Karnataka

HC directs State govt. to return 354 acres of land to Jamanlal Bajaj Seva Trust

The High Court of Karnataka has directed the State government to return 354 acres 10 guntas of land to the Jamanlal Bajaj Seva Trust by quashing a 2017 order of the land tribunal, which had declared that the trust was in “excess” possession of this land in violation of the land-holding limit under the Karnataka Land Reforms (KLR) Act, 1961.

The court also declared this land spread in different survey numbers in Srigandhadakaval, Herohalli and Gidadakonenahalli villages, which were part of the 400 acres of lands purchased by the trust in 1960, “was not agricultural lands within the meaning of Section 2(18) of the KLR Act” for applying ceiling on land-holding limit.

Justice P.S. Dinesh Kumar passed the order while allowing the petitions filed by the trust questioning the November 28, 2017, order of the Bengaluru North taluk and the December 7, 2017, order of taking possession of the land based on the tribunal’s finding.

“It is sad that an ashram to propagate Gandhian values and envisaged by Acharya Vinoba Bhave has been struggling in legal battle for decades. In the meanwhile, the trust has lost 78 acres of valuable land due to acquisition by Bangalore Development Authority and encroachments,” the court observed, while noticing chequered history of litigations between the trust and the government authorities over the land since 1980s.

Noticing that a survey report of the tahsildar of July, 2015, found no cultivable land in possession of the trust, the court said that twice early the High Court had remanded to the land tribunal the issue of ‘excess’ possession of land by the trust.

In the first order of 2010, the tribunal had said the trust was in possession of 213 acres 20 guntas ‘excess’ land and in the second order of September 2015, the tribunal had said the trust held 265 acres 24 guntas ‘excess’ land, and the court said these two orders of the tribunal were remanded back.

While finding fault with the tribunal for not adhering to the High Court’s earlier direction to consider the 2015 survey report, the court directed the Chief Secretary to ensure that revenue authorities are properly appraised of the position of law.

The government had contended that the trust had purchased agricultural lands and it had filed declaration on possessing ‘excess’ land under the KLR Act but later started claiming that they were not agricultural lands and belong to urban agglomeration though the trust had not declared so when urban land ceiling law was in force.

The trust has stated that Acharya Vinoba Bhave inspired Kamal Nayan Bajaj, one of the trustees, to set up an international sarvodaya centre in Bengaluru, and the trust, on purchasing 400 acres of land, had established an International Sarvodaya Centre known as ‘Vishwaneedam’ between 1962 and 1972, and has been carrying on activities of social and rural developments.


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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 11:39:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/hc-directs-state-govt-to-return-354-acres-of-land-to-jamanlal-bajaj-seva-trust/article35258126.ece

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