The Karnataka High Court on Friday ordered issue of notices to Union and State governments on a public interest litigation petition questioning discontinuation of the task force for recovery of public land and seeking direction for protection of 11 lakh acres of encroached public land.

A vacation Division Bench comprising Justice Ram Mohan Reddy and Justice L. Narayanaswamy passed the order on the petition filed by S.R. Hiremath of the Samaj Parivarthana Samudaya and other social activists.

The petitioners have pointed out that a joint legislature committee (JLC) and the task force during the enquiry conducted between 2006 and 2001 have found that 11 lakh acres of land valued around 1.95 lakh crore, belonging to various government agencies were encroached by various private persons and organisations.

It has been contended that the task force, which was constituted in 2009 and found that 11 lakh acres of government land was encroached, was disbanded in July 2011 though the government had authorised the task force to take action against the guilty.

The petitioners have sought directions for continuation of the task force, implementation of the recommendations of the JLC and the task force, issue directions to hold investigation and prosecute the officials in cases of their connivance in allowing private individuals or organisations to encroach upon government land.

Notice to ECI

In another case, the Bench ordered issue of notice to the Election Commission of India (ECI) on a PIL petition seeking direction for incorporating a provision for registering a “negative vote” in the ballot paper and the electronic voting machines.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by city-based advocate N.P. Amrutesh. The petitioner complained that the voters have no choice to register their intent in case they do not want to vote for any candidate. The petitioner contended that there should be a special column “none of the above candidates” in the ballot paper or EVMs for enabling voters to register their negative remark.

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