Friday, September 5, 2014

High Court pulls up Army and State for non-compliance with directives

The division bench of Sikkim High Court has pulled up the state government and Indian army for failing to comply with its directives while paying rent of hired landed property of the public of Lachen in North Sikkim.
The Indian Army was required to furnish details of all the landholders with their name and address, whose land has been occupied by it, how much amount has been paid to them on account of hiring charges etc in tabular form with advance copy to the petitioners within a period of two weeks as per the High Court’s 12 August direction.
The Indian Army and State Government filed their respective affidavits before the High Court informing that they have paid only 50 percent of the total hiring charges calculated by them, without showing any justification or basis for withholding the remaining 50 percent.
While taking serious note of the affidavits the division bench headed by Chief Justice NK Jain and Justice Sushil Kumar Sinha observed that, “If there is no basis for withholding the remaining 50 percent of the amount, the same may be paid forthwith to the landowners. The respondents will make payment of interest on delayed payment also.”
“The respondents will also furnish the actual date on which the possession of land was taken by them,” the court said directing them to comply with the directions as well as the remaining directions given by this Court on 12 August within a period of ten days from 26 August, failing which the concerned persons will remain present in person before the Court on the next date and it may be treated as contempt of Court.
Earlier the High Court had directed the respondents to furnish the details of private land occupied by them; the amount of hiring charges paid by the respondents to each landholder; whether respondents have finalized the hiring charges as per the prevalent market rate, after hearing the concerned persons/ land owners; the basis for calculating the amount of hiring charges; and mode of payment of hiring charges paid by respondents to landholders.
The grievance of petitioners in their Public Interest Litigation is that their land as well as dwelling houses have been occupied by the Indian army forcefully without entering into an agreement to pay the hiring charges and without issuing any notification for acquisition of their land and houses.
They also stated that the Army has neither paid any hiring charges nor are they vacating the land and dwelling house occupied for the last 40 years.
After the intervention of the High Court on the PIL, the army started paying hiring charges to some of the landholders but it was a meager amount and not as per the prevalent market rate.

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