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?Govt pleadings are short and lack depth?

Madhya Pradesh Board of Revenue is the State?s highest appellate authority to adjudicate disputes involving Government land and revenue matters. The appeals are made to the Board when the plaintiff wants to test the soundness of the decision given by lower adjudicating authorities like the court of Tehsildar, District Collector and Divisional Commissioner.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2006 00:16 IST

Madhya Pradesh Board of Revenue is the State’s highest appellate authority to adjudicate disputes involving Government land and revenue matters. The appeals are made to the Board when the plaintiff wants to test the soundness of the decision given by lower adjudicating authorities like the court of Tehsildar, District Collector and Divisional Commissioner.

Padma Shastri spoke to its administrative member and adjudicating authority for Indore and Ujjain division Devendra Singhai even as the Board’s decisions are being increasingly challenged in the High Court (HC) on the ground that the plaintiff bypassed the channel of appeal and on receiving a notice for the recovery of revenue from Tehsildar or Sub Divisional Officer went straight to Board and obtained a stay. Also, the Government interest in terms of land and revenue has been overlooked. Excerpts

Indore and surrounding district administrations have been challenging the Board’s decision in the HC on the grounds that a defaulter instead of placing his grievances with Tehsildar, Collector or Commissioner approached the Board, which stayed their decision. HC has vacated Board’s stay in several such cases.

It’s well within their right to approach HC. Moreover, it is a wrong premise that one of the chief aims of Board is to protect the interest of Government land, its revenue and speed up the recovery of dues payable to different government organisations. I am here to arbitrate judiciously and impartially based on the appeals and evidence furnished by plaintiff and respondents.

Stays are normally granted ex parte. If the stay has been granted, why don’t revenue officials come to me (Board) and get it vacated. Why don’t they engage good lawyers who can argue their case substantially and effectively? The Government pleadings are short and lack depth but on the other hand private parties will give 10 legal grounds to support their claim and cite case laws. Government is nobody’s baby and everybody’s baby.

But this way the Government is forced to spend more money on litigation and is not able to act against the guilty officials who have granted unlawful benefits to private parties.

If that is the case, why no efforts are made to amend the MP Land Revenue Code (MPLRC) and other related laws where the proper channel of appeal is prescribed. Even if there are Supreme Court directions that alternative remedy, if available, cannot be overlooked; then they (administration) should argue this fact also before the Board.

The Board recently has stayed the recovery of diversion fee from prominent schools and other private establishments and thus caused loss to Government exchequer. Please comment.

I will neither substantiate nor contradict it, as I have no statistics on this. But if recovery is being affected it is because of the faulty procedure adopted by officials without making proper study of cases individually. At times the sum to be recovered is in excess of the due amount. Adopting coercive methods for recovery is against the provision of law. I can understand that officials are overworked but they will have to fix their priorities.

In certain decisions, Board ruled that Tehsidar has no right to recover Inter Corporate Deposit Scheme loans, though MPLRC has vested this power in Tehsildar while MP Lok Dhan Adhiniyam 1987 clearly states that nothing should debar the Government for recovery of dues.

It is not to my knowledge. There are cases whose adjudication began at the time of my predecessor and they are still to be decided. If I reverse the ruling of my predecessor, it will have to be referred to division bench.

You see, I have joined this organisation, which is a running train that has a legacy of its own. I am required to maintain its present speed and course. There will be two consequences if I enhance the speed or change things. Either I will be thrown out of this post or the train will derail.

I have to strike a balance. Indian Stamps Act declares collector of stamps (Registrar) as the final authority to decide land’s market value. Board overlooked the Registrar’s say on guideline and market value in land dispute cases. Indore and Dewas offices challenged it at HC and succeeded.

All I can say is that in some cases, the market value is not decided judiciously. At times, market rates quoted are absurd. But since it’s the Registrar’s judicial order, even Inspector General of Registration can’t challenge it. The Board has this power. Finally, are there any plans to improve the Board’s functioning?

It’s the function of collective wisdom. What is required is a strong will for reforms. There is still this perception that Board member is a loophole post. During one and half years of my tenure, Board became defunct thrice due to lack of quorum. It became non-operational for the third time this February when Manoj Shrivastav got a transfer at Bhopal.

It was only 15 days back that the Board resumed its function when Chambal Commissioner J T Ikka was made the member. Minimum three members are required with or without the President of Board to complete the quorum.

First Published: Mar 31, 2006 00:16 IST