‘De-notification by Khemka without hearing parties against principles of natural justice’
The Haryana revenue department has held that de-notification of consolidation proceedings in Rozka-Gujjar village in Gurgaon district and Kot village in Faridabad district was done by IAS officer Ashok Khemka in August 2012 without affording an opportunity of hearing to the interested parties, which is against the principle of natural justice.chandigarh Updated: Sep 30, 2013 21:15 IST
The Haryana revenue department has held that de-notification of consolidation proceedings in Rozka-Gujjar village in Gurgaon district and Kot village in Faridabad district was done by IAS officer Ashok Khemka in August 2012 without affording an opportunity of hearing to the interested parties, which is against the principle of natural justice.
The department, in its reply to Khemka’s 100-page response to findings of a three-member committee of officers, has quoted a July 12 order of the Punjab and Haryana high court pertaining to Baad-Gujjar village in Gurgaon district to support its contention. The order was reported by HT exclusively.
The high court had quashed an order passed by Khemka in his capacity as the director general, consolidation of holdings (DGCH), under Section 42 of the Consolidation Act, saying it suffered from error of jurisdiction and was against the principle of natural justice.
Without affording an opportunity of hearing to other parties, the IAS officer had, on August 8, 2012, set aside the transfer of land of Baad-Gujjar panchayat to private parties in the consolidation proceedings on the ground that classification of land in terms of relative value was unreasonable and detrimental to the interests of the panchayat.
The IAS officer had said that in his response the consolidation law that was meant to reverse fragmentation of agricultural landholdings and preserving village common land was abused to allow influential private players get possession of hilly and non-agricultural common land, including forests in the Aravallis located contiguously south of the Gurgaon-Faridabad road comprising villages of Mangar, Bandhwari, Rozka-Gujjar and Kot.
He had alleged that outsiders acquired vast tracts of common hilly land and forests, including the pristine groves of Mangar Bani held sacred by villagers. In Bandhwari and Mangar villages, the commonly held hills and forests were already partitioned via the consolidation proceedings.
Of the 3,184 acres notified for consolidation in Kot village, 2,565 acres fell under common hill area and the inclusion of this portion defeated the purpose of consolidation.
Even more blatant was the case of Rozka-Gujjar, an uninhabited village. Of the 5,744 acres brought under consolidation in the village, close to 4,798 acres were notified under Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act.
Under the Forest Conservation Act, land under these two notifications cannot be diverted for any use other than forest-related activities without the permission of the union ministry of environment and forests. There is hardly a local whose name figures in the revenue records as owner today. Almost the entire area is purchased by the powerful business-politico-bureaucratic-police lobby with ostensibly no interest in agricultural or cultivation activities.
Moreover, some land transactions seemed benami on behalf of a few powerful politicians and bureaucrats, Khemka had alleged
Consolidation process de-notified
Khemka wrote in his response that the consolidation proceedings in the two villages were de-notified at great risk to his personal safety to prevent destruction of ecology and environment by carrying non-forest activities in forests and hills.
The IAS officer also recommended certain measures in light of the alleged abuse of the consolidation scheme by vested business-politico-bureaucratic interests, as discovered in Rozka-Gujjar, Baad-Gujjar and Kot during his short stay in this department.
These included that consolidation scheme should include only agriculture landholdings and uncultivable area such as Gair Mumkin Pahad be excluded from the scheme, the relative valuation of land included in the scheme of consolidation belonging to panchayat or government should be finalised by the consolidation officer only after taking the approval of the panchayat department or respective department and statutory authorities under the Consolidation Act- consolidation officer, settlement officer, assistant director (consolidation), divisional commissioner and director (consolidation of holdings) must not own or have any interest, either direct or indirect, in the village under consolidation.
'No action required on Khemka's proposal'
The department, in its reply, to the state government wrote that no action was required to be taken on Khemka’s proposals. It said consolidation proceedings were being carried out as per the provisions of the Consolidation Act by including land belonging to panchayat and government departments.
Regarding the question of valuation of land, the valuation made by the consolidation authorities can be challenged under Section 42 of the Consolidation Act. Regarding the interest of statutory authorities, the department said that any undue interest of the officer concerned is covered under the conduct rules.