Ground Story – Long fight of Anuj Kumar against Land Mafias of Delhi

The battle against land mafias is a battle for justice, equality, and the preservation of our shared resources

Like in any other country india also have problems related to possession and ownership of immovable properties but when it comes to a land and house it become more complicated. With the help of first amendment 1951, Government of India tried to resolve this complexities and add 9th schedule in the Constitution of india. After this Right to property becomes a legal right instead of fundamental right which was guaranteed in Constitution of India, government explicitly made lots of provisions through which they can legally acquire property for the development of country.

Doctrine of eminent domain-
The doctrine of eminent domain in its general connotation means the supreme power of the King or the Government under which the property of a person can be taken over in the interest of the general public. It is the power of the King or the Government to take over the property of a private person when it is needed for the public purpose.
It is based on two maxims: 1) SALUS POPULI EST SUPREMA LEX which means the welfare of the people is the paramount law, and 2) NECESSITA PUBLIC MAJOR EST QUAM, which means public necessity is greater than the private necessity.
Etymologically, ‘eminent domain’ is a derivative of the Latin term dominium-eminens which means the supreme Lordship. In the modern sense, ‘eminent domain’ means the supreme power of the State/Government to acquire private immovable property for a public purpose.
The doctrine of eminent domain is imbibed in the Constitution of India under Articles 300A and 31A. Besides, there are enactments like the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 for the exercise of the power of an eminent domain.
But with the rapid urbanization of india, the land and house related problems become more and more complex specially the areas where land mafia are in dominating condition, the national capital region is one of the example of such of areas.
The term “land mafia” typically refers to illegal and corrupt activities related to land acquisition and property development. Delhi, like many other major cities, has had instances of land-related illegal activities in the past. These activities often involve land grabbing, unauthorized construction, and corruption within the real estate sector.

Land mafias in Delhi, as in other places, can have several negative effects on common people:
1.Forced Evictions: Land mafias often target vulnerable communities and illegally occupy their land, leading to forced evictions and displacement of residents, causing significant hardship.
2.Property Fraud: Common people may unknowingly purchase property from land mafias, only to find out later that the documents are fake or invalid, resulting in the loss of their investments.
3.Intimidation and Violence: Land mafias have been known to use intimidation, threats, and violence to control land, which can instill fear in local residents and hinder their daily lives.
4.Disruption of Infrastructure: Illegal land encroachments can disrupt urban planning and infrastructure development, leading to inadequate public services and amenities for residents.
5.Impact on Land Prices: The presence of land mafias can distort property markets, causing property prices to fluctuate unpredictably and affecting the affordability of housing for common people.
6.Legal Battles: Victims of land mafia activities often face lengthy and costly legal battles to reclaim their land or property, which can be emotionally and financially draining.
As per the statistics –
1,000 acres of prime Delhi land encroached by land sharks and squatters
While the government and the civic bodies struggle to identify land for developmental projects, the land mafia and grabbers have so far cornered more than 1,000 acres of village land in the national capital.
Historically, areas on the outskirts of Delhi, where urbanization was expanding rapidly, were more susceptible to land mafia activities. These areas often faced issues related to illegal land encroachments, unauthorized construction, and land disputes.

The story of life long fight of Anuj Kumar-

Interview with Anuj kumar:
Anuj kumar (Native- Aligarh) came to delhi with his elder brother in search of work in 1989. As they were from Aligarh, they started a business of locker and became key-merchant in Delhi. Initially, they lived as a tenant for some years and then buy their own small house of 20 gaj.  After years of hardwork, in 2003 they decided to buy a bigger house. In search of that they met a dealer named Seespal Singh, who show them a plot of 50 gaj in Laxmi park, Nangloi but the price was too high for Anuj kumar that is Rs.2450/gaj so he denied the offer. After few days the owner of that plot, Nargis Sangwan called Anuj kumar and make him a offer of 1900/gaj and the additional commission of 25/gaj for his dealer. Anuj Kumar accepted the offer and purchased the plot.
But when Victim tried to start the construction of his house, Seespal singh demanded his commission as he initiated that deal. Victim refused, so Seespal started harrassing him and creating obstacle in the construction of house. Seespal also threat the construction workers and warn them not to work for Anuj kumar. It was going very hard for Anuj kumar to complete the work but somehow he managed to construct a single storey house, in which he started a general store and also sell hardware products.
Everything was going well but after sometime Seespal singh again start harassing him and ask him to give the items on pay later system on higher price and assure the victim that he will recover all money if he gets his commission but Anuj kumar denied and put a notice on his shop stated that “jamanti ko commission nhi milega, udhaar dena band hai”. After that Seespal singh brings a cow and tie that cow in front of his shop and used to beat her every evening and make a taunt “khhute se bandhi reh,pr dudh mat dena”. And continuously annoy him in every possible way.
Anuj kumar went to an MLA named Master Bijender, who gave him a letter and recommend him to go to Nangloi thana but police did not respond accordingly.
After 15 days, police called and asked him to come to police station around 10:30 p.m. When he went there with his brother, police beat him and his brother brutally (physically and mentally harass them) and tried to make them the accused of “Ganja smuggling”. But Somehow they managed to escape from police station around 2:30 a.m. After this incident they got depressed and locked themselves in their own house for months. After few months they decided to give a complaint to SP for some help (he still have copy of that complaint) but did not get any fruitful response.
After this incident a group of armed goons with illegal weapons “Desi katta” came to their house (20 gaj) to threat victim and his brother. At that time victim was not there so they hostage his brother and took a signature of him on blank paper. After some days, When victim came back to his house, his brother warned him to go back to village otherwise they will kill Anuj kumar. But somehow he managed to enter the house and got to know about the incident, he called the police and elaborate the incident. Police took a strong action and caught some accused and managed to arrest nearly 28 members of that arm cell racket. For a purpose of negotiation with those people, Police offered anuj kumar Rs.28,000 which he refused and in return asked the police to make sure that those goons will not come to their house in future.
On 15th mar, 2006 morning, when Anuj kumar went to open his shop, there was a notice on his shop claimed that it was Supreme Court notice for sealing that shop. He went to Nihal Vihar chauki to understand the matter where police said that this is a court order they cannot do anything in such matter and suggested him to shut the shop down till next order. So he started to sell the goods at discounted price and start suffering huge losses. Even at that time Seespal singh and his people continuously mentally harass him and asked him to leave the house as soon as possible. When victim did not get any ray of hope, On the date of 18th march 2006 he tried to commit a suicide in that vary shop.
After some days, anuj kumar had to go to his village, he appoints 2 of his relatives to care of his house after him. Seespal singh threaten them also and make them leave. When he came back, he decided to resolve the court issue permanently. In this meantime, A journalist Akhilesh Dwivedi (samaj sarjan times) came to him and offer a help and asked him to give Rs.20,000 to Akhilesh Dwivedi and Seespal Singh so that they can resolve Supreme Court issue. They took Anuj kumar to Supreme Court and leave him alone at the gate of Supreme Court after taking all the money and escape.
After that he filed RTI to understand the validity of Supreme Court notice, but in return he did not get a satisfied response about the validity of court notice, but SHO gave him false assurance that he will look into the matter and resolve it. In the meantime, his shop remains closed.
In 2011, when Anuj kumar decided to continue his shop again, Seespal singh with some people attack on his shop and beat him brutally. After some days they set fire in his shop. Everything burn to ashes, he left with nothing. When he complaint for the incident, the police said they filed the cases but did not give any receiving.
Even till date the shop is remain close and the victim is force to work as a daily-wages worker (Dihadi-majdoor). Seespal singh and his people is still physically & mentally harassing him. The recent case of such type happened on 31st July, 2018, for which victim filed a compliant.

There are some legal remedies available

Specific Relief Act, 1963 
Section 5: Recovery of specific immovable property.
Section 6: Suit by person dispossessed of immovable property.
Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 
Section 145: Procedure where dispute concerning land or water is likely to cause a breach of peace.
A victim who realizes trespassing or illegal dispossession can file a written complaint with the Station House Officer (SHO). In addition, a written complaint can be sent to the Superintendent of Police (S.P) of the district where the property is situated by way of registered post or by visiting the concerned police station. In case the Superintendent of Police fails to acknowledge the complaint, a personal complaint in the concerned court can be filed through an advocate and the case can then be followed through a Special Power of Attorney when the owner cannot make his presence in the court. But the mere existence of a dispute between private parties will not invoke jurisdiction under Section 145 unless the Magistrate is satisfied that such private dispute is also likely to cause disturbance of peace and public tranquillity.
Transfer of Property Act 1882
Avoid further transfer of ownership on the property
Section 52: During the pendency in any court having authority within the limits of India [excluding the State of Jammu and Kashmir] 
Government or established beyond such limits by the Central Government of any suit or proceedings which is not collusive and in which any right to immovable property is directly and specifically in question, the property cannot be transferred or otherwise dealt with by any party to the suit or proceeding so as to affect the rights of any other party thereto under any decree or order which may be made therein, except under the authority of the court and on such terms as it may impose.
But we can see these remedies are not sufficient when it comes to deal with cunning land mafias and that is why person like Anuj Kumar is feeling helpless and compel to face such type of horrifying conditions. So as a country if India really wants to implement rule of law in its true meaning we will have to have take appropriate legislative measures.

Editor’s note

The editor put forth the concept of illegal land acquisition in india, particularly in delhi, and also the negative effects of such crime on common people like Anuj Kumar,
The editor has also mentioned the remedies available for such crimes, but the problem related to illegal land acquisition is becoming more and more brutal day by day and the way our legal system is handling is also draconian. We have a explicitly give provision through which anyone can get rid of it but dose it really accessible to those people who comes from the last line of society, this is still a debatable question.
The issue of land mafias is one that demands our immediate attention and concerted efforts. In recent years, the unchecked expansion of these criminal networks has had far-reaching consequences on our societies, economies, and the rule of law.
Land mafias, often operating in the shadows, have exploited legal loopholes, manipulated land records, and engaged in coercive tactics to wrongfully acquire land. This has not only displaced vulnerable communities but also undermined the foundations of equitable land distribution and urban planning.
This editorial highlights the urgent need for stringent legislative measures, increased transparency in land transactions, and the empowerment of local communities to safeguard their land rights. It is crucial that we, as a society, come together to confront this pervasive issue and protect the rights of individuals and communities to their rightful land holdings. The battle against land mafias is a battle for justice, equality, and the preservation of our shared resources.

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