Bengaluru South AC, tahsildar misused office for extraneous considerations: HC

The demolition of residential buildings took place at Doddathogur near Electronics City in Bengaluru.   | Photo Credit: File Photo

The High Court of Karnataka has declared that Bengaluru South sub-division Assistant Commissioner M.G. Shivanna and tahsildar Shivappa Lamani have “misused their offices for extraneous considerations” in demolishing residential buildings by “colluding with the legal heir” of a grantee of government land at Doddathogur near Electronics City.

A Division Bench comprising acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum passed the order while dismissing the appeals filed by the two officers and the State government challenging the March 15, 2021, single judge order.

“The high-handed action on the part of the authorities [AC and tahsildar] has caused irreparable loss and hardship to the rightful owners. In the sphere of valuable property rights, the State, its instrumentality, public authorities or those whose acts bear insignia of public element are enjoined to act in a manner prescribed under the statues and rules,” the Division Bench observed.

The Division Bench upheld the judge’s direction to the government to enter remarks in the service register of both the officers and hold an inquiry through the Lokayukta.

Hasty demolition

Noticing that both the officers acted hastily to demolish the buildings without following the due process of law when the matter was sub judice, the Division Bench said that this fact “speaks loudly to what extent the AC and the tahsildar have colluded with the legal heir of the grantee at whose instance the resumption proceedings were initiated during 2019–20 under the provisions of the Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978.”

The Division Bench also noticed that Shivanna had passed the order of resuming the land to the legal heir of the grantee in the absence of affected parties but had also ensured that certified copies of his order were not immediately available to the affected persons while ensuring demolition of residential buildings within a span of eight days of passing the resumption order on February 18, 2020.

The granted land was first sold way back in 2001 by the original grantee and later it changed many hands before the grantee’s legal heir, Muniraju M., sought to reclaim the land, the present market value of which is worth several crores, on the ground that its original sale was illegal.

Meanwhile, the Division Bench also held that “the records also demonstrate that Muniraju has abused the process of law” and his conduct was “unfair”.


Govt. collusion

Observing that both these officers could not have resorted to such an arbitrary action fearlessly without backing of the government, the judge had urged the Chief Justice to initiate a suo motu proceedings against the State government to put an end to the “pernicious practice” of posting officers “for monetary considerations and reasons other than public interest”.

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Printable version | Oct 20, 2021 6:18:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/bengaluru-south-ac-tahsildar-misused-office-for-extraneous-considerations-hc/article36392737.ece

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