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State silent on misuse of law by officers: Gujarat HC

Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday took cognizance of the state government’s silence on being questioned about its objective behind invoking the Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act, 2020 against citizens. The court asked whether the enactment was justified or it was an abuse of the law.

In an order of the Jagadish Maheta versus State of Gujarat case, single bench Justice Paresh Upadhyay quashed and set aside a detention order given by the Botad district magistrate under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) Act.

“The court finds that on the basis of facts, the impugned detention order is unsustainable and needs to be quashed and set aside. The Gujarat Land Grabbing (Prohibition) Act was invoked because the applicant had rented the ground floor from an owner and sublet the place to four others,” stated the bench.

Meanwhile in Navsari’s Pintu Patel versus State of Gujarat case, the court orally observed that online proceedings were being misused by officers.

“Even before the hard copy of the high court order reaches officers, they change their decision to invoke an Act. This is to avoid negative remarks or orders from the court against their decision. Such practice is increasing and many incidents are being reported from Navsari district,” observed Justice Upadhyay.

Based on two First Information Report(s) (FIRs) filed against the applicant, a detention order against him was issued under PASA. However, the court stayed the execution of the order. 

The court also quashed and set aside four PASA orders issued by the Gandhinagar district collector against Ketan Rawal and others.

The order stated, “The court finds that the very basis of the orders is a private dispute between parties, where the state may have little say. More often than not, it is done as a shortcut to civil litigation with the aid of the state machinery.”

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