Jammu, Jan 3: A Division Bench of the High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh, while holding the J&K government “guilty of violation of human rights” for “illegally depriving” the petitioners “of their land without any authority of law”, directed it to pay a “token compensation of Rs 10 lakhs” to them.
The Division Bench, comprising the Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and the Justice Javed Iqbal Wani, gave this decision in a case of ‘Krishan Singh and another’ with the observation that “Right to property/land used to be a fundamental right but now it has been recognized as a constitutional right vide Article 300A of the Constitution of India.”
“It provides that no one can be deprived of his property save by authority of law. This constitutional right has been acknowledged to be akin to a fundamental right and more importantly a basic human right. Thus, no one can be deprived of his property without following the procedure prescribed in law and payment of adequate compensation,” the Division Bench held in a significant verdict.
The Division Bench also issued a writ in the nature of mandamus commanding the respondents (J&K government) to “distribute the estimated cost of acquisition of the land (in question) which has been worked out to be Rs 15 lakhs within a period of one month from the date of decision and to conclude the acquisition proceedings by issuing a declaration under Section 6 of the Act and pronouncing the final award within a period of three months from the date of decision and to pay the compensation as per the award to the petitioners forthwith subject to any reference or appeal that may be preferred against the award.”
“A further writ in the nature of mandamus is issued to the respondents to pay a token compensation of Rs 10 lakhs to the petitioners for illegally depriving them of their land without any authority of law and thus violating their human rights. This amount shall be paid to the petitioners within a period of two weeks from the date a certificate copy of this order is placed before the Secretary, Rural Development Department, Government of J&K,” the Bench held.
The petitioners, the residents of village Batroo, tehsil Pogal Paristan (Ukhral) in district Ramban and owners of land measuring 2 kanals and 3 marlas with nine walnut trees, had alleged that their land with trees was utilized by the government in the year 2012-13 for the construction of multi-purpose community hall in village Batroo but without any lawful authority. “The land was not acquired and no consent of the petitioners was taken to use it. The petitioners were not even paid any compensation,” they had maintained in the petition.
It was also alleged by the petitioners that initially 1 kanal and 2 marlas of the land with two walnut trees was sought to be acquired but subsequently, Assistant Commissioner (Revenue), Ramban submitted a report revealing that the entire 2 kanals and 3 marlas of land with all nine walnut trees would be needed for the purpose of construction of the multi-purpose community
“In the given circumstances, the respondents are clearly guilty of violation of the human rights of the petitioners and they are liable to compensate them for such infringement. At the same time, since the community hall has already been constructed and the land cannot be restored to the petitioners, it is desirable that the respondents complete the acquisition proceedings at the earliest and make a final award so that the petitioners may be compensated in a fair manner as per the market-value,” the Division held in its decision on December 30, 2021