Shimla: Himachal Pradesh High Court on Saturday has directed to remove all the encroachments from the National, State or any other Highways within three months.

The orders have been passed by Justice Trilok Singh Chauhan and Justice Satyen Vaidya. The Court dismissed the petition filed by Harnam Singh, a resident of Theog Sub Division, district Shimla.

The petitioner had pleaded that he belongs to a poor family and to meet his family expenses he had encroached upon National Highway and raised a dhaba about eight to nine years ago. The petitioner had received a notice to vacate the National Highway and dismantle his Dhaba upon which he approached Court.

The Court observed that footpaths, streets, pavement, acquired width of the Highways are public properties that are intended to serve the convenience of the general public. These are not for private use and their use for private purposes frustrates the very object for which they are carved out from portions of public roads.

The Court further observed that the future expansion of the roads gets stalled. The encroachment of acquired width of the land of the road results in permanent obstruction to the free movement of traffic and even the pedestrians’ safety and security is put at stake. Therefore, the acquired width of the land cannot be permitted to be used for any private purpose.

“It is not only high time but it is necessary to discourage encroachers immediately to such unlawful activities of encroaching on government land, that too, on the National Highways and though raise structures like dhabas, restaurant etc. over these land in order to make huge profits,” said the Court.

“It is on account of higher returns, such illegal encroachments are carried out over the prime properties on the National Highways and structures are constructed thereupon by the unscrupulous persons, without any right. Therefore, all such cases of illegal encroachments, unauthorised constructions have to be dealt with sternly and swiftly,” said the Court.

“Social justice will continue to be perpetrated with impunity. Merely because someone is economically weak and has no adequate means of livelihood, will not give him a right to encroach and erect structures on any public place or else there will be a complete breakdown of law and order and chaos, which shall be extremely detrimental to the interest of the society” the court added.

The Court said “It is shocking that a number of unauthorised constructions have come along the highways, be it State or National Highways, that too, right under the nose of the authorities, there can only be two presumptions; either complete incompetence or active collusion. Either way, it would be against the law. 

The Court further said that for years no one has been held accountable for this. As a result, there is mushrooming of these structures as a technique to encroach upon the prime land and carry out business, that too, without even adhering to the bare minimum norms.