NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday came down heavily on the General Officer Commanding of Telangana-Andhra Sub-Area (TASA) for deliberate violation of a trial court order giving possession of a land to a civilian and using the might of armed forces to raze down the boundary wall on that land.
Even before additional solicitor general S V Raju could open the case files, a bench of Chief Justice N V Ramana and Justices Krishna Murari and Hima Kohli said, “Armed forces are meant to protect the country and not the ego of an individual who thinks he has the might of armed forces.”
“The Army lost the claim on the piece of land in every court and still did not bother as you (GOC) think you can send the Army to dispossess a civilian. Give us the name of the officer and we will send him to jail,” the bench said.
When Raju attempted to defend the action of the Army by arguing that the land of the civilian is not demarcated and that made the Army believe that the civilian was encroaching on the armed forces land, the bench said, “Do you think we are like children to be swayed by such arguments? Can a commoner challenge the might of the Army?”
The bench dismissed the Centre’s appeal against the Telangana HC order refusing to stay the trial court order sending the GOC to jail for willful violation of the court order granting ownership of the land to civilians by recognising their adverse possession for more than a century and half.
However, the SC ordered that the Major General would not be taken to jail. “If we hear any such complaint against him in future, he will go to jail,” the bench warned.
The case has a checkered history as the land, on which the present establishment of TASA is set up, was acquired initially by the Nizam of Hyderabad for military purposes over 100 years ago. The defence establishment had filed a civil suit in the year 1971 claiming ownership over nine acres of land, which it claimed was encroached upon by civilians.
The civilian defendants claimed ownership over the land through adverse possession for over 160 years. A Secunderabad civil court had dismissed the suit filed by the Army, which was upheld by the HC.
With the Army troubling them over possession of land, the civilians sought execution of the decree and the trial court on January 27, 2021 ordered that the General Officer Commanding and the Defense Estate Officer be sent to civil prison for two months each for their willful disobedience and violation of the decree of permanent injunction passed by the court on December 11, 2017. It had also asked them to repair the boundary wall the army had damaged.