New Delhi: The Supreme Court has ruled that the Government or the authorities cannot be held liable for encroachment of land allotted to a person if the allottee or the
transferee fails to take steps to prevent the encroachers.
A bench of G S Singhvi and S D Mukhopadhya in a judgement said that the authorities cannot be held for deficiency if the land owner fails to protect the land after the allotment.
The apex court passed the judgement while upholding an appeal filed by Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) challenging a direction of the Consumer Fora directing it to
allot an alternative land to Viresh Sangwan who had bought a land from another person.
Sangwan had moved the District Consumer Forum complaining of deficiency of service on the ground that the land transferred to him was under encroachment. The forum directed
HUDA to allot an alternative land. The State Forum and the National Consumer Redressal Commission upheld the order, following which it moved the apex court.
"In our view, the finding recorded by the District Forum that there was deficiency in service on the appellant`s part is ex facie erroneous and the State Commission and the National Commission committed serious error by confirming the direction given by the District Forum for allotment of alternative plot to the respondents," the apex court said.
The bench pointed out that possession of the plot was delivered to the original allottee Champat Jain on 27.2.1998 free from all encumbrances and there is no provision in the
Haryana Urban Development Authority Act, 1977 and the Regulations for redelivery of possession to the transferees.
"One can easily visualise that after taking possession of the plot allotted to him, Shri Champat Jain did not take steps to protect the same and by taking advantage of his
absence at the site, the people from the neighbouring areas may have opened their doors towards the plot or made some encroachment.
"However, the appellant cannot be blamed for the encroachment, if any, made after possession of the plot delivered to the original allottee," the apex court said.
The apex court noted that Sangwan had executed the sale deed after inspecting the site and if there was any encroachment he should have immediately lodged a protest with the vendor.
The bench said it appears the respondents did not raise any objection in this regard and by taking shelter of a manipulative report prepared by the Junior Engineer of the Government they filed complaint and succeeded in convincing
the District Forum to ordain allotment of an alternative plot.
"In our considered opinion, the appellant cannot be held responsible for the encroachment, if any, made after possession of the plot had been delivered to Champat Jain and neither Devender Yadav and Narender Yadav, who purchased the plot from Champat Jain nor the respondents could possibly accuse the appellant of deficiency in service in the matter of allotment of plot on the ground that some people had made encroachment on it," the bench added.