The High Court today upheld a government decision that declared 13,000 acres of land at Jaintapur and Asampara in Sylhet as reserved forest area.
Delivering verdict on two separate writ petitions, the HC observed that the 13,000 acres of land in Jaintapur and Asampara are state property and it cannot remain under individual ownership.
The HC bench of Justice Zubayer Rahman Chowdhury and Justice Kazi Zinat Hoque delivered the verdict through rejecting two separate writ petitions challenging the legality of a gazette notification issued by the government in 1985 and declaring the 13,000 acres of land as reserved forest area.
Deputy Attorney General Sheikh Saifuzzaman told The Daily Star that around 13,000 acres of land in Sylhet had been acquired in 1948 and some of the land were allocated for the refugees who had come from Assam in India.
The Bangladesh government in 1985 issued a gazette notification declaring the land as reserved forest area. The total land is now under the forest department.
Nineteen people including Md Rafiqul Islam and Abdul Motaleb filed two separate writ petitions with the HC in 2012 and 2014 challenging the legality of the 1985 gazette notification.
They claimed in the petitions that they were “mohajer” (refugees) from Assam in India and they are the owners of the land.
The HC then issued two separate rules asking the government to explain why the gazette notification declaring the land as reserved forest area should not be declared illegal.
After holding hearing on the rules, the HC bench today rejected the writ petitions as the petitioners could not prove that they were “mohajer” and they could not produce any document in support of their claim, DAG Saifuzzaman said.
Replying to a query, DAG Saifuzzaman said the total land is now under the possession of the forest department of the government.
He could not provide details about the writ petitioners.
Writ petitioners’ lawyer Chowdhury Sanwar Ali could not be reached for his comments on this issue.