Haldwani Eviction Row: SC to Hear Plea Against HC Order Today

Women pray against the removal of encroachments from railway land in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, on Wednesday

New Delhi- The Supreme Court will hear on Thursday a batch of petitions challenging the Uttarakhand High Court order for removal of encroachments from 29 acres of railway land in Haldwani.

According to the railways, there are 4,365 encroachers on the land.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justices S.A. Nazeer and P.S. Narasimha posted the matter for hearing after advocate Prashant Bhushan mentioned the case.

The residents have submitted in their plea that the high court has gravely erred in passing the impugned order despite being aware of the fact that proceedings with regard to title of the residents, including the petitioners, are pending before the district magistrate.

“It is submitted that the High Court has gravely erred in not appreciating that the alleged Demarcation Report dated April 7, 2021 placed before it by the Railway Authorities, was a hollow sham that revealed no demarcation whatsoever. Despite extracting the covering letter of the Demarcation Report in the impugned order, the actual contents of the report that only contained the names and addresses of all the residents, were not gone into by the High Court,” the plea said.

The residents contended the “arbitrary and illegal” approach adopted by the railways and state authorities as well as the upholding of the same by the high court has resulted in gross violation of their right to shelter.

The petitioners claimed they are in possession of valid documents that clearly establish their title and valid occupation.

“It is further submitted that the High Court ought to have given due consideration to all these documents instead of making allegations of vote bank politics against State. Additionally, the names of the local residents have been recorded in the municipal records in the house tax register and they are paying the house tax regularly,” they said.

The Uttarakhand High Court, on December 20, ordered demolition of constructions over encroached railway land at Banbhoolpura in Haldwani.

The high court had directed that a week’s notice be given to the encroachers after which the encroachments should be demolished.

There are religious places, schools, business establishments and residences on an area spread over 29 acres of alleged encroached railway land in Banbhoolpura.

On November 9, 2016, the high court had ordered the removal of encroachments from the railway land within 10 weeks, while hearing a PIL filed by Ravi Shankar Joshi.

The court had said that all encroachers should be brought under the Railway Public Premises (eviction of unauthorised occupants) Act 1971.

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