077.08s. Karnataka Legislature
Joint Legislature Committee on Encroachments in Bangalore Urban District
Interim Report Part- II
[Page No. 2 ]
SOME IMPORTANT AND FUNDAMENTAL MATTERS TO BE ATTENDED TO TACKLE LAND GRABBING EFFECTIVELY
It was explained in the first Report of the Committee that Bangalore has become a haven for land-grabbers. The Administrative machinery has utterly failed to take any action against the land-grabbers and their official abettors and promoters. Because of the creation of bogus records and fraudulent acts, many innocent persons who have relied upon the government documents have been subjected to untold misery, losing their life’s savings. Governments should protect the interests of such innocent people who are the victims of the fraudulent acts of officials. That there is no punishment for the officials who have created bogus and fraudulent documents is indicative of a collapse of administration.
[ Page No. 14 ]
3. THE STRANGE CASE OF KARNATAKA JUDICIAL EMPLOYEES HOUSE BUILDING CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY-WHO WILL GUARD THE GUARDIANS ?It is therefore clear that the Judicial Employees HBCS has violated the Land Reforms Act and the land so held by the HBCS shall be forfeited to the Government along with the structures on it.
[ Page No. 15 ]
This only compounds the offence of the HBCS as it was taken possession of the lands without any title and proceeded to allot sites in gross violation of law. In some cases, the HBCS and a few land-holders have entered into a “compromise” before the City Civil Judge. It is astounding as to how such “compromise” in violation of the provisions of the Land Reforms Act and that too before a court of law can be entered.The Judicial Employees HBCS enrolled 3399 members and 1353 Associate Members and allotted 2268 sites. This included a large number of sites allotted to many associate Members including Judges of High Court / Supreme Court their family members, Politicians, Contractors, Officials like Police-Sub Inspectors who cannot be even ‘honorary’ Judicial Officers while many regular primary members were not allotted sites. The allottees included such persons as Police Sub Inspector, Contractor of Public Works Department, children of Judges etc. who were not Judicial Employees or primary members.
[ Page No. 16 ]
But this HBCS took possession of about 36 acres of land from land holders on the basis of Agreement to Sell and distributed the land as sites.
The Director of Public Prosecution (Civil ) who was expected to apply his mind and take an independent decision has failed to discharge his duties and he has concurred with the opinion given by the learned Government Advocate not prefer an appeal
[Page No- 30]
The Special DC vide his order No.RRT CR 59/2000-01 dated 15-7-2005 again held the creation of entries of granting of 16 acres to 18 persons as bogus and that purchase of 10 acres each from 18 persons by the Khodays has no legal validity and the 180 acres should be resumed to the government.
The Government Pleader kept quiet “… without opening his mouth, not argued on behalf of the Government. He sat in his bench like a Doll by twinkling his eyes. This attitude of the Government Pleader is to help the land Grabbers. My respected Sir, I am not asking any thing for my own benefit. It is not correct by keeping quiet to see that the land grabbers have grabbed the valuable land in collusion with the Revenue Officials which is only 15 kms away from the Bangalore City. The said land may be used by the Government for public activities.”
It is also necessary for Government to call for the explanation of the concerned officials and launch criminal prosecution for breach of trust, creating false evidence, etc. under the Indian Penal Code and the recently passed legislation. The VAs, Ris, Tahsildars, ACs, DCs / Spl. DCs of the period from the date of fraud: the Sub-Registrar and District Registrars for registering the documents of sale without looking into the violation of Land Reforms Act and PTCL, 1978 Act should be proceeded against.
[Page No- 36 ]
Are – like the proverbial primate – not shining examples of legitimate exercise of judicial powers, quasi or otherwise. At best it is a pseudo-judicial exercise to defraud public charities and abetting with the land-grabbers. At worst, it is a colour able, deliberate exercise of power to help land-grabbers trying to rob property endowed by a pious person, not allowing his soul to rest in peace.
It is quite likely that some important and powerful persons have formed “layouts” in these tank beds and have sold to the city residents.
To summarise, the encroachments in Banneerghatta National Park
In this case also the Forest department conveniently kept quiet for 8 months and the encroacher filed a Title Suit in the Civil Court on 19-7-2003. Commencement of evidence started on 15-7-2005 ( that is, after 2 years ) and the final order OS. 570 / 2003 was issued on 21-3-2006.
“6. Plaintiffs to prove their case, examined plaintiff No.1 as witness and got marked 48 documents and closed their evidence. Defendants have not cross-examined PW I nor lead their evidence.” [Emphasis added ]
Again, in para 14 and 15 the Order says:
“It is true that the burden is on the defendants to prove that it was reserved forest land and negligently they have not discharged their burden.
ISSUE No.2: The burden to prove this issue is no the defendants. The defendants conducted the case very negligently. Except filing of the written statement, the have not taken any part in prosecuting the matter. At least they should have produced the copy of the Notification to show that S.No.156 and 171 along with other properties totally measuring 388 acres of land is notified as Reserved Forest Land and declared as ‘Suddehalla Lake’. But they have not produced the same…”
[Page No- 53]
There is thus, at best, a paralysis in the department and, at worst, a collusion between the Forest department officials and encroachers as can be seen from the above cases of Turahalli Minor Forest and Banneerghatta National Park which are only two examples of the deep disease affecting the Forest Department.
13. EVOLVING A RELIABLE SYSTEM OF PROPERTY TITLES & MAINTENANCE ON THE MODEL OF “TORRENS SYSTEM” PRACTICED IN MANY OTHER COUNTRIES TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE.
The Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister have announced in the latest budget in para 97 that a Title Insurance Corporation will be formed which will insure against wrong property documents.
Such insurance system will go a long way to assure the citizens in getting reliable documents of title in place of the highly unreliable system now suffered by every one.
14. IMPROVEMENTS NEEDED IN DEFENDING CASES BY LAW DEPARTMENT. GOVERNMENT’S AND STATUTORY BODIES ADVOCATES:
The government advocates do not bother to defend the cases on the ground that the departments concerned do not furnish information in times
Worse, side with the private parties, leading to the suspicion that there is collusion.
15. UNSATISFACTORY PERFORMANCE OF THE LEGAL CELLS & LAW DEPARTMENT IN DEFENDING GOT CASES:
5. Monitoring of pending litigation and furnishing the required information and documents to the law officer.
21. PROTETION TO THE GUILTY DUE TO THE INACTIVE ADMINISTRATION:
It is a shame that Government have failed to use its powers to prosecute these criminals. The Committee has not come across a single instance in which the Government have proceeded against the land-grabbers.
Ordinary citizens have come to lose faith in government and administration.
In the Sovereign Democratic Republic created by the Constitution in independent India, lofty principles such as Rule of Law, Equality before Law, Due Process, Majesty of Law, Dignity of Courts, Inalienable Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles, etc. are enshrined. But, if it appears to the common man, who experiences harassment, torment and injustice in his daily life at the hands of the privileged few belonging to the Establishment, that while all persons are said to be equal before law, but in reality some are much more equal than others to whom the law will apply only partially if at all, then, the weighty principles of law and justice of which we are justly proud of will abort all of their pregnant meaning and will become mere words scratched on flowing water.
[Page No. 7 ]
(9) Illegal use of acquired land by House Building Co-operative societies:Of the long list of erring HBCSs, the most notorious is the Judicial Employees Co-operative HBCS. This society has created an all-India record for being a Mother of Illegalities, unleashing a tsunami of scandals. Thus, the Judicial Employees Co-operative HBC, has become a cesspool of corruption and lawlessness.
[Page No. 10 ]
Unless such powers are given to the Special Court Investigation, prosecution and punishment will not be successful.
[Page No. 12 ]
The duty of the administration is to uphold rule of law. The purpose of the Fence is to protect the Crops; to act as the Guardian, If these Illegal, anti-social and Unethical acts go unpunished, honest citizens will lose all faith in Government and the very Social Contract on. Which the State is founded will crumble as castles built on foundations of sand.
[Page No-17]It is most unfortunate that the Judicial Employees HBCS which should have been a model to the other House Building Co-operative Societies has itself become the leading law-breaker without the least fear or care for law, propriety or public interest. It has indulged in acts of favour, cronyism and capricious indifference to law at will, obviously under the hubris that having High Court Judges and powerful persons as its members and beneficiaries will ensure immunity to all its illegal acts.
Having the registered office of the HBCS in the High Court Building itself invoking awe and terror in the minds of various agencies who have to take action against the HBCS as per law, do not create an atmosphere of fair play, straightforwardness or impartial dispensation of Justice.
In the retreating standards of public morality, the people still perceive the Judiciary as the last bastion of redress, relief, remedy and justice. Therefore, the Judiciary should be, like Sita or Caesar’s wife, above and far removed from the least odor of suspicion of indiscretion and impropriety. This Committee therefore feels that it is necessary to protect the Judiciary’s own precious reputation and the faith of people in it.
“It is a case of salt having lost its savour”. The judicial process is used to acquire rights over the Government property, a clear case of abuse of judicial process.
(34) Karnataka being one of the progressive States in the Union of India, Bangalore being the center of attraction to the whole world,
Whether the Government is capable of meeting the challenges in the field of law and in protecting its people and its properties,
If the Government is sincere in protecting the public and its properties..
[Page No- 28]
7. GRABBING OF 180 ACRES OF GOVT PADA LAND IN BADAMANAVARTHE KAVAL VILLAGE, BANGALORE SOUTH TALUK BY CREATING BOGUS DOCUMENTS TO FAVOUR THE HOUSE OF KHODAYS.
8. CHOUBEENA SUBBARAO CHARITIES CASE-HOW 9,770 Sq. Ft. OF LAND AND BUILDINGS WORTH Rs. 15 Cr. BEQUEATHED BY A PHILANTRHOPIST IS GRABBED BY PRIVATEPERSONS WITH THE HELP OF BBMP OFFCIALS.
10. LAND GRABBING IN TURAHALLI MINOR FOREST WITHIN 12 KILOMETERS OF BDA OFFICE BY LAND GRABBERS AND PROMOTED BY BANGALORE DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
[Page No- 42]
TURAHALLI MINOR FOREST-REPERCUSSIONS OF HIGH COURT ORDERS ON SPURIOUS PETITIONS BY FICTITIOUS “CULTIVATORS “ AND LAND-GRABBERS.
[Page No-43 ]
Which prohibits regularization of unauthorized cultivation within 18 kms from BMP limits.
[Page No- 45]
The hands of the Land-Grabbers are long and powerful indeed !
While judicial activism to uphold the observance of Rule of Law is most desirable wherever there is a failure by the Executive, here is an instance where an untrammeled use of the cracks and crevices of the adversarial legal system by the land-thieves was allowed to go unchecked against public policy and law as laid down by the Supreme Court which as enabled the land grabbers to almost succeed in their crime of land-theft.
ROLE OF THE FOREST DEPT IN ITS FAILURE TO PROTECT FOREST LAND BY NOT INVOKING THE ENORMOUS
[Page No- 60]
The Committee found to its horror that the Heads of Legal Cells were not even aware of the Government Order and every one smugly asserted that only giving legal opinion in cases referred to them is their responsibility and monitoring of pending litigation is not.
In addition, the Law Secretary was also not aware of the Government Order
Nor was he aware of Rule 65A of the Transaction of Business Rules according to which the Law Secretary has to convene a meeting of all Heads of Legal Cells and the Law Officers of the Advocate General, at least once a month,
16. SUCCESSFULLY DEFENDING GOVERNMENT CASES IN COURTS:
As indeed required under the Rules creating Legal Cells, but failed to be followed in practice, the Law Secretary should review the work of Legal Cells once a month and send a report to the Chief Secretary. At present the government wakes up only when the chair, table and sofa set of the Chief Secretary are attached by the courts.
Selection of Government Advocates:
The Committee will also assess the performance of the existing Government Advocates and Pleaders and wherever felt necessary will terminate their services. In addition to the existing remuneration, they should also be given an incentive of upto Rs.10,000 on winning each case.
For drafting the petitions on behalf of the Government, the National Law School has agreed to ask their under-graduates and post-graduates for whom it is compulsory to be attached to law firms as part of their law course, to work with Government Advocates.
17. COMPUTERIZATION OF LAW DEPARTMENT:
The Karnataka High Court has computerized all the legal proceedings in an elaborate and effective manner.
The Law Department of the Karnataka Government has no such system.
18. THE KARNATAKA LAND GRABBING (PROHIBITION) ACT, 2007
The salient features under the Karnataka Act are:
1. It applies to all lands belonging to Government, local authority, a statutory or non-statutory body and includes a Company, Trust, Society or association of individuals.
2. Land-grabber includes whoever unlawfully takes possession of the land or assists in taking possession and also an abettor such as public servants.
6. All land grabbing cases in the State will be tried only by the Special Court and the decision of the Special Court will be final.
10. This Act overrides all other laws. All cases of land-grabbing nature before any other Court or Authority stand transferred to the Special Court under this Act.
19. NEED TO CONSTITUTE A RELIABLE INVESTIGATING AND PROSECUTING AUTHORITY WITHIN THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT AND THE SPECIAL COURT.
In the foregoing paragraphs it is made clear that the menace of creating bogus records, collusion with land-grabbers and abetting the land-grabbing is rampant. Most of the genuine cases of land grabbing fail in the courts because of indifferent and defective investigation, lackadaisical prosecution and slothful arguments by the Government Advocates and in some cases even collusion.
It is necessary that a highly competent and high-powered Administrative Wing is constituted as part of the Special Court under the Karnataka Land Grabbing (Prohibition ) Act.
As the lands under encroachment is Bangalore Urban District so far detected is itself about 27,000 acres and at an average rate of Rs.1 crore per acre this will be worth about Rs.27,000 crores, funds should not be a constraint to provide a competent Administrative Wing to ensure a thorough detection of bogus documents and transactions and diligent investigation and successful prosecution.