HC rejects PIL challenging MP government’s demolition drive, says those whose homes have been razed can move

By Express press service

BHOPAL: The Madhya Pradesh High Court has dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by a Jabalpur-based lawyer over the ongoing demolition campaign of the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government.

While rejecting the motion filed by local lawyer Amitabha Gupta, a divisional bench of the MP’s High Court Main Bench comprising Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Purushaindra Kumar Kaurav said on Wednesday: “In reviewing the claims and pleadings, we are of the considered opinion that it may not be appropriate to regard this petition as a litigation of public interest.Even if the petitioner’s case must be accepted that certain people’s houses have been demolished , such persons necessarily have the legal right to defend themselves and their property in a manner known to the law.”

“We see no connection to the petitioner and the people whose properties have been demolished. Therefore, it is up to these people to appropriately move the court to obtain the necessary order they deem appropriate. We find no reason to consider this petition on behalf of the current petitioner. Accordingly, the petition is dismissed,” the HC said in the order passed Wednesday.

The Jabalpur-based lawyer, through the petition, requested instructions from the HC to the government to bring records on cases in which the state police demolished houses or other structures belonging to the accused /suspicious without the permission of the law. In the petition, the petitioner had also sought instructions from the HC to the state government and the police not to take any action as set forth in the body of the petition without the authority of law.

In addition, counsel for the petitioner had requested any other direction the HC deemed appropriate to inspire faith and confidence in the general public as to the rule of law.

Reacting to the HC’s rejection of the petition, the state’s Home Secretary, Narottam Mishra, said, “The HC’s verdict put its affirmative seal on the action taken against illegal properties and encroachments by land sharks and rioters. The action initiated by the government is in accordance with the law and not targeted against any particular group.”

Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s government is facing criticism from the opposition Congress, Muslim organizations as well as rights bodies over the recent bulldozing of ‘illegal properties and encroachments’ into communal violence that has hit Khargone and the town of Sendhwa in the Malwa-Nimar region. Opponents of the ongoing demolition campaign have accused the government of targeting the Muslim community through the removal of the encroachment.

According to the state government, since April 2020 (when the BJP returned to power after 15 months of Congress rule), encroachments and illegal possessions have been removed from 15,397 acres of public land worth 11 Rs 941 crore across the state. Out of this total, 2,243.79 acres of public land worth Rs 671 crores was cleared from encroachments between January 1, 2022 and March 31, 2022.

CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan announced that the liberated land will be used to build houses for the poorest strata.