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Bunglows in Camp could be resumed by Army

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The Belgaum Cantonment Board, at the last Board meeting, has passed a Resolution to allow military personnel to enter private bungalows held on ‘Old Grant’ terms as a first step to the ‘Resumption’ of these bungalows. ‘Resumption’ is a measure whereby these civilian residents are evicted from their bungalows within 30 days, without any judicial procedure and without compensation for the land.

Understandably, there has been much anger building up within the association of bungalow owners, who have begun to lobby their elected representatives and others to prevent their eviction from the bungalows which have been occupied from their ancestors’ times, about 100 odd years back.

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Their struggle is akin to the struggle of the farmers of Savagaon who are opposing the move of the Indian Army to evict them from the lands that they have always cultivated.

As a first step, 14 bungalows from B.C. 45 to B.C. 75 have been put in for “Resumption”, to provide more accommodation for the officers of the M.L.I.R.C.. However, some bungalows of some rich and powerful residents have been excluded, so that, eventually, the Army officers who live in these bungalows will have rich and powerful civilian neighbours.

Resumption” rests upon what is called an “Old Grant”.

The “Old Grant” is not a title deed to any of the bungalows. The Army has not been able to support its claim to any of these with a single registered document, where the property is defined by metes and bounds, and acquired or leased, for some consideration.

If the process of ‘Resumption’ gets underway in all 62 Cantonments of the country, as one top Army official said it soon will, then thousands of simple bungalows owners and tenants will be made homeless, while tens of thousands of hectares of land in Cantonment lie vacant . . . yielding only revenue from grass.

Then what is this “Old Grant”?

It is, as various officials of the Defence Ministry and the Army have held, an Order (No. 179) made on the 12th of September 1836 by a paid official of the East India Company, which was an ordinary English Joint-Stock Company.

The East India Company divided India into Presidencies, each with a ‘Governor’ and controlled them from Calcutta (the capital was moved to Delhi only in 1911), by a “Governor General” (a high sounding title for a paid official, who drew a monthly salary from the East India Company).

This gentleman, on 12th September 1836, passed a “General Order” (No. 179) to be promulgated in the different stations of “the Bengal Army”. According to this, all land in all Cantonments in “this Presidency” (i.e., Bengal Presidency), unless proved otherwise, was legally presumed to belong to “the Crown”.

Therefore, the land on which the bungalows stood was presumed to belong to “the Crown”. It could be “resumed” whenever it pleased “the Crown”.

The CEO of the Cantonment says he has nothing to do with the order as the order has come from the Southern Command and he is only executing the order. In the next 15 days these 14 bunglows would be measured and eventually a report would be sent to the Southern command.

Photo courtesy: Santosh

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7 COMMENTS

  1. ONLY statutory provision in which the term OL D GRANT’ found mention was rule 27 of the cantonment”s Land Administration Rules 1937 substituted by a notification No 69/6/9/C & L-441 dated 24.3,1945. It is in this sense that in the General Land Register prepared under rule 3 of those rules the term “old grant” find mention with respect to private properties. It is obvious therefore that the register was prepared after 24.3.1945 on which govt. relies. The rule runs as follows:

    “27 Special lease for the regularisation of old grants- Notwithstanding anything contained in rules 16 to 26 the Military Estates Officer i n any case where a site is held without a regular lease’ may’ on application by holder’ grant’ with the approval of the Central Government or such other authority as the Central govt may appoint for this purpose’ a lease of the said land in the form set out in Schedule VII.” It would thus appear that there was a provision of regtularisation of old grant site under a prescribed form of perpetual lease if and when the holder of the site would apply for the same; In the prescribed form there is a clear stipulation to the following effect; “WHEREAS the rights of the parties hereto i n the land and buildings hereinafter described and now occupied by the lessee(s) as do not appear to be defined in writing and the parties hereto being anxious that they should have agreed to define them by these presents'” The rule 27 was subsequently omitted by SRO 69 dated 23;.1;1970; In the face of what has been explained above is there any justification for resumption notice under a different provision of early nineteenth century terming the same as old grant?. The term old grant is therefore anachronistically referred as grant under an order of early nineteenth century.Such a resumption notice is on its very face unfounded and baseless besides being mala fide calculated to disturb the peaceful living of the civilians; What the alien could do on the concept of paramountcy of the British crown over cantonment land they not being part of any zamindari the present republican govt cannot press into service the said concept to the prejudice of the people of India. Paramountcy with its brazen faced autocracy no more survived the enactment of the CONSTITUTION (See privy purses case) ‘

  2. The following questions arise :-
    1. Why is the Army taking this step all of a sudden ?
    2. What is the basis of Army taking possession of these Bungalows ? Just because the Bungalows
    are situated in Camp they cannot be a Military property.
    3.The Army people have a superior Complex ,which I have seen in many parts of India. They
    look down upon civilians and treat them as inferior creatures..
    Shame on the Indian Army.

    • Absolutely correct. If they can get Free Bungalows & land why should they pay for it! First the ‘foreigners” looted India by making rules to suit them & Now our own people are plundering these properties without paying the Bungalow owners. That’s how our Democracy works – continue with the rules of the foreigners because there is so much money for them in it.

  3. We are still as if in the British Raj, where it is said that ” Dogs and Indians not allowed” the same has continued with the swaraj days where the Military personell say “Indians not allowed “

    • There has to be a definite judicial process. The civilian occupants and their forefathers have been occupying the Bungalows for the past 100 years. It will be Gross injustice if the occupants are evicted. The East India company’s order mentions it as land belonging to the crown. The Crown was asked to quit India way back in 1947 and the land belongs to the Govt. of India and indian citizens occupying these Bungalows have every right to protest this injustice.

    • They like to do what the British Did to india. Why not. There is so much to gain for them. Now they kick their own kith & kin & behave like the British – making a mockery of our hard won DEMOCRACY>. Freedom fighters turn in their graves —- did they really fight for this kind of freedom where their own brethren replace the British? Are we really a Democratic country?

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