Shimla: To ensure the eviction of 13 encroachers, who had encroached more than 100 bighas, from the forest land in the Shimla district, the Himachal Pradesh high court has constituted a Special Investigating Team (SIT) of Shimla additional deputy commissioner Debasweta Banik (IAS), Daroh Police Training College principal Soumya Sambasivan (IPS), Talland chief conservator of forest (EAP) Alok Nagar and Rohru divisional forest officer.

A division bench of acting Justice Sanjay Karol and Justice Tarlok Singh Chauhan expressed displeasure on the working of the officials of the state by observing that “this court from time to time has been adversely commenting on the functioning of the officials of the state and even now when the state authorities have chosen not to evict even one of the encroachers, this only reflects a half-hearted attempt, lack of courage of conviction, requisite departmental desire or determination or will of these officials to implement the order(s) of this court”.

The Court stated that the half-hearted implementation of order has left the Court with only option of constituting of SIT to ensure implementation of its order of eviction of 13 persons who have encroached more than 100 bighas.

The HC said it was well known that in order to achieve any extraordinary result, one was required to have a strong will, firm determination, and burning desire. “All the three master components are wholly absent, rather conspicuously lacking in these officials. Therefore, in the given circumstances, we are left with no other option, but to constitute a special investigating team to carry out eviction,” the Bench commented.

The court further clarified in its order that “the interim protection permitting the retention of encroached land to the maximum limit of 5 bighas has been provided by this court in accordance with Rule 5 of the proposed Himachal Pradesh Conferment of Proprietary Rights (in certain cases for small and marginal farmers) on the Government Land Rules 2017. However, it once again needs to be clarified and reiterated that this court has not upheld the legality and validity of the proposed policy as formulated by the state government.”

It further clarified that, therefore, all the orders as have been passed by this court from time to time qua retention to the extent of 5 bighas of encroached land are still subject to the orders that may be eventually passed by this court in these cases.

The court further directed the Chief Secretary to pass necessary directions to the forest, police and revenue officers in this regard for ensuring compliance of Court order and ordered to submit report on next hearing on May 9.

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Rahul Bhandari is Editor of TheNewsHimachal and has been part of the digital world for last 15 years.