2 people died in police firing in Assam during the eviction drive in September 2021
In a significant development, the Gauhati High Court has ordered the Assam government to resettle 100 families evicted during a drive in Dhalpur's Gorukhuti.
The order came on a petition filed by Assam's Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia.
They were evicted in 2021; it had turned violent and two people, including a boy, were killed in police firing.
"After hearing the counsel for the parties, what is discernible is that approximately 700 families were evicted from their respective lands and that in respect of the land from which the evictions were made, there is also a cabinet decision to set up an agro farm/model project in the Sipajhar area of Darrang district of Assam," the court said.
"After perusal of the PIL (public interest litigation) as well as hearing the counsel for the petitioner, no material nor any ground could be pointed out to enable the court to arrive at any such conclusion so as to interfere with a cabinet decision of the government of Assam to set up an agro farm/model project at Sipajhar," the court said.
"We have taken note of a statement made by J Handique, counsel for the Revenue and Disaster Management Department of the government of Assam, from the records and information provided to him by the departmental officials that approximately about 700 families were affected in the eviction that had been carried forward pursuant to the aforesaid cabinet decision that may have been taken," the court said.
"A further statement is made upon information being provided by the departmental officials that in the meantime about 600 families have already been resettled by giving alternative plots of land. What remains is that the balance of about approximately 100 families have not been provided with adequate rehabilitation," the court said.
"As 600 families have already been rehabilitated out of the approximately700 families who were evicted, we are of the view that no further consideration is required in this PIL other than in respect of those balance approximately 100 families, who, according to the counsel for the petitioner, are yet to be rehabilitated, which is also an admitted position of the respondents in the Revenue and Disaster Management Department," the high court said.
The court then said the 100 families should give individual applications before the Deputy Commissioner, Darrang, providing in detail all material that may support their claim for allotment of any alternative land for rehabilitation.
"We further provide that in the event any such application is made, the Deputy Commissioner shall pass individual reasoned orders within a period of six months from the date of receipt of such applications from the individual applicants," the court said.
"In doing so, the Deputy Commissioner shall also give the individual applicants an opportunity of hearing and also allow them to produce any relevant material that they may intend to rely upon to substantiate their claim for allotment of land for the purpose of rehabilitation," the high court said.