Supreme court judgement on common lands - Jagpal Singh versus State of Punjab (2011) - Guest post by Subbarao Prabhala

This Supreme Court judgement on common lands, is important for preservation of water bodies and 'lung spaces'

It lays down in no uncertain terms the rights of citizens over the what in the West are called 'Commons' . Even the well-informed among us are not aware of their rights over such public spaces.

The Order states that :

  • Citizens' rights over village ponds and maidans (and by extension Parks and Playgrounds and any other common-use spaces) are not extinguished although they may be vested with the government for purposes of record.The Gram Panchayats (and equivalents by whatever name) have no authority to allot, lease, sell or dispose them off in any other manner to anyone. The only exceptions are their use for socially and economically weaker sections of society, that too only by an explicit government order.
  • Although the judgement refers to villages, from the spirit of it, one can presume that it applies equally to urban areas.
  • In so far as saving water bodies is concerned, the Order is not sufficient because it does not specifically mention the in-flow channels / catchment area as common property. One can presume that they too are covered by the Order as without an inflow or catchment, there would be no pond.

BET will take steps to ensure that the State Government circulates this landmark judgement to all local authorities in Bangalore, and ask for its implementation within a specified period. BET will also take up with authorities concerned when any violation comes to its notice.

For more information, and for any support in implementing this order in your locality in Bangalore, please write to:

Captain Subbarao Prabhala
Bangalore Environment Trust
9/8 Haudin Road,
Bangalore 560042, India

Tel: +91 80 25599603, 41536655
Email: subbaraoprabhala@yahoo.com

 

Download the order:

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