HC directs Idukki Collector not to allow conversion of cardamom plantations into tourist resorts

HC asks Revenue Principal Secretary to file the inquiry report in four week

Published - June 11, 2024 07:00 pm IST - KOCHI

A Division Bench of the Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the Idukki District Collector to ensure that land leased out for cardamom cultivation are not used for any other purposes such as establishing resorts.

The Bench comprising Justice A. Muhamed Mustaque and Justice Shoba Annamma Eappen also directed the Collector to conduct an inquiry through the tahsildar and find out the number of resorts functioning in the land leased out for cardamom cultivation.

The court also directed the Principal Secretary, Revenue, to inquire into the circumstances under which a cardamom plantation at Pallivasal village had been allowed to be used as a resort. The court asked the Principal Secretary to file the inquiry report in four week before the court.

Probe needed

The court also directed that if any lapses were found during the inquiry, the officials liable for the lapses should be held responsible. The court observed that the fact that permission was granted by the Collector for running a resort on the cardamom plantation was a serious lapse that needs to be probed by the higher authorities.

The court passed the order when a writ petition filed by One Earth One Life against encroachments and illegal constructions in Munnar and other parts of the Idukki district came up for hearing. As per the rules, cardamom plantation could not be used for any other purpose such as resort.

The cardamom planter was given the permission under the guise of granting NOC for residential buildings meant for the workers of the plantations at Kothamedu under the Pallivasal grama panchayat, it said.

The court also slammed the State government for not registering any criminal case against former Devikulam Additional Tahsildar M.I. Ravindran, who was involved in issuing about 530 land titles violating land assignment rules in Idukki district. The court noted that the government had issued an order cancelling these illegal titles. However no criminal case had been registered against him. The court added that he was now free and getting pension. “Why has the government not ordered an investigation as to whether he had amassed wealth? Do you mean to say that he had issued the titles without obtaining any gratification,” the court asked Director General of Prosecution T.A. Shaji. The DGP then submitted that a vigilance case had been registered against him. What the government could now do was to order a further investigation by a senior officer or by a Special Investigation Team, he added.

The DGP further submitted that accused in 40 bogus title forgery cases were acquitted. He submitted that all the 40 cases could be individually examined as to whether there was any possibility of filing revisions against the acquittal orders, for which legal options had to be obtained from the assistant pubic prosecutors concerned who appeared in the cases. When asked by the court whether the High Court could order a reinvestigation into these cases, the DGP said that if the law permitted so, the High Court could pass such an order.

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