Rule 18(2) of the Settlement Rules under Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886 provides that encroachment on Govt. khas land or waste land or estate over which no person has acquired the right of a proprietor, land holder or settlement holder or any land that has previously been reserved, roads or road- side land or for the grazing of village cattle or for other public purposes shall be removed forthwith by the Deputy Commissioner.
Rule 18(3)(a)(i) of the Regulation provides that in all other cases, ejectment shall be preceded by publication of a notice in the manner as prescribed in the rule requiring the occupant to vacate the land specified in the notice within 15 days of publication of the notice on the land concerned or in a prominent place in the vicinity thereof.
The power to remove encroachments has also been delegated to the Circle Officers vide Govt. Notification No. RLR.162/2008/25, dated 06.02.2010.
Para 6.1 of Land Policy, 1989 underlines the need for preservation and protection of the existing VGRs and PGRs for use by the members of public for the purpose for which those were constituted and removal of encroachments, if any there from.
Para 6.2 of the Land policy also provides that a block of Govt. land ranging from 5 bighas to 15 bighas, subject to availability in each village should be reserved as an open space for environmental ecology and be kept free from encroachment.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide its Judgment in Civil Appeal No.1132/2011 @ SLP (C) No. 3109/2011 (Jagpal Singh -Vs– The State of Punjab & Others) ordered that all State Governments should prepare scheme for eviction of illegal un authorized occupants on village common lands and these must be restored to Gram Sabha / GP for the common use of the village. Regularization should only be permitted in exceptional cases e.g. where lease has been granted to landless labourers, members of ST/SC Tribes or where there is already a school, dispensary or other public utility on the land.
In January, 2011, in Civil Appeal No. 436/2011 arising out of SLP (C) No.20203/2007 (State of Jharkhand & Others –Vs– Pakur Jagaran Manch) with Civil Appeal No. 437/2011 arising out of SLP (C) No. 20636/2007 (Rocky Murmu –Vs– Pakur Jagaran Manch), it was ordered that whenever the gochar in a village is de-reserved and diverted to non-grazing use, simultaneously or at least thereafter the State should make available alternative land as gochar, in a manner and to a extent that the gochar continues to be not less than 5% of the total extent of the village.
It has been made amply clear by the Apex Court for the protection of village common lands, particularly VGRs and PGRs.
Tribal Belt & Blocks are compact areas created for those classes of people who on account of their traditional way of life and educationally and material disadvantages are vulnerable to this possession from the land by non-tribals.
Section 165 (1) under Chapter-X of the Assam Land and Revenue Regulation, 1886 provides that in case of unsettled land under Tribal Belt & Blocks, any person, who without authority has encroached upon or occupied land, it shall be liable to ejectment forthwith.
Section 165 (2) of the Regulation provides that in case of annually settled land, persons other than settlement-holders, if found in occupation thereof, are also be liable to ejection forthwith.
Section 165 (3) of the Regulation provides that in case of periodically settled land, person who have entered into occupation without valid authority from the land-holder, or whose entry or occupation is or has come about in a manner, inconsistent with the provisions of Chapter X, shall be liable to eviction, after service of one months notice.
Section 3 of the Assam Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2010 states that land grabbing in any form is unlawful and any act connected with or arising out of land grabbing shall be a cognizable offence under the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 and punishable under this Act.
Section 4(1) of the Act provides that no person shall commit or cause to be omitted land grabbing.
Section 4(2) of the Act provides that no person shall, on or after the commencement of this Act, continue to be in occupation, otherwise than as a lawful tenant, of a grabbed land belonging to the Govt., State Govt. undertaking, local authority, religious or charitable institution or endowment including a wakf, or other private person.
Section 7 of the Act provides that there shall be a Special Tribunal for the purpose of enquiry into any alleged act of land grabbing and trial of cases in respect of the ownership and title to or lawful possession of the land grabbed and the Court of District and Sessions Judge having jurisdiction over the area shall be Special Tribunal for the purpose of this Act and shall include Additional District and Sessions Judge having jurisdiction over the area.
Rule 6 (1) framed under the Act provides that application filed before the Special tribunal may be referred for local inspection or verification or both by the Revenue Circle Officer having jurisdiction over the area or by any other Officer of the Govt. authorized by the Special Tribunal.
Rule 6 (2) of the Act provides that Revenue Circle Officer or any other Officer authorized by the Special Tribunal to whom the application has been referred shall make or cause to be made an inspection or verification or both, as soon as may be practicable and submit full and complete report within two weeks from the date of receipt of order on the following grounds: