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Local residents can use the road locked in the Army area as there is no alternative route to connect residence to main road: Sikkim High Court

The local residents of the area of Syari suffered great difficulties and harassment as their single route to connect their place of residence to the main road had been locked because of the fencing by the Army personnel and was assigned to the army. The court allowed for a collaborative approach with both the local residents and Army personnel resolving this amicably. The Hon’ble High Court of Sikkim took cognizance of the matter as a Public Interest Litigation (hereinafter referred to PIL). This matter has been treated as a PIL on the basis of a letter dated 3rd March 2020 by the Petitioner, Mr S.S Hamal on behalf of the Public of Syari, East Sikkim, Gangtok who were barred from using the footpath along with the entry point from the Army area, Ganju Lama Dwar, Ward no. 01, 02, 03 and 04 under Syari, East Sikkim. The Hon’ble Court of Sikkim through the division bench led by Chief Justice Biswanath Somadder and Justice Meenakshi Madan Rai, in the Public of Syari v. Union of India(UoI) & Ors. [W.P. (PIL) No. [02/2020]].

The local residents of the above-mentioned wards were using the footpath for many years. Later, because of the fencing of the entire Army area by the Army personnel, it locked the area and barred the residents from commuting through the said route. As there was no alternative route for them to connect their residence from the main road, this issue led to harassment and great difficulties for the public.

As this matter had been long-awaited, several affidavits had been filed. The court specifically took notice of the affidavit affirmed by the Special Secretary of Land Revenue and Disaster Management Department, Government of Sikkim, Gangtok, East Sikkim dated 21st September 2021. Paragraph 4 of the affidavit passed certain resolutions. The court took cognizance of the following resolutions.

Firstly, the road from ‘VC Ganju Lama Dwar’, Deorali to Syari, falling under the jurisdiction of the Indian Army will remain open for commuters and for Public Transport till an alternative solution is worked out. “There will be no restrictions for transportation of essential commodities, milk supply and others necessary items from this road/route. The contact no. of concerned person (Army) will be displayed on the Ganju Lama Dwar in case any sort of permission is required for emergency entry and exit. An Alternative road will be constructed subject to NOC from the landowners. Principal Chief Engineer, Roads and Bridges Department, GOS will facilitate to carry out the survey of the proposed alternative road in consultations with the public of the area if NOC for the same is obtained. Also, the village Panchayat will work on the modalities for the identification of genuine vehicles/persons entering the gate.

These resolutions were agreed by all concerned parties including the representatives from the Army, the court took notice that the parties have arrived at an amicable solution. The High Court of Sikkim directed “We are of the view that this Public Interest Litigation can be disposed of with a direction upon all concerned to adhere to the Resolution which was agreed upon by all and passed on 29th July 2021, in a meeting held under the Chairmanship of the Hon’ble Minister, Shri Kunga Nima Lepcha, at the Hon’ble Minister’s chamber.”

The Hon’ble High of Sikkim disposed of this PIL accordingly.

Click here to read the Judgement

Judgement reviewed by- Pranav Vyas

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