The Gujarat High Court Monday sought a fresh survey report from the government over an alleged land scam involving Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officers accused of building bungalows on government land.
A division bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi slammed the government for not using traditional surveys for measuring encroachment and presenting a report based on satellite images.
“Have you ever heard of encroachment being measured through satellite,” questioned the bench.
The Chief Justice said that his stint in Gujarat was his fourth in a high court but he had never heard of encroached land being measured in this manner.
“We are hearing so many cases of encroachment on a daily basis. When the poor encroach government land then you opt for traditional methods of measurement. Then why do you have to obtain satellite images in this case even after the court’s specific order,” the bench asked the public prosecutor.
The court said if the state government’s land records office was facing any difficulty in measuring the land then it would direct a central government agency to probe the matter.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Gandhinagar resident Ghanshyamsinh Vaghela alleging that IAS officers had encroached 92 hectare land belonging to the Sardar Sarovar Nigam Narmada Limited (SSNNL) and built bungalows on it.
The bench said it would not have entertained such a petition if there was a Lokayukta in the state.
The petition states that the records of this Alloa village land, located close to state capital and estimated to be worth Rs.400 crore, have been manipulated to facilitate encroachment.
According to the petition, the land was transferred to an association which created Alloa Hill resorts. It was also alleged that the land was given to SSNNL in 1993 for afforestation but neither was the work carried out nor wasthe land returned to the government.
The court in its last hearing on March 18 ordered the state government’s land records office to probe the allegation, measure the land and submit a survey report.
Following the court’s order, the state government Monday filed a survey report including measurements obtained through satellite.
The court has now ordered the government to submit a fresh report in the next hearing fixed for April 28.