The Supreme Court of India has issued a stay on the eviction of over 4,000 families from land in Haldwani, Uttarakhand, which is claimed by the railways.
The families have lived in the area for years and possess valid documents recognized by the government. The court has asked the state and the railways to find a “practical solution” and posted the matter to February 7, 2023.
The bench expressed concern over the fact that many of the occupants have been residing in the area for decades, claiming rights on the basis of leases and auction purchases. The judges also questioned whether there had been a demarcation between state land and railway land and whether proceedings under the Public Premises Act were pending.
What is the issue?
- The Uttarakhand High Court has ordered the eviction of thousands of families living on railway land in the Banbhoolpura area of Haldwani
- 50,000 people have been residing in unauthorized colonies for the past decade.
- The residents claim to have owned the land for nearly a decade, and the railways
- In court, none of the encroachments were able to present documents proving ownership of the property.
Supreme Court’s analysis:
- There can’t be the uprooting of 50,000 people overnight. There has to be segregation of people who have no right on the land and the need to rehabilitate while considering the interests of the railways.
- In this case, the human angle is involved, thus, there has to be rehabilitation.
- The Bench, however, clarified that it had only stayed the eviction order passed by the high court and not the proceedings initiated under the Public Property Act.
What is the nature of land ownership in India?
In India, land can be owned by individuals, corporations, and the government. Private ownership is regulated by the Indian Transfer of Property Act, of 1882, and the Indian Easements Act, of 1882. Land can be acquired through purchase, inheritance, or gift. The government also has the power to acquire private land for public use through the Land Acquisition Act, of 1894.