Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed the order of Uttarakhand High Court ordering eviction of encroachmemt from 23 acres of land near the Haldwani railway station. The apex court asked the petitioners (encroachers) to approach the High Court as they were not heard before passing of the eviction orders and directed the court to expeditiously decide their pleas in three months.
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“We require the petitioners to move the High Court on or before February 13. All such applications that have been filed shall be taken up for hearing, affording an opportunity to petitioners of being heard. We request the High Court to dispose of the petitions in three months from February 13. Directions contained in the impugned order dated January 10, 2017 shall remain stayed for three months,” a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
The bench noted that individual notices were not served upon the petitioners and the notice served was addressed as “all encroachers in railway land”. It said that Provisions of Public Premises Eviction Act cannot be invoked arbitrarily to oust the petitioners without following the procedure laid down in law.
The apex court said the petitioners should approach the High Court seeking recall of the order. On January 10, the High Court had directed removal of encroachment from the railway land within four weeks. Senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for the petitioners, said the High Court has erred in passing eviction order as the land is not demarcated and there was an ownership dispute between state and railways.
She said the land in question had schools, college, houses and mosque and over 50,000 people, some of them living since Independence who cannot be evicted without following proper procedure laid down under law. Senior advocate Salman Khurshid appearing for Uttarakhand government said due to soil erosion, the demarcation of land has blurred, while also referring to India-China border dispute where there is lack of clarity.
“This is for External Affairs Minister to worry, not us. Court does not need to worry about all these issue,” the bench in lighter vein told Khurshid, who had held the portfolio of External Affairs minister during UPA-II rule. The high court had also dismissed a review application filed by the state to stay the removal of encroachment from the premises of Railway Authorities Gafur Basti at Haldwani and directed the Senior Superintendent of Police Nainital, to provide the necessary police force.