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Water and electricity supply form a part of right to life under Article 21 of Constitution

In the High Court of Himachal Pradesh at Shimla
(Before Surya Kant, C.J and Ajay Mohan Goel, J.)

Madan Lal
State of Himachal Pradesh

CWP No. 2454 of 2018
Decided on October 22, 2018

Citation: 2018 SCC OnLine HP 1495

The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Surya Kant, C.J (Oral):—

The petitioner has constructed a residential house on the land bearing Khasra No. 2165/1586/1, Khatauni No. 195/403, situated at Mohalla Naya Bazaar, Police Line, Ward No. 6, Nahan, District Sirmaur, H.P The area of the land in possession of the petitioner is stated to be 549 sq. mtrs.

2. It further appears that eviction proceedings were initiated against the petitioner, as the land in possession where house is said to have been constructed, is owned by the State Government. The Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Nahan, ordered the petitioner’s ejectment vide order, dated 19th September, 2002, but pursuant to statutory appeal preferred by the petitioner, this Court, vide judgment, dated 12th March, 2015, passed in RSA No. 13 of 2004, remanded the case to the first appellate Court for fresh consideration. The first appellate Court has further remanded the case to the learned Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Nahan on 30th April, 2015. The title dispute is, thus, subjudice before the learned Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Nahan, under Section 163(3) of the Himachal Pradesh Land Revenue Act.

3. In the meanwhile, the petitioner applied for the electricity and water connections, but both these amenities have been denied on the premise that ‘No Objection Certificate’ has not been issued by the Municipal Council, Nahan. Learned counsel for Municipal Council submits that ‘No Objection Certificate’ cannot be issued for the petitioner, as the petitioner has not raised the construction after getting building plan sanctioned.

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4. Learned State Counsel also submits that the electricity and water connections cannot be released as the petitioner has unauthorizedly occupied the Government land and raised illegal construction, without seeking prior approval of the authorities.

5. We have heard learned counsel for the parties and gone through the record.

6. Ordinarily, this Court would be reluctant in granting relief to a person alleged to be an encroacher over the Government property, especially when the construction is also said to have been raised without getting the building plan sanctioned. At the same time, it is not expedient for us to express any view on merits, as the title dispute is subjudice before the Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Nahan. Any observation in relation to this issue is likely to have impact on the merits of that case.

7. The question that falls for consideration is whether the petitioner, as an interim measure, be allowed the basic amenities of water and electricity. There is no gain in saying that potable water or electricity are integral part of Right to Life within the meaning of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. These are basic necessities for human being and can well be termed as essentials of human rights. If the title dispute, owing to the prescription of right to appeal under the Statute remains pending for considerable long period, we see no reason to deny the petitioner’s family the basic amenities of water and electricity, subject to their payment of requisite charges. It goes without saying that in the event of petitioner’s having failed to prove his right to retain the possession, both facilities will also go alongwith the residential house.

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8. In the light of the above discussion, writ petition is allowed and is disposed of in following terms:
“(i) Subject to the petitioner’s furnishing requisite surety/guarantee, the authorities are directed to release the water and electricity connections within two weeks from the date of deposit of requisite charges/guarantees etc.;
(ii) The release of water and electricity connections will be purely an interim and ad hoc measure till the title dispute is decided;
(iii) The petitioner or his family or his successors shall not be entitled to claim benefit of electricity and water connections, as a proof of their possession over the property;
(iv) The petitioner shall continue to pay the requisite charges for electricity and water supply and in the event of any default, the authority shall be at liberty to disconnect the supply;
(v) The Assistant Collector, 1st Grade, Nahan, before whom the title dispute is pending, is directed to decide the dispute on or before 31st January, 2019 and send a compliance report to the Registrar (Judicial) of this Court; and
(vi) Appeal, if any, preferred by either party, shall also be decided within a period of four months.

9. Writ petition stands disposed of, so also pending application(s), if any. Copy dasti.

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