Supreme Court: There cannot be any school without playground

The Apex Court on Tuesday highlighted the need to have a good environment and playgrounds in the school for the students. The Court directed the removal of the unauthorized occupations from the place that was formerly reserved for a school playground in Haryana [State of Haryana and Ors vs Satpal and ors].

Facts of the Case

The Respondents (Satpal and ors) were aggrieved and dissatisfied with the judgment and order passed by the High Court of Punjab and Haryana dated 12th May 2016 and the order dated 21st October 2016 passed in the review application.

The Original writ petitioners (Satpal and ors) are in possession of the land comprising Khasra No. 61/2 and 62 which belong to the Gram Panchayat. On the request of the Sarpanch a demarcation was carried out with regard to the above land, it showed that the land was in unauthorized possession of the Respondents. Soon after in the year 2009, the eviction proceedings were initiated and the ejectment application under Section 7 (2) of the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulation) Act was filed. The order dated 30th October 2011 was passed by the Assistant Collector.

The Original Writ Petitioners were dismayed by the above order and appealed before the Collector which came to be rejected so they further appealed before the Commissioner, that also was rejected the order passed on 4th September 2014. They then approached the High Court of Punjab and Haryana and pleaded for the orders above stated to be quashed.

Before the High Court

When the matter was brought to the attention of the High Court it was observed that the land encroached by the Original Writ Petitioners was part of the school premises and that they were willing to give an equivalent land in exchange for Khasra 63 which also adjoins to the school premises and can be utilized as a school playground. The High Court on such grounds issued notices to the concerned persons.

The High Court later observed that there was a dispute concerning the total area under occupation. Hence, a fresh demarcation was conducted under the supervision of the Local Commissioner. The report established that the Original Writ Petitioners are under unauthorized possession of the Gram Panchayat’s land. They were ready to double the extent of the encroached land and the other Petitioners are willing to pay its market price as may be assessed by the Gram Panchayat.

The High Court directed the Gram Panchayat with prior approval of the State Government to sell its non-cultivated land to the inhabitants of the village who have constructed their houses on or before 31st March 2000 provided that they do not have any residential house and further provided that the area is up-to 200 sq yards. The Court further directed the Original Writ Petitioners to offer the land close to the vicinity of the school and the needful should be done within Four months. The Authorities were asked to invoke powers under rule 12 and determine the market value of the land and vacant the area. The Authorities were also asked to segregate land from the residential area so that it can be prepared and utilized for the school playground.

Observations by Supreme Court

The excerpts from the judgment:

“The school is surrounded by the unauthorized construction made by the original writ petitioners. Therefore, the unauthorized occupation and possession of the land, which is reserved for the school and the playground, cannot be directed to be legalized. There cannot be any school without a playground. Even the students, who study in such a school are entitled to a good environment”

The Supreme Court stated that the High Court has committed a serious error in directing to legalize of the unauthorized occupation and to vacant the land. The unauthorized construction is in such a manner that some areas cannot be used for residential purposes and some areas are covered by vegetation hence segregation is not possible. Also, there is no other Panchayati land available to be turned into the school playground.

The Apex Court passed the judgement granting twelve months’ time period to vacate the land which was occupied by the Respondents unauthorizedly and if they fail to do so then the appropriate authority will intervene and vacate the lands.

Source: Livelaw and Bar and Bench


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