The State High Court on Wednesday issued notice to State Government in a fresh PIL moved against malpractices in vogue in the Revenue Department.
The court of Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rashid Ali Dar issued notice and called report from Commissioner/ Secretary to Government Revenue Department, Civil Secretariat Srinagar/Jammu, Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary affairs, Financial Commissioner Revenue J&K, Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Srinagar, Divisional Commissioner Jammu and Director Land Records, Bemina. The response has to be filed within four weeks.
The PIL filed by Jammu & Kashmir People’s Forum through its Secretary General M M Shuja submitted that the petitioner organization is aggrieved of various malpractices in vogue in the revenue department more particularly about attestation of mutations, maintenance of records and non-adherence of the provisions of law.
The Counsel representing petitioner organization, Shafkat Nazir made a submission through the petition that section 138 of J&K Transfer of Property Act forbids transfer of title of any immovable property if such transfer is not supported by an instrument registered legally by the registering authority prescribed by the Registration Act.
The petition stated that on ground most of the pathwaries, girdawars and even Naib Tehsildars have created their own separate kingdom in their respective jurisdictions and consider themselves about every law and rule, with the result that not only public at large suffers but also a considerable loss is caused to the state exchequer.
Referring to information collected from Tehsil Khanyar which indicates that most of the mutations in Brane area of the Tehsil have been attested without following the mandate of law as contained in section 138 of J& K Transfer of Property Act and the provisions contained in J& K Land Revenue Act and other Standing Orders of the competent authorities, it was told to court through the petition that to avoid payment of stamp duty on account of execution of valid instrument of alienation of immovable properties by one person to the other, most of the pathwaries have carved out a novel and illegal mechanism by recording and attesting even pre- dated mutation without following the prescribed procedure and the law laid down in section 138 of J&K Transfer of property Act.
“That it is not only in Tehsil Khanyar alone that malpractices are being followed and rights of genuine land holders in the area are defeated but this practice is also rampant in all other areas of the state,” the petition stated.
Counsel Nazir also pointed out through the petition that the state legislature in its supreme wisdom, inserted section 22-A, B,C,D,E,F,G,H and I in the J&K Land Revenue Act 1996 by virtue of an amendment Act of 2001 which has made it mandatory for all the revenue agencies controlled by respective Deputy Commissioners to ensure that every property holder within their respective jurisdictions is issued a pass book regarding holding of properties and the said pass book has been ordered to be maintained in duplicate and updated after every six months.
It was stated that the legislature has provided a fool-proof mechanism for maintenance of the revenue record and to prevent any mutilation, illegal entry and shame alienation thereof.
“The Commissioner Secretary to Government Revenue Department, Financial Commissioner Revenue, and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir/Jammu are deliberately sitting over these provisions of law and avoiding the empowerment of every land holder to know about the position of his property holdings. The said respondents are thus patronizing a defective system which creates a room for every vested interest to step in and get the entries of his choice recorded in the revenue records,” the petition mentioned.
“Non-adherence of these provisions of law has also promoted illegal encroachments on the state lands, across the state and getting entries of possession legal or illegal recorded by the encroachers,” counsel Nazir pointed in the petition.
The petitioner organization has also stated that it has been a practice with the respondent authorities to allow retention of Patwaries for years together even beyond the prescribed period of maximum three years.
Further questioning that the respondents took the project of digitization of revenue record in the state way back in 2002 and crores of rupees are understood to have been spent thereupon. “Heavy duty equipment was also acquired for the purpose. However, on ground, no headway appears to have been made in the project and the record continues to be in shambles in the central and district revenue record rooms in the state,” the petition stated.
The petition pleaded that the respondents be commanded to place before the Court the entire details of mutations attested and recorded in all the pathwar halqas of the state of J&K without the support of any validly registered instrument as defined in section 138 of J&K Transfer of Property Act, in the first instance with effect from 1-1-2010 till date.
“Upon submission of the said statement and after judicial scrutiny thereof, any mutation or transfer of title by any mode other than that prescribed by law be declared void abinitio,” the petioner organization pleaded.
It was further prayed before court that respondents be commanded to comply and cause to be complied with the provisions contained in section 22-A to section 22- I of J&K Land Revenue Act and ensure that all Deputy Commissioners in the state arrange maintenance and issuance of Pass books in favour of all the property holders of the state.
With further direction to disclose before Court the status of digitization of revenue record project, expenditure incurred thereupon so far, the existing position of the equipment acquired for digitization.
“This Court may also kindly be pleased to monitor the process of digitization of revenue record in public interest with a further pleading to direct Secretary to Government, Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary affairs to exercise effective control and supervision over the licensed Public Notaries and ensure that periodical inspections are undertaken regarding their functioning with further direction to issue an appropriate instruction indicating, for public awareness, the type of documents which Notaries Public are empowered under law to register,” the petitioner organization prayed.