KATHMANDU, Jan 2: The Supreme Court (SC) has recently directed the government authorities not to remove 309 households of 'squatters' from a public land in Madhyabindu Municipality, Nawalparasi. The squatters have been living there for long.
The SC order issued in response to a writ petition they had lodged challenging the decision of the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) to 'retrieve' the land from the squatters, stating that it was illegally given to them by the Squatters Settlement Committee.
On December 23, 2012, the constitutional anti-graft body directed the government authorities - Land Revenue Office and Land Reform Office - to retrieve the jungle and public land tentatively spreading over more than twelve bighas.
The full text of the judgment recently issued by a division bench of Chief Justice Gopal Parajuli and justice Tej Bahadur KC states: “A mandamus has been issued in the name of the CIAA against the violation of the rights of the petitioners from enjoying to transfer land, mortgage or any other way of transaction according to their wish.”
The constitutional anti-graft body had directed the authorities to retrieve the land in the previous condition. However, the petitioners moved the apex court stating that they possessed the land under the principle of servitude and claimed that they had been residing there since 1970 with the decision of Tribeni panchabhela and two years later Nawajagaran Primary School was established in the area. Stating that offices such as drinking water, school, health post, bank, college, police post, telecom office justified their claim of servitude over the land.
After the squatters' problem escalated, the government formed the Squatters Problem Solution Commission in 1999 and a District Committee was also formed to look into the problems in Nawalparasi district. The District Committee under the chairmanship of Hariraj Gautam had decided to handover the huge forest land of Ward No 4 and 7 of Tamsariya VDC to the squatters on September 24, 2000. Later, Manshobha Pandey's committee had also upheld the previous committee's decision and continued their stay on the land.
Three hundred nine locals including Shyam Prasad Dhakal, Khumadevi Dhakal and Ram Bahadur Bohara who received the land with the capacity of squatters had challenged the CIAA's decision at the apex court.