The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday issued notice to the chief secretary and Principal Secretary (Revenue) on a petition seeking abolition of the lease system in the state so as to preserve the pristine glory of ‘Land of Gods’.
A division bench comprising acting Chief Justice Ravi Malimath and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed these orders on a petition taken up suo moto as Public Interest Litigation on a letter written to Chief Justice by one Rakesh Kumar of Kangra district.
The petitioner alleged that the state government has been leasing out its land for a period of 99 years in many cases and this practice is wrong and illegal since a grant of such lease will perpetually mean granting of ownership rights to the lessee for all intents and purposes.
It is also illegal that the legal heirs of the beneficiaries inherit the lease rights of the original lessee.
If such a system continues, the entire land of the state will be taken over by outsiders and the resources belonging to the state will be captured and enjoyed by those who are not entitled to it which would eventually lead to the subjugation of the residents.
He further alleged that many people have turned such leases into a source of income as for instance one hospital at Palampur has been granted perpetual lease of Rs 1 per year while the extent of land with it is around 60 kanals.
It needs to be ascertained that from such leases, how much income the government is earning and income generated by the beneficiaries, how much taxes are being paid by them, besides how much of leased land has been denuded of forest cover by the lessees. Further, it also needs to be ascertained whether there is any instance that the land has been reverted back to the state government after the completion of 99 years.
The petitioner has prayed that practice and system of granting such perpetual lease of government land be discontinued and abolished immediately forthwith, so as to preserve the pristine glory of ‘Land of Gods’, i.e. Himachal Pradesh.
The court posted the matter after two weeks and also directed the state government to file their replies by the next date.