The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh has recently directed the Union Ministry of Defence to settle pending rental dues of ₹2.49 crores for twenty-four families, constituting Displaced Persons (DPs) from Pakistan Administered Kashmir (PaK), reported Bar and Bench.
These families had their land forcibly taken over by the Indian Army in 1978 without proper legal procedures and compensation.
Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal stated that the Indian Army had occupied the land allotted to displaced persons in 1953 unlawfully, without due process and without compensating the owners since 1978.
The court emphasized that once land is allocated for rehabilitation, it cannot be taken away without proper legal procedures or compensation.
The court declared that the Central government’s acquisition of the land was illegal and unconstitutional. If the government wishes to retain the land, it must follow legal procedures, including paying compensation.
The Union of India was deemed legally obligated to pay the rental compensation determined by the State Government to the petitioners.
The judgment, pertaining to a batch of petitions by descendants of PaK displaced persons, highlighted that the Indian Army took over their land in 1978. Committees were formed over the years to determine compensation, and ₹2.49 crores were agreed upon for the period from January 1, 1978, to March 31, 2009, but the payment was never made.
The High Court, in its decision on December 14, 2023, affirmed that the Union of India had been in unauthorized occupation of the land since 1978, violating the basic rights of the petitioners.
Emphasizing the constitutional right to property under Article 300A, the court stressed that the due process of law must be followed in depriving individuals of such rights.
The court allowed the petition, directing the authorities to pay the ₹2.49 crores in rental compensation to the claimants within a month. It also mandated estimating additional rent from 2009 onwards under the Land Acquisition Act within a month, with a warning of a 6 percent per annum interest rate if the compensation is not paid on time.
Advocate Jagpaul Singh represented the petitioners, while Central Government Standing Counsel Sandeep Gupta represented the Central government, and Senior Additional Advocate General Monika Kohli appeared for the Deputy Commissioner, Jammu.
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