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Indian Case Summary

Ajit Singh vs Union Of India Thru’ Secy. & 6 … on 6 July, 2017 – Case Summary

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In the case of Ajit Singh vs Union of India through Secretary, Ministry of Defence & 7 Ors, heard at the Allahabad High Court on 6 July 2017, a series of Public Interest Litigations (PILs) and writ petitions were filed, all involving common questions of facts and law. The bench consisted of Dilip B. Bhosale, Chief Justice, and Yashwant Varma.

Facts of the Case

The petitioner, Ajit Singh, claimed to be the publisher of a local fortnightly newspaper, Sajag Sathi, and spokesperson of a Non-Government Organization (Noida Lok Manch). He also claimed to be a Press Reporter of the Hindi Daily ‘Vishwa Guru’. In the PIL, he sought several reliefs, including the verification and demarcation of Defence land, action against encroachers, constitution of a High-Level Committee to hold an enquiry against the Officers/employees of the District Administration and Defence, and an investigation into the irregularities committed by the concerned revenue officials/employees and defence officers in encroachment/grabbing of 482 acres land of Ministry of Defence.

The petitioners in connected writ petitions, who claimed to be bona fide purchasers of small pieces of farm land/plots out of the land involved in these petitions, challenged its acquisition that took place in 1950.

Issues

The main issue was the alleged encroachment and illegal transactions of the defence land that was acquired for the benefit of the defence authorities in 1950. The land was acquired for the Union Ministry of Defence to develop a Firing and Bombing Range for the Air Force. The land is situated in two States, namely, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. The land in question, measuring 482 acres, is situated in Village “Nagli Nagla” and “Nagli Sagpur”, Pargana Dadri, District Bulandshahr, now in district Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the land acquired for the benefit of the defence authorities seems to have been illegally dealt with, encroached upon, and transacted in. The court also noted that the revenue authorities of the State have conveniently taken the stand that maps and records pertaining to the lands are not available. The court expressed its concern over the apathy shown by the defence authorities towards the protection of the land which has been acquired specifically for defence purposes.

In light of these observations, the court constituted a team to monitor the entire exercise of demarcating the lands, and taking all necessary precautions to safeguard the interest of the IAF by ensuring due correction of the revenue records. The team consisted of a nominee of the Commanding Officer of the Indian Air Force Station at Hindon, the Defence Estates Officer, Delhi Circle, the Director, Survey of India at Lucknow, and the Collector and District Magistrate, Gautam Budh Nagar.

The court also directed the Chairman of the Board of Revenue of the State of Uttar Pradesh to personally monitor the matter and ensure that all necessary cooperation is extended to the Committee in locating records and maps and making available all necessary information and material.