Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday issued a notice to the Haryana government on a plea against deployment of gram sachiv (village Panchayat secretaries) to transfer the village land in favour of private individuals under the Svamitva (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) scheme.
A division bench comprising Justice Ritu Bahri and Justice Archana Puri issued the notice after taking cognisance of a petition filed by Balbir Singh of Yamunanagar and 37 other gram sachivs working in the development and Panchayat department, Haryana. The petitioners have sought directions to quash the instructions dated April 29,whereby they have been directed to execute registered title deeds of the land in lal dora under the Svamitva scheme in favour of village residents in capacity of `first party’, thereby representing Sarpanch/gram Panchayat of each village.
It has been submitted that the petitioners lack competence for that purpose and neither the Svamitva scheme nor the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act 1994 or the earlier instructions dated September 25, 2020, confer any such power on the petitioners.
The petitioners, who are working as gram sachiv in various blocks of Yamunanagar district, have submitted that such authorization is beyond the duties and functions which gram sachiv is obliged to perform under Section 15 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Act 1994 read with rule 11 of the Haryana Panchayati Raj Rules 1995. According to them, only gram Panchayat Sarpanch has the right to enter into title deeds as first party.
The Union government launched the Svamitva scheme to provide an integrated property validation solution for rural India wherein the demarcation of the abadi (inhabited) land in rural areas would be done using drone surveying technology with the collaborative efforts of the Ministry of Panchayati Raj, state Panchayati Raj Department, State Revenue Department and Survey of India. In the ultimate consequence of the said survey, the village house hold owners possessing houses in inhabited rural areas in villages will be provided with a record of rights. which would enable them to use their property as a financial asset for taking loans and other financial benefits from banks.
HC has been informed that block development and Panchayat officers (BDPOs) are currently appointed as administrators of gram Panchayats, since the term of gram Panchayats in Haryana has ended. They have issued written as well as oral instructions directing gram sachivs to sign the tile deeds as the first party with regard to properties under Svamitva scheme.
“Execution of the title deeds by gram sachivs would not only lead to creation of anomalous situation but will also prejudice the interest of both the petitioners as well as the inhabitants of village or owner of properties as the execution of the title deeds on the basis of which the property cards will be given to the village will suffer from the vice of per se illegality,” argued the petitioners.