Orders grant of ‘patta’ for land assigned to her in 1966

The Madras High Court Bench in Madurai has come to the rescue of a 70-year-old Dalit widow, of an ex-serviceman, who was made to run from pillar to post since 1995 seeking ‘patta’ (land ownership document) for 3.37 acres of agricultural land allotted to her at Avaniapuram near Madurai in 1966 under a special scheme for landless poor.

Allowing a writ petition filed by T. Mariammal, Justice S. Manikumar quashed an order passed by the Revenue Secretary on September 11, 2007 and two other orders, one passed by the Collector on March 24, 1999 and another by Madurai South Tahsildar on April 10, 1999 refusing to grant patta on the ground that the land in question was a valuable one and hence prohibited from alienation.

The judge directed the three officials to issue the patta in favour of the petitioner within two months on collection of market value of the land as determined by the revenue authorities during the 1990s.

The judge held that the officials had not considered the petitioner’s plea in the light of the policy of the government to uplift the landless poor.

“Having regard to the policy of the Government and taking into consideration the rights of poor landless Scheduled Caste persons and widow of an ex-serviceman, who has rendered his service to the country, the Government officials ought to have taken a pragmatic approach in dealing with the request of such persons,” the judge said.

He pointed out that there were enough records to prove that the petitioner was in possession of the property for the last 36 years. The Tahsildar’s report also made it clear that she was using it for agricultural purpose. Just because the adjacent land had been converted into residential plots, the officials could not presume that the petitioner might also follow suit, he added.

“No credible material is available warranting such conclusion,” the judge said. He passed the order without a written reply from the officials as an Additional Government Pleader representing them said that the Collector, District Revenue Officer as well as Tahsildar failed to respond despite an intimation sent to them seeking records for preparing the counter affidavit.

After recording the submission made by the AGP, the judge said that he was constrained to dispose of the case without waiting for a formal reply as the petitioner was already aged and she could not be made to wait anymore.

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