Decided on December 23,1970

Shri Ngurohiezao Angami And Ors. Appellant
Sub -Divisional Officer (Civil) And Sub -Divisional Magistrate And Ors. Respondents


Pathak, Ag. C.J. - (1.) CIVIL Rule No. 237/70 arises out of a petition filed by one Ngurohie.zao Angami on behalf of himself and the villagers of Tenyiphe Village District Kohima, Nagaland. The case is that he is a resident of village Tenyiphe in the District la in the State of Nagaland. He to belongs to Angami Scheduled Tribe and Chairman of Tenyiphe village Council constituted in accordance with and practice followed from time immemorial amongst the Angami tribe residing in Nagaland.. The area in occupation of the members of the Angami tribe since the time immemorial is the entire area within the following boundaries: On the North up to Dimapur, on the South - -starting from Mao, on the West -from Dzulake and on the East upto Saiduma. According to customs prevalent amongst the Angami tribe, the members thereof are entitled to occupy, use and enjoy lands within the above area for their own cultivation and residence by forming; villages under different Village Councils. In 1951 Angami villagers residing in the villages Zakhama Viswema, Khuzema, Kohima. Jotsoma, Khonoma, Miazuma, Merema, Pfuchama, Tophema, Chiechema, Kigwema, Puesama and other villages in the Naga Hills decided to shift to other Angami areas due to over -population and scarcity of cultivable land in their villages, and the land situated by the side of Imphal -Dimapur Road in between six and seven mile -stones being found to be covered by jungles and not inhabited by others, the villagers of the aforesaid villages shifted to the aforesaid lands and constructed a village known as Tenyiphe village. The villagers reclaimed the land after hard toil and made it fit for cultivation and residence. The Petitioner further states that the members of the Angami tribe have the right to occupy and enjoy the said lands by virtue of Customary law prevalent in Nagaland followed from time immemorial. In the said Tenyiphe village about 915 villagers with members of their families are permanently settled and started cultivation of land in their respective areas under the supervision and guidance of the Village Council constituted by the villagers. The villagers informed the authorities through the Petitioner about the constitution of the village and they also performed all customary rites including the rite known as "Cena". That the villagers of Tenyiphe village have spent more than 8 lakhs of rupees in reclaiming -the land and raising cultivation thereon. They are raising paddy, mustard seed and other staple food on the land. The villagers informed the authorities from time to time about the constitution of the new village and even on 17 -2 -68 the Petitioner on behalf of the villagers informed the Deputy Commissioner, Kohima about the permanent settlement of the villagers in the village with the request not to allow the members of other tribes to occupy lands within Angami area. No objection was raised by the authorities of the State Government at any earlier stage to the constitution of the new village and the use and occupation of the lands in question by the villagers settled In that village permanently. That in first part of February, 1970 notices dated 29 -1 -70 issued by the Sub -Divisional Officer (Civil), Dimapur were received by some villagers of Tenyiphe village requiring them to dismantle their houses or to show cause within seven days from the date of issue of the said notice as to why the 'Kheti huts' constructed by the villagers should not be demolished, failing which why they should not be evicted there from forthwith without any further reference. After the service of the notices the Petitioner along with some other villagers represented to the Extra Assistant Commissioner of Dimapur, Respondent No. 3 personally to grant further time to show cause against the action proposed in the notices. Respondent No. 3, however, observed that the lands being Government lands there was no necessity of giving notice and they would be evicted from the land by use of force. Thereafter the houses of a number of villagers were demolished and their cultivation was destroyed by police force and armed force with the assistance of elephants during the period from 18th February to 21st February, 1970. That the villagers whose houses were demolished and cultivation destroyed not having any other land for their residence and cultivation, are still in occupation of the lands in the village by constructing temporary sheds in places of their permanent Ones. The villagers whose houses were not demolished during the period from 18th February to 21st February, 1970, are still residing in the village with members of their families having their houses and standing cultivation on the land. Thereafter the Petitioner submitted a person dated 28 -2 -70 before the Sub -Divisional Officer, Dimapur, Respondent No. 1 objecting to the action of the authorities in the matter of attempted eviction of the villagers and prayed for giving them hearing before the disposal of the objection. The Respondent No. 1 without giving any, hearing to the Petitioner and others and without considering the various facts and points raised in the petition dated 28 -2 -70 passed an order on 2 -3 -70 rejecting the said objection.
(2.) BY this writ petition the Petitioner has challenged the aforesaid notice dated 29 -1 -7Q and the order dated 2 -3 -70 passed by the Sub Divisional Officer, Dimapur. Annexure I to the petition is the impugned notice and Annexure III to the petition is the impugned order.
(3.) MR . B.C. Barua, the learned Counsel appearing for the Petitioner submits that the lands in question are in possession of the Petitioner and his co -villagers and they have got their houses thereon and they have not been dispossessed as yet. The learned Counsel submits that there Is no law authorising the Government to evict these persons and that the impugned notice and order were issued and passed without any authority of law and as such these are wholly without jurisdiction and liable to be quashed.;

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