The petitioner submitted a representation to the Hon'ble Chief Minister to grant patta(regularization) to the encroachers in lakes/water bodies, which no longer retain the characteristic of a water body.
The representation was submitted with reference to the subject encroachment in Korattur Eri and a request was made for the grant of patta(regularisation) by reclassifying the lands in question. The petitioner stated that the Government issued order, for which 40,000 families submitted applications for the grant of pattas, which was a great reprieve for the weaker sections of the society.
The Writ Petitions were filed as PILs seeking for Writ of Declaration to declare the encroachments in water bodies and water courses, construction made thereon either with or without permission of the State by way of reclassification or issuance of patta, to be declared unconstitutional, illegal, and crime against mankind and consequently for direction to remove all types of encroachment, restore all water bodies or water course to their original shape, size, capacity etc., and to initiate departmental and/or criminal action against the wrong doing officials.
The Writ Petition was denied of by issuing directions, out of which few are below:-
The State Government is at liberty to consider, in appropriate cases, grant of alternative sites for re-location of the encroachers, as per their policy decision. All the authorities concerned like the police officials as well as the legal authorities, will extend their full co-operation to the PWD/District Collectors for effectively implementing the policy decision of the Government of removal of encroachments from water bodies.
The Government Orders, with particular reference to encroachments in water bodies are in clear violation of the public trust doctrine.
Moreover, Under constitution of India, Article51-A states that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India, among others, to protect and improve the national environment including lakes, forests, wildlife, and rivers and to have compassion for living creatures. This Article is not only fundamental in the governance of the country but a duty on the State to apply these principles in making laws and further to be kept in mind in understanding the scope and purport of the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution including Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution and also the various laws enacted by Parliament and the State Legislatures. But unfortunately, the State, by passing the above said Government Orders, actively encourages encroachers of water bodies, to indulge in unlawful and illegal activities and stresses on regularizing their possession which has to be disapproved.
(Patta: A Patta is a legal document issued by the Government in the name of the actual owner of a particular plot of land. It can also be issued for lands having buildings or individual houses etc. constructed on them.)