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  • According to the Jharkhand High Court, the right to shelter is a fundamental right of every citizen under the Constitution, and any violation of this right by the state must result in judicial intervention to protect the occupants of a dwelling house. 
  • The remark was made in an appeal filed against the dismissal of two writ petitions challenging a public notice for the removal of encroachments on lands allegedly owned by Ranchi Municipal Corporation. 
  • The petitioners claimed title to the land, claiming that the names of their ancestors were recorded in the cadastral survey record of rights. It was also claimed that the contested notices were issued in violation of natural justice principles.
  • The writ court had refused to hear the case, stating that the aforementioned claim could not be heard under extraordinary writ jurisdiction. 
  • Nine days later, Ranchi Municipal Corporation (RMC) served the appellants with a notice requiring them to remove the alleged illegal structures within 48 hours. 
  • The organisation claimed that the term "municipal property" in section 606 of the Jharkhand Municipal Act 2011 should not be limited to streets, footpaths, and parks, but should refer to all properties owned by RMC. 
  • It was also noted that the Jharkhand Municipal Act, 2011, clearly lays out a procedure for prosecuting a violator.
  • Section 284 and other provisions state that the Court can only take cognizance of an offence based on a written complaint made by any officer duly authorised. 
  • Section 610 states that no Court shall proceed to the trial of any offence punishable by or under this Act unless on the complaint of, or information received from, the Municipal Commissioner, the Executive Officer, or any person authorised by him by general or special order in this regard. 
  • The Court concluded that the aforementioned provisions provide RMC with sufficient guidelines and procedure wherever it intends to proceed under Section 606(2), and thus concluded that the aforementioned notices were issued with oblique motives and its actions lack bonafide.
  • The court ruled that no one can claim ownership of streets, sidewalks, or parks.
  • Encroachments on streets, footpaths, parks, and so on are treated differently, owing to the inconvenience caused to the general public.
  • The alleged encroachments by the appellants, however, are not on any public road, and RMC makes no claim that the lands in question vested in the Municipality under Section 291. 
  • Given the foregoing, the court was not inclined to accept the RMC's claim that it has the authority to remove any encroachment on municipal property simply by issuing a notice with a time limit of 48 hours.
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