Encroachment on forest land can’t be protected: Delhi HC

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New Delhi:  The Delhi High Court has said encroachment on forest land cannot be protected while refusing to direct the authorities not to demolish a five-decade-old temple, built on a forest land, in the capital.

The court said it was clear from the averments made in the petition that the temple was constructed by encroachment and there was no reason to prohibit the forest department from recovering the land or demolishing the structure.

“The assertion that the structure is an ancient temple is also inconsistent with the averments in the petition to the effect that the same was built in 1965.

“In this view, this court finds no reason to interdict the forest department for recovering the said land or demolishing any structure thereon. It is now well settled that encroachments on forest land are not to be protected,” Justice Vibhu Bakhru said while dismissing the petition filed by those managing the temple ‘baba mohan ram ki kholi pracheen mandir’.

The petitioner claimed that the temple was built by his father in 1965 and he and his children are now looking after the day-to-day affairs of the structure.

He said they are apprehending that the forest department would demolish the temple, which is located near Jonapur village in south Delhi and the authorities be restrained from doing so.

The man claimed that the authorities had acquired uncultivated surplus land in Jonapur village and other villages as notified in a 1996 notification but the temple, spread over an area of two acres, was not acquired as it was built up.

The court noted that undisputedly the temple was situated amongst forest lands.

When the court asked the man’s counsel as to what right did they have to occupy this land, he responded that it was gaon sabha land and the petitioner could be evicted by following due process.

“Concededly, the petitioner has no right to the land/property in question,” the court noted.