Staff Reporter

Notifications of April 23 and August 23 of last year set aside

Division Bench allows public interest litigation petition in this connectionGovernment had prohibited registration of land under four categories

BANGALORE: The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday quashed the ban by the State Government on the registration of certain category of property and set aside the notifications of April 23 and August 23, 2005 prohibiting registration of revenue sites and non-converted agricultural lands for non-agricultural purposes.

A Division Bench, comprising the Chief Justice (Acting), B. Padmaraj, and Justice V. Jagannathan, allowed a public interest litigation petition by D. Pavanesh, an advocate, who has challenged the validity of the ban on registration of property under the provisions of the Indian Registration Act, 1908, and the Transfer of Property Act, 1882.

The petitioner said the Government had prohibited, as opposed to public policy, registration of documents of four categories of lands.

The first category dealt with property used for agricultural purpose and not converted to non-agricultural lands under Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act.

While the second category was for property (described in Form 19 under the rules of the Karnataka Municipalities Act) not converted as sites, the third related to property and sites formed on revenue land and the last was property and lands formed out of revenue land without the requisite permission under Sections 79 A and B and Section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act.

The two notifications were issued under Section 22 A of the Registration Act of 1908 (later amended in 1976) by the Revenue Department, and the petitioner said they were done without the authority of the law. Besides, they were illegal and arbitrary. They were issued with the assumption that all the property not converted for non-agricultural purposes (as required under the Karnataka Land Revenue Act and Karnataka Land Grant Rules) could not be registered as non-agricultural lands. In its counter, the Government had said the land grabbers, middlemen, land sharks, money-spinners and touts had been unjustly enriching themselves by alienating lands by flouting the rules.

It was to prevent such misuse and to protect the interests of the public that the State evolved a public policy banning registration of certain category of lands.

Disagreeing with the view on public policy, the Bench said the issue, including the ban on registration, was "squarely covered" by a Supreme Court judgment in a case pertaining to the State of Rajasthan.

It cited a Supreme Court judgment that it was not possible to define public policy with precision at any point of time. Moreover, it was not for the executive to fill these grey areas as that power rests with the judiciary.

The High Court reminded the Government that the Supreme Court in the same case held that a legislative policy must conform to the provisions of Constitutional mandates.

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