(1.) THE petitioner has filed the present writ petition praying for a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to renew the lease of the plot in question and further not to interfere in the possession during the lease period. The facts leading to the filing of the writ petition as disclosed in the writ petition is, that the petitioner alleges that a lease of plot of forest land measuring 90 ft x 45 ft. was granted in favour of the petitioner under the Government Grants Act on 25th October, 1974 with retrospective effect with 1st January, 1954 for a period of 30 years. In this lease, it was stipulated that the total period of the lease would be 90 years and that the lease could be renewed twice at enhanced rates. The petitioner contended that pursuant to the grant of the aforesaid lease, the petitioner was paying the lease rent and the same was being accepted by the Forest Department. The petitioner contended that as far back as on 24th July, 1977, the petitioner had written a letter to the Divisional Forest Officer to furnish details of the premium which the petitioner was required to pay and, in response to that, the Divisional Forest Officer by its order dated 28th July, 1977 provided the details to the petitioner with regard to the premium that was to be deposited. It is contended that the petitioner deposited the amount and raised a driveway toilet and rest rooms for the purpose for which the lease was granted to him.
(2.) IT was contended that the lease expired after 30 years in the year 1983 and, consequently, letters were written by the petitioner for the renewal of the lease. It was contended that the Divisional Forest Officer by a letter dated 24th October, 1983 directed the petitioner to complete the various formalities for the purpose of the renewal of the lease. It is contended that the petitioner complied and completed the formalities in spite of which the lease was not renewed. In this regard, several letters were written to the authorities, representations were made but for reasons best known, the renewal of the lease was not made and, consequently, the petitioner filed this petition in the year 1994 before the Allahabad High Court praying for a writ of mandamus commanding the respondents to renew the lease in favour of the petitioner.
The Court while entertaining the writ petition, issued an order dated 27th January, 1994 staying the dis-possession of the petitioner but subsequently by an order dated 8th August, 1996, the interim order was vacated by the High Court. The matter remained pending and it transpires that the disputed land was transferred by the respondents to the U.P.S.R.T.C. by an order dated 5th September, 2000. The petitioner, being aggrieved by the transfer of the said land to the U.P.S.R.T.C., filed another writ petition and prayed for the quashing of the said order. Both the writ petitions have been connected together and, upon the creation of the State of Uttarakhand, these two petitions have been transferred to this Court and are being decided together.
The counter affidavit of the Forest Department reveals some further facts, namely, that the petitioner had encroached the forest land and was an unauthorized occupant. The disputed land was a part of Ram Nagar Reserve Forest in the Malani Range and the eviction proceedings were initiated against the petitioner on 26th July, 1973. In these proceedings, the petitioner applied for withdrawal of the eviction proceedings and for regularization of his possession. The Divisional Forest Officer by an order dated 31st August, 1973 directed the petitioner to deposit a sum of Rs.1,600/- to consider the plea for withdrawal of the case. The said amount was deposited by the petitioner and, by an order dated 13th September, 1973, the eviction proceedings were withdrawn without giving any right to the petitioner with regard to his possession.
(3.) IT transpires that on the request of the petitioner for regularization of his possession, a proposal to grant lease to the petitioner was sent by the Forest Department to the State Govt. This was done with the ostensible purpose to regularize the encroachment of the petitioner on the land in question. The State Govt. considered the request of the Forest Department and, by an order dated 6th December, 1974, agreed to sanction a lease in favour of the petitioner for a period of 30 years with retrospective effect from 1954 on certain terms and conditions. Based on the said order of the Government, the petitioner was informed accordingly by the Divisional Forest Officer and the terms and conditions was accepted by the petitioner. Amounts as directed under the Government Order and as directed by the Divisional Forest Officer from time to time was deposited by the petitioner. On 18th May, 1976, the draft of the lease was sent to the State Govt. for approval. The counter affidavit reveals that from time to time certain objections were raised by the State Govt. with regard to the fact as to whom the lease is required to be executed, namely, in the name of the individual or in the name of the firm. As a result of all this correspondence, the counter affidavit indicates that no lease was executed and the period of 30 years expired in 1983.
Since no lease was executed between the parties and the period expired, a proposal was sent for renewal of the lease and on such proposal, the Forest Department again started the correspondence with the petitioner as well as with the State Govt. Eventually, the State Government issued an order dated 18th September, 1993 holding that it was no longer proper to grant a lease to a private institution for commercial purpose on a forest land which is covered under the Forest Conservation Act 1980 and, consequently, directed the authorities to take steps for taking back the possession from the petitioner. The Counter affidavit reveals that in November, 1993, proceedings were initiated against the petitioner for his eviction under the U.P. Public Premises (Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants) Act, 1972.;