Greater Kashmir, Feb 11 2014, Srinagar: Pulling up revenue department for its casual approach on final award of compensation in land acquisition for extension of Golf Course at Pahalgam, J&K High Court has observed the officials have manipulated the records to give compensation to those not entitled.
Disposing off a bunch of petitions seeking compensation for land, a bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey left the parties free to take recourse to appropriate remedial measures to establish their respective claims for compensation under law.
Disapproving the approach by the concerned revenue officials for not taking any curative action before the final award despite a note of explicit caution by the Tourism Department through Chief Executive Officer Pahalgam Development Authority about the initial list of land holdings, the court said it has caused a huge loss to the exchequer.
On the final award challenge before an appropriate forum as also on the allegations of petitioners that some bureaucrats and influential persons were paid for the same kind of land have not been rebutted by the respondents, the court said it appears to be a case where public interest and patronage has gone hand in glove and consequence is natural loss to the public exchequer.
In 2004, a proposal was moved by the Tourism Department through CEO Pahalgam Development Authority for expansion of the Pahalgam Golf Course which was discussed in a meeting chaired by the chief minister on April 18, 2004, authorizing CEO Pahalgam to place indent with DC Anantnag for acquisition of the land.
Prior to it, Tehsildar Pahalgam furnished relevant land details to the CEO PDA following which he placed an indent to the DC Anantnag for acquisition/transfer of land measuring 61 kanals 13 marlas in estate Laripora and 378 kanals 10 marlas situated between the maize farm and the proposed deer park.
On April 1, 2006, land measuring 364 kanals was handed over by Tehsildar Pahalgam to CEO PDA through a document.
Subsequently, CEO PDA in a communication to revenue authorities of district Anantnag sounded a caution that land belonging to state in the documents submitted by Tehsildar Pahalgam for placing indent has been expropriated as its nature was changed from Shamilat Najaiz/state land to Shamilat Jaiz.
He stated that in disregard of law/rules, land mentioned in the letter has already been acquired by the state and the same continued to be under the possession of private individuals. He further mentioned that some persons had been allotted the alternate land in lieu of their portions of land and no mutation to the effect was made in revenue records.
“Unmindful of the caution to concerned land collectorate, the Additional DC Anantnag/Collector issued notification under Section 4 of J&K land acquisition act in respect of land measuring 392 kanals & 13 Marlas,” the court observed.
The court said the officials in the revenue department seemingly with their eyes shut to the caution of CEO PDA, issued declaration under Section 6 of the Act.
After the draft award was prepared by collector land acquisition Anantnag which was forwarded to FC(R) through Divisional Commissioner Kashmir for examination, DC central raised certain doubts with regard to entries made in the ownership and tenancy columns and sought clarification from the collector.
“Without any records available about the follow-up action taken on observations of DC Central, the acquisition proceeding were finalized and final award made on 23-5-2008 with compensation of Rs 15,28,43,625 for apportionment among interested persons and the amount was deposited by CEO PDA with collector Land Acquisition Anantnag,” the court said.
While compensation as per awards was being paid to claimants & an amount of Rs 7,53,7,385 was disbursed, an FIR No: 1/2009 was registered in police station vigilance organization Kashmir.
During the investigation certain discrepancies were noticed particularly that the award had been wrongly passed and published and those who were not owners of the land were held entitled for compensation.
DC Anantnag constituted a team of officers to demarcate the whole area which cleared few survey numbers for compensation and recommended no payment for Shamilat land in possession of certain persons.
Collector land acquisition Anantnag while reporting that only 61 kanals 13 marlas were Jaiz Nautor as per revenue records No: 45 of 1934-35 and rest of the land was only Shamilat with neither land revenue charged nor Nautor carried on records, sent the report to District Collector Anantnag for seeking some clarifications about payments to Shamilat land.
DC Anantnag constituted a team of revenue officers which recommended payment of compensation to possessors of land.
The deputy commissioner sent the case to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir for approval, who convened a meeting of officers which concluded that only an area measuring 373 kanals 17 marlas as Nautor Jaiz was entered as Shamilat Hasbi.
In light of the decision by Div Com Kashmir, Collector Anantnag either withheld the compensation determined in terms of award dated 12-5-2008 or initiated the process of recovery from the persons who were paid it illegally.
The petitioners challenged the minutes of meeting dated: 22-4-2010 chaired by Divisional Commissioner Kashmir and sought implementation of final award.
The court in its judgement said the high level committee under Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has rightly gone to the basic records to ascertain factual position.