KLR Act overlooked in issuing land orders

Relevant provisions of the Kerala Land Reforms (KLR) Act, 1963 were reported to have been overlooked by the Cabinet for issuing the controversial land assigning orders prior to the announcement of the Assembly elections.

According to Revenue Department sources, had the government not repealed the order granting exemption from the KLR Act to 127 acres owned by controversial godman Santhosh Madhavan, it would have amounted to criminal conspiracy and set the ground for a protracted legal tussle.

The government reserves the authority to assign only up to one acre of excess land to the family of a landless agriculture labourer. On deciding to allocate land for what it deems to be a public purpose or return the excess land taken over from an institution or individual, the government should first file a case in the High Court against the Taluk Land Board chairman and secure a verdict in its favour before returning the land. Such procedures were followed while issuing the order granting exemption to Santhosh Madhavan. Violation of such provisions would amount to criminal conspiracy and those culpable of taking such decisions may attract imprisonment up to five years or a fine up to Rs.2 lakh, sources said.

The company had sought an exemption from the Act for 95.44 acres of land at Puthenvelikkara village in Ernakulam district and 32.41 acres of land at Madathumpady village in Kodungalloor in Thrissur district for setting up hi-tech/IT parks. In the face of strong protest, the government decided to cancel the order issued on March 2.

The decision to assign 714 acres of land for Hope Plantations in Peerumade too was made in violation of the provisions of the Kerala Plantation (Additional Tax) Act and also the Plantation Labour Act, 1956. Though the government has the prerogative to arrive at a conclusion in such cases, the touchstone for considering a land as a plantation is the Plantation Act. The vital provisions on both Acts were not considered before deciding to dole out the land.

Top Revenue Department officials are understood to have apprised the political leadership that much more than the political controversy what was more relevant was the fact that the controversial orders would not stand legal scrutiny and thus it was decided to repeal both orders, sources said.

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Printable version | Sep 28, 2021 8:10:48 AM |

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