GUWAHATI, April 13 – The Gauhati High Court has directed the Principal Secretary to the Government of Assam, Revenue Department to review Clause 14.3(ii) and 14.3(iv) of the Land Policy, 1989 within a period of six months.
“Till such time, the State Government is restrained from making any further settlement of land in Greater Guwahati and in other towns of the State in terms of the clauses,” the Court of Justice Ujjal Bhuyan ruled.
Clause 14 of the Land Policy deals with settlement and reservation of lands in towns.
Clause 14.3 specifically deals with settlement of land within Greater Guwahati and other towns. Land within Greater Guwahati and any other town may be settled on payment of due premium with the indigenous persons of the State in order of preference mentioned therein. Various situations have been enumerated therein which would entitle an indigenous person of the State to settlement of land by the Government within Greater Guwahati or any other town subject to fulfillment of the conditions mentioned therein.
During the hearing of a writ petition, arising out of a dispute between the widow of a senior lawyer (Former Additional Advocate General of Assam) and his junior colleague, who were both beneficiaries of land settlement made by the Government of Assam, attention of the Court was drawn to the Land Policy of 1989.
Justice Bhuyan observed in his judgment that though there may be some justification entitling landless people to settlement of land, who are in occupation of Government land for the last 15 years or more, the Court is unable to find any justification at all for settlement of land to the categories of persons covered by Sub-Clause (ii) and (iv) of the Land Policy.
The Court also observed in its judgment that the condition slapped on a person to be in occupation of Government land for a period of 15 years or more virtually encourages and puts a premium on illegal encroachment of Government land.
Advocate BD Das appeared on behalf of the petitioner while RK Bora, Additional Senior Government advocate appeared on behalf of the State Government.
Civil rights lawyer Bhaskar Dev Konwar, while reacting on the judgment, said that only an investigation by the CBI would be able to unearth the irregular and illegal allotment of Government land at throwaway prices.