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SC To Hear In May Pleas Concerning Removal Of Encroachments From Railway Land In Uttarakhand's Haldwani

On Tuesday, The Supreme Court said it would hear in May the pleas on which it had last month stayed the Uttarakhand High Court's order for the removal of encroachments from 29 acres of land claimed by the railways in Haldwani.

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it would hear in May the pleas on which it had last month stayed the Uttarakhand High Court's order for the removal of encroachments from 29 acres of land claimed by the railways in Haldwani.
    
The matter came up for hearing before a bench of Justices SK Kaul and Manoj Misra, which listed it for hearing on May 2.
    
On January 5, the top court had stayed the high court order for the removal of encroachments from the 29 acres of land claimed by the railways in Haldwani, terming it a "human issue" and said 50,000 people cannot be uprooted overnight.
    
"We do believe that a workable arrangement is necessary to segregate people who may have no rights in the land and those who have.... Coupled with schemes of rehabilitation which may already exist while recognising the need of the railways," it had said.
    
During Tuesday's hearing, the bench was requested to grant eight weeks to authorities to work out a solution as indicated by the court last month.
    
According to the railways, there are 4,365 encroachers on the land, while the occupants were earlier staging protests in Haldwani, asserting that they were the rightful owners of the land.
    
Nearly 50,000 people, a majority of them Muslims, belonging to more than 4,000 families reside on the disputed land.
    
Observing that many of the occupants have claimed that they have been residing there for more than 50 years, the apex court had last month observed that there was a "human angle" to the problem and the authorities concerned had to find a "practical way out".
    
It had also issued notices to the railways and the Uttarakhand government, seeking their responses to a batch of pleas challenging the high court order for the removal of encroachments.
    
In its December 20 last year order, the high court had said, "The railway authorities, in coordination with the district administration, and if need be, with any other paramilitary forces, shall immediately, after giving a week's notice to the occupants over the railway land, ask them to vacate the land within the aforesaid period."
    
The apex court had, however, said since the people who sought to be removed from the land have been staying there for several years, some rehabilitation has to be found for them.
    
Staying the high court's directions, the apex court had said there had to be complete restraint on any further occupation of land and construction whether by the existing occupants or anyone else.
    
The high court had ordered the demolition of constructions on the alleged encroached railway land at Banbhoolpura in Haldwani.
    
It had directed that a week's notice be given to the encroachers, after which the encroachments should be demolished.
    
The residents have submitted in their plea that the high court has gravely erred in passing the impugned order, despite being aware of the fact that proceedings about the title of the residents, including the petitioners, are pending before the district magistrate.
    
The petitioners have claimed that they possess documents that establish their title and valid occupation.

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