Observing that what the State has done so far to recover encroached government land “is too little and too late,” the Karnataka High Court on Monday asked the government to come out with a time-bound action plan to recover encroached land.

The court also asked the government to first initiate action against those who have encroached upon 100–200 acres of forest or revenue land and reaping benefit from such land for years instead of giving notices and evicting slum-dwellers or those who have encroached upon a few metres of government land.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.H. Waghela and Justice S.N. Satyanarayana issued the oral directions while hearing two public interest litigation petitions — one filed by Samaj Parivartana Samudaya and another by Bangalore Foundation — seeking directions to recover around 11 lakh acres of encroached land identified in two reports.

“Is the government making the people dishonest or making encroachment of government land profitable,” the Bench questioned when Advocate General Ravivarma Kumar pointed out that about 7 lakh acres of the total 11 lakh acres of encroached cultivable land was being considered for regularisation according to Sections 94A and 94B of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, and around 4 lakh acres of land would be considered for regularisation in view of recently introduced Section 94C in the Act for regularising certain unauthorised occupation of government land for dwelling. Mr. Kumar also stated that the government had taken action to recover around 1 lakh acres of land by issuing notices to encroachers and passing eviction order in some case. He also submitted that application for regularising cultivable land could not be processed due to expiry of the term of the previous legislature and newly elected legislators were yet to take charge of regularisation committee, and rules for regularisation of land under Section 94C were yet to be framed.

“The reports submitted by the government practically say nothing. It is horrendous that individuals have encroached 100–200 acres of land. You [government] have all the data. Prima facie, there is a gross violation. What is holding up the government from taking action? What you have done is too little and too late. You have to come out with time-bound plan explaining the strategy or else we will pass necessary orders…,” the Bench observed.

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