BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh and others [‘Rangamati Eviction’ Case]

Writ Petition No. 6302 of 2006

High Court Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh

BLAST, along with representatives of twenty-three landless families, filed a writ petition challenging the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation, 1958 and a notice issued under this section by the Land and Settlement Officer (Kanungo) on 03.08.2005 settling 15.99919 acres of Khas land at Nolbunia Mauza, Barkal Upazilla of Rangamati in favour of the Upazilla Parishad, Barkal. The petitioners had been living in the aforesaid area for fifteen to thirty years with the knowledge and permission of the concerned authority and had applied for settlement for their own occupied land. Their applications, along with a recommendation from the Headman, had been pending before the Deputy Commissioner. The whole process of settlement in favor of the Upazilla Parishad was done secretly and without notifying the families. Indeed, they were orally assured that their land would be excluded from the settlement. The aggrieved families, on obtaining office copy of the impugned order made several representations, but received no response and feared eviction.

Argument: The petitioners argued that the twenty-three families were in legal occupation and peaceful possession of the land, and were entitled to remain there pursuant to Section 50 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, 1900.  They also argued that Section 3 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation, 1958, under which the impugned notice was issued, was violative of Articles 7 and 42 of the Constitution because it vests arbitrary power upon the Deputy Commissioner to acquire lands without issuance of any notice upon the occupier for raising objections and without fixation and payment of compensation. It was further submitted that there is a bar on transfer and acquisition of land in CHT without permission from the respective Hill District Council under Section 64 of the Rangamati Hill District Council Act, 1989 as amended by Act 10 of 1998 and the acquisition was also violative of the provisions of the Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Ordinance, 1982.

Order: The High Court issued a Rule Nisi on 09.07.2006 on the respondents to show cause why Section 3 of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation, 1958 should not be declared ultra vires to the Constitution and why the notice of eviction should not be declared to be made without any lawful authority and the operation of the notice was stayed for three months and the stay was extended for another three months on 16.10.2006.

Laws Cited: Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation, 1900; Chittagong Hill Tracts (Land Acquisition) Regulation, 1958; Acquisition and Requisition of Immovable Property Ordinance, 1982

Status: Pending hearing


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