, title and interest of the Panchayat in such land as from the commencement of the Act shall cease and all such right, title and interest shall, on or before the 9th day of July, 1985 revert in the person .....

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Panchayat for the benefit of the inhabitant of the village concerned in the manner prescribed. Where two or more villages have a common Panchyata, the shamlat deh of each village shall be utilised and disposed of by the Panchayat for the benefit of the inhabitants of that village. Provided further that where the area of the land in shamlat deh in any village was vested or deemed to have been vested in a Panchayat is in excess of twenty five percent of the total area of that village (excluding a .....

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he Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1972, by the Assistant Collector of the first grade) in consultation with the Panchayat (in such manner and on payment of such amount) as may be prescribed. If, in the opinion of the State Government it is necessary to take over to secure proper management for better utilisation for the benefit of the inhabitants of the village concerned any shamlat deh the Government may by notification take over the management of such shamlat deh for a period not exceed .....

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5A, made in contravention of the prescribed terms and conditions, shall be void and the gifted land so transferred shall revert to and re-vest in Panchayat free from all encumbrances. Sections 5A and 5B of the Act were inserted vide Haryana Amendment Act No.25 of 1976 with retrospective effect. Section 15 of the Act authorises the State Government to make rules for carrying out the purposes of the Act. Under Clause (ff) of sub-section (2) of Section 15 of the Act, the rules made can provide for .....

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anchayat Samiti where the area exceeds 100 acres but does not exceed 1000 acres. Under Sub-Rule (2) of Rule 3, the Panchayat may make use of the land in shamlat deh vested in it under the Act either itself or through another, for any one or more of the purposes specified therein including the purposes of school buildings, school library or any other structure for educational purposes, maternity or first aid centres and hospital and dispensary. Rule 6, at the relevant time, provided that all leas .....

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ckward Classes or dependents of the defence personnel killed in any war after the independence of India or landless labourers or tenants in genuine cases on ground of poverty and any other suitable common purpose. Rule 13 provides that the Panchayat may, with the previous approval of the Government, gift the land in shamlat deh, vested in it under the Act, for the purposes of hospital, dispensary, or educational or charitable institutions or for such other purposes as may be approved by the Gove .....

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be as under: "(a) The donee shall not sell, mortgage or dispose of the land in any other manner, whatsoever before the expiry of a period of twenty year from the date of the gift; Provided that doner may mortgage the land with any scheduled bank or Housing Board or the government for the purpose of raising loan for the construction of the house; (b) the donee shall construct a house on the land within a period of two years from the date of the gift; (c) the donee shall use the land for resi .....

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has been prepared under Sub-Rule (1) of Rule 3. There is nothing on the record to show that any such utilisation plan was prepared warranting the action under Sub-Rule (2). If the recourse was to be had to the aforesaid provisions, the utilisation of the land through an agency other than the Panchayat could be hade by leasing out the site and compliance of the conditions specified in Rule 6. No such action appears to have been taken in the instant case. Rule 13 authorises the Panchayat to make a .....

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he Act. Clause (ff) of sub-section (2) of Section 15 authorises the State Government to frame Rules regarding the terms and conditions on which the land shamlat deh may be gifted to the members of the Scheduled Caste and Backward Classes. Section 15 does not authorise the State Government to make Rules with respect to the gift of the land to persons other than those contemplated under Section 5A and 5B of the Act. Any rule which is contrary to the provisions of the Act cannot be given effect to .....

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ars to be abuse of the powers vesting in the Panchayat. The State Government appears to have taken a very casual approach in the matter and granted the approval for reasons best known only to it. Non application of the mind of the State government is writ large in the case. The manner in which the Gram Panchayat and the State Government have dealt with the matter shows that they were overshadowed by the towering political personality of Sh.Chander Shekhar, Chairman of Respondent No.7. His giant .....

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ht to gift land out of the shamlat deh for purposes as specified in Rule 13 but after the amendment of the Act, Rule 13 became redundant and could not be invoked as its exercise would be against the provisions of the Act, authorising the making of gifts only in favour of the persons specified in the aforesaid two sections. Assuming that the Government had the right to grant the approval for making the gift under Rule 13, the same was required to be strictly followed and adhered to for the purpos .....

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at land by Gram Panchayat, Bhondsi measuring 270 kanals 6 marlas out of Khasra numbers of the land specified in the order for setting up a welfare institution as resolved by the Gram Panchayat Bhondsi. The approval to gift the shamlat land was, however, subject to the following conditions: "1. Bharat Yatra Trust will construct a Civil Dispensary Building consisting of 3 rooms with verandah. 2. Non technical hands will be appointed from the village residents. 3. One representative from the v .....

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hnic as resolved by the Gram Panchayat subject to the same conditions. The making of the gift depended upon the compliance of the conditions, specified in the aforesaid two Government orders. Concededly the condition No.6 for getting the land released from the Forest Department through proper channel was never complied with before the execution and registration of Gift Deeds. It is conceded before us that the land, the subject matter of the gift has not, however been got released from the forest .....

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d, i.e., Gram Panchayat and its inhabitants. Learned counsel, appearing for the respondents, could not satisfy us regarding the legality and validity of the gift deeds without compliance of Condition No.6 of the order of the Government granting approval for making the gift. The Gram Panchayat has dealt with property of its inhabitants in a reckless manner with the object of depriving the people of the area, the user of the land under the Act and the Rules made thereunder. The land which was inte .....

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or the college and polytechnic on the land gifted by the Gram Panchayat, Bhondsi. Such a submission has to be noticed only for being rejected inasmuch as the order of the State Government specifically provided that the shamlat land of the Gram Panchayat was approved to be gifted for setting up of a welfare institution in the form of a civil dispensary as also college and polytechnic on the land gifted. The gifting of the land even under Rule 13 of the Rules is, admittedly, subject to the approv .....

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roval for gifting the shamlat land vesting in the Panchayat for the purpose of "hospital, dispensary or educational or charitable institutions or for such purpose as may be approved by the Government to be for the benefit of the inhabitants of village concerned". Despite adopting a casual approach, the State Government had specified one of the purposes mentioned in Sub-Rule (1) of Rule 13 for making the gift of the Gram Panchayat which was violated by the Gram Panchayat while executing .....

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a legal obligation to approach the State Government afresh for modification of its order. Construction of three rooms dispensary by the Trust which is admittedly now managed and manned by the Government cannot be termed to be the compliance of condition No.1 of the Government order. The Gram Panchayat had no power, right or jurisdiction to transfer land measurign 271 kanals 6 marlas by way of gift in lieu of getting constructed three room dispensary in the village. The Gram Panchayat is not a c .....

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respondent No.7 which is admittedly not recognised by any Government or affiliated to any University. The Committee appointed in terms of this Court's order, in its report, has found, on facts, that the land is not being used for either a college or polytechnic. It is true that for violation of the aforesaid condition no action be taken for declaring the gift deed void but the non user of the land either for a college or for a polytechnic and insistence of the Stree Niketan being the substit .....

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7 has produced before us Jamabandi pertaining to the aforesaid land of the year 1980- 81, which shows that the aforesaid land was in occupation of the Gram Panchayat itself. Admittedly, the Gram Panchayat passed its first resolution on 22.10.1983 and second resolution on 8.12.1989. No revenue records have been produced before us to show that the Gram Panchayat was in possession of the land at the time when action for making the gift of the land in favour of the respondent No.7 was initiated and .....

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ed for the purposes of forest, the provisions of the Indian Forest Act and the Forest Conservation Act would be attracted, putting restrictions on de-reservation of the forest or use of the land for non forest purposes. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980 has been enacted with the object of preventing deforestation. The provisions of the aforesaid Act are applicable to all forests. It is true that "forest" has not been defined under the Act but this Court in T.N. Godavarman Thirumulkpad .....

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cord irrespective of the ownership. The provisions of the Forest Conservation Act are applicable to all forests so understood irrespective of the ownership or classification thereof. This Court has issued certain directions and guidelines for the preservation of forest and its produce in T.N. Godavaraman's case which are not shown to have been implemented by the respondent-State. Section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act mandates that no State Government or authority shall make an order direc .....

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The gifting of land, in the instant case, cannot, in any way, be termed to be for a forest purpose. Learned counsel appearing for the State of Haryana showed us a Government order which had declared the area, covered by gift deeds, as forest prohibiting the cutting of the trees, declared as forest though for a limited period of 25 years. It is submitted that as the period of 25 years was not extended, the land, earlier declared as forest, had ceased to be a forest land. Such a plea is contradic .....

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not to be a forest land or land used for the purpose of the forest. In the affidavit filed on behalf of the respondents it is specifically stated: "It is submitted that the State Government had only given approval to the Gram Panchayat for gifting the land. However, while permitting the Gram Panchayat to gift the land by way of abundant precaution, the State Government had imposed the condition to the effect that the land in question be got released from the Forests Department in accordanc .....

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respondent No.7, has submitted that as the land is being utilised for the purposes of the Trust and Shri Chander Shekhar is not taking any advantage from the said land, the action initiated by way of public interest litigation is not sustainable. There is no doubt that the land has not been utilised by the respondent No.7 for any commercial purpose but it is equally true that the land is being utilised for purposes other than those contemplated under the Act and the Rules made thereunder for whi .....

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d as claimed. It cannot be disputed that in this country the position of rural poor is worst. According to an assessment about 2/3rd of the rural population which consists of farm workers, small and marginal farmers, poor artisans and the unemployed agricultural labourer are possessed of 15 to 20% of the total available land. The number of owners of land with less than 0.2 hectares is about 29 million. When millions of landless agriculturists are struggling to get some land for feeding their fam .....

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sy. For a reasonable person, as the respondent No.7 is presumed to be, the aforesaid land should have been returned to the Gram Panchayat after public controversy had risen culminating in the filing of the present writ petition in public interest. This Court cannot remain a silent spectator where people's property is being usurped for the personal leisure and pleasure of some individuals under the self- created legal, protective umbrella and the name of a Trust. A politician of the stature o .....

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t of the inhabits of the area, the poor and oppressed and the scheduled castes and backward classes. We are not impressed with any of the pleas raised on behalf of the respondent No.7 that the land was acquired bonafide for the proclaimed object of upliftment of the people of this country in general and of the area in particular. We fail to understand as to how the country can be uplifted by personal adventures of constituting trusts and acquiring hundreds of acres of lands for the purposes of t .....

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ht to the allegations of the petitioner that the action of the respondent No.7 was illegal and not bonafide. We are fully satisfied that the resolutions of the Gram Panchayat resolving to transfer the land measuring 271 kanals 6 marlas and 151 kanals 19 marlas, the approval granted by the respondent-State for making the gift by the Gram Panchayat in favour of the respondent No.7 and the ultimate gift deeds executed in favour of the respondent No.7 are not referable to any authority of law and ap .....

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te Government and the gift deeds executed by Gram Panchayat in favour of respondent-Trust and direct the delivery of possession of the land to the Gram Panchayat in the manner specified in this judgment. It has been stated at the Bar after the execution of the gift deeds the respondent No.7 has raised construction and spent huge sums of money which may be taken into account for not divesting him of the possession of the land in dispute in general and the land where those structures have been rai .....

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nd it can be utilised for the benefit of Gram Panchayat. The respondent No.7 is, however, at liberty to remove the movable properties including the cattle from the area within a period of two months from the date of this order. Under the circumstances this writ petition is allowed by making the Rule absolute with the issuance of following directions: i) Consequent upon quashing of Gram Panchayat Resolutions dated 22.10.1983 and 18.10.1997, the Government Orders dated 3.3.84 and 6.6.90 and the gi .....

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Chief Secretary, The Deputy Commissioner, Gurgaon, the concerned Block Development and Panchayat Officer, the representative of the Ministry of Environment, Government of India, a representative of the Ministry of Home Affairs(Central Government) and the President of the District Bar Association, Gurgaon and the Sarpanch of Panchayat, Bhondsi, to take possession of the land within two months from the date of its constitution and submit its compliance report in this Court by 30th July, 2002. iii) .....

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by the committee or with such modifications as may be deemed proper in the interests of the Panchayat and for the purposes enumerated under the Act and the Rules. iv) The respondent-State shall appoint another committee comprising of its Finance Secretary, Chief Engineer of the PWD, a representative of the Accountant General and the Sarpanch of the Gram Panchayat to assess the costs of construction of the buildings constructed on the land. The cost shall be assessed on the basis of the account .....

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