In a landmark judgement, Himachal Pradesh High Court ordered the state government to make necessary amendments in the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act 1972 to give land purchase rights to all Himachalis living in the state prior to 1972 .
A Division bench comprising Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Sureshwar Thakur passed the orders while allowing a petition filed by one Satpal Saini seeking Court’s intervention in allowing purchase of land and also registration of the mutation .
Under section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, only agriculturists are allowed by purchase land without state government permissions while non-agriculturists are debarred .
Making some of the strong observations, the court said, “ There is a sense of alienation amongst the non-agriculturist Himachalis. They are integral part of the state of Himachal Pradesh and they also have a sense of belongings to the state”.
The bench said, “ This Court deems it fit and proper to direct the state government to make suitable amendments to Section 118 of the HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972 read with HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Rules, 1975 in order to facilitate purchase of any land (agricultural and non-agricultural) in the state by the non-agriculturist Himachalis residing here for decades together prior to the date of commencement of the Act in 1972 within a period of ninety days from today”
Disposing off the petition , the court said that the impugned annexure dated April 23,2014 is quashed and set aside. Respondents are directed to attest the mutation within a period of eight weeks from today by treating the petitioner to be an agriculturist.
The judgment is likely to give a relief to thousands of Himachalis who have been living in the state before HP Tenancy and Land Reforms Act was passed by the state assembly in 1972. “ This marks an end of our long struggle” admitted a local social worker ,whose ancestors were settled here after coming from Uttrakhand.
As per orders, the government will be required to amend the definition of agriculturist to include families living here from before 1972.