Aravalli Property Owners Object To Supreme Court Stay On Land Bill

Published on 13 Mar 2019 by Harini

Residents and property owners in Aravalli villages notified under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) have objected to the Supreme Court’s (SC’s) stay on the PLPA Amendment Bill, claiming the law interferes with their constitutional right to property and trade. Several such property owners have recently formed an organisation titled ‘PLPA Peedit Haryana Jan Sanghatan’ (PPHJS), which is yet to be registered.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, say that it is not legally permissible to ‘own’ PLPA-notified Aravalli land, and that the land has been privatised through ‘dubious’ means.

The amendment was passed in the Haryana Assembly in February. If enacted, it will deny ‘forest’ status to at least 27,000 acres of ecologically sensitive Aravalli land in south Haryana, creating opportunities for real estate development and allowing land to be freely bought and sold. However, before the bill could receive the governor’s assent and become a law, the SC intervened.

In the 1970s, the state revenue department allowed the transfer of common land, classified as ‘panchayat deh’ or ‘shamlat deh’ lands, into the hands of villagers, who then sold off their undivided shares to real estate developers.

City-based legal activist and environmentalist Sarvadaman Oberoi said that this manner of ‘selling’ Aravalli land is illegal as “shamlat or common use lands cannot be bought and sold as has happened”.

Most protesters aligned with the PPHJS are residents or property owners who possess such land parcels in the Aravalli villages of Gurugram and Faridabad, such as Anangpur, Ankhir, Mangar, Kot, Mewala Maharajpur, Gwal Pahari and Bandhwari. However, there are presently restrictions on using this land for non-forestry purposes, meaning that the land does not have any real estate value.

Sanjeev Malhotra, who owns 12 acres of PLPA notified land in Faridabad’s Surajkund village, said, “The PLPA denies us right to property and fair trade under Articles 19(g) and 300A of the Constitution of India.”

Shyam Singh, an advocate representing members of the PPHJS, said. “The land that my clients own has always been private land because only they themselves have tended to it and relied on it for sustenance over generations. It should logically follow that possession leads to a title of the land.”


Tags: General Legal  Court Proceedings 

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