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2015 (3) TMI 813 - SUPREME COURT

2015 (3) TMI 813 - SUPREME COURT - TMI - Whether the order of conversion of land passed by the Tahsildar under Kerala Land Tax Act would circumvent the provisions of beneficial legislations such as Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and the Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967 - Held that:- Rectification of mistake narrated in Section 18 relates to the apparent mistake on the face of the record in relation to any order passed by the prescribed authority, appellate authority or the .....

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The concerned authorities constituted under KLU Order or Kerala Wetland Act 2008 are the competent authority. Nature of the land cannot be changed or converted by directing changes in the Basic Tax Register which is maintained only for the purpose of land tax. The rectification envisaged by Section 18 of Kerala Land Tax Act can only be in respect of arithmetical or clerical error, that too in the order of determining the tax due. Section 18 cannot be made use or the same cannot be taken as a mea .....

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hi,JJ. JUDGMENT R. Banumathi, J . Delay condoned in SLP (C) No.32231 of 2014 and leave granted in all the special leave petitions. 2. This bunch of appeals raises question of substantial importance, whether the order of conversion of land passed by the Tahsildar under Kerala Land Tax Act would circumvent the provisions of beneficial legislations such as Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and the Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967? 3. These appeals arise out of the order passed b .....

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r of the land comprised in Survey No.330/2 of Ernakulam Village in Ernakulam District to an extent of 12.286 cents. The respondents approached the Agricultural Officer who gave a certificate on 10.2.2012, to the effect that the land in question was recorded as a converted land in the Paddy Wetland in the survey records in Ernakulam Village and additionally, a possession certificate was also issued by the Village Officer on 15.2.2012, wherein it was reported that the land in question is actually .....

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from wetland to dry land . Respondent No.1 averred that the disputed property is a dry land, but wrongly described as a wetland (Nilam) in their sale deed and that it was never used for any agricultural purposes. The Single Judge of the High Court vide Order dated 13.7.2012, allowed the writ petition directing that the property of the respondent No.1 will have to be classified as reclaimed purayidam (dry land) in the Basic Tax Register (for short BTR ) and further issued a direction to the Tahsi .....

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tion for conversion of nature of land before any statutory authority, writ proceedings were initiated by respondent No.1 and the impugned order would circumvent the provisions of Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and the Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967. It was submitted that Nilam (wetland) in due course had been changed or transformed into reclaimed purayidam dry land or any other state of condition and the change so effected or made by itself will not amount to a mistake a .....

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wer under Article 226 of the Constitution, Tahsildar was rightly directed to make necessary changes in the BTR and the impugned order does not contravene the provisions of the Acts. 8. We have considered the rival contentions and perused the impugned order and materials on record. Before going into the merits of the contentions and the impugned order, it is imperative to refer to the scheme of the relevant Acts. 9. Scheme and Object of Land Utilization Order, 1967: The Kerala Land Utilization Or .....

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purpose, except with the written permission of the District Collector or the Revenue Divisional Officers in case the powers of District Collectors have been delegated to them. 10. Clause 3 of the Order provides that the State Government may direct, every holder of land shall grow over such portion of his land food crops such as paddy, fish, sugarcane, vegetables, tapioca, yarn, tea, coffee, cardamom, pepper, ground-nut cocoa and banana in addition to any crop he may have grown over such land. C .....

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ravenes the provisions of KLUO to cultivate the land with such food crops and within such period as may be specified in the notice. If the notice is not complied with within the time specified, the Collector may, by order direct and arrange for the sale by public auction. Thus, the KLUO vests District Collectors with powers to enforce cultivation of food crops. 11. Further vide Notification No. G.O. (Rt.) No. 157/2002/AD dated 5.2.2002, Government of Kerala, Agriculture (NCA) Department has issu .....

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ons of the KLU Order and related standing instructions. The Land Revenue Commissioner will hear appeals and the Government (in the Agriculture Department) will exercise revisional powers as provided for in the KLU Orders. District Collectors will ensure the conversions, which are likely to render irrigation investments infructuous, are not to be allowed. Similarly large scale conversion for Commercial purpose should be discouraged. In all cases, where conversion is allowed, Collectors/Revenue Di .....

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ithout sanction are promptly detected and proceeded against. Conversions should not presented as a fait accompli which have to be inevitably regularized. Government will examine the suggestions of Collectors/Principal Agricultural Officers for changes to the KLU Order to make the penal provisions more effective and also for levying as on conversion. 12. Scheme and Object of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008 (for short Wetland Act ):- Indiscriminate and uncontrolled recl .....

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ddy is cultivated at least once in a year or suitable for paddy, cultivation but uncultivated and left fallow, and includes its allied constructions like bunds, drainage channels, ponds and canals. Further, as evident from the objects and scheme of the Act, whether a land in question would come under paddy land defined in Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008, is to be determined on the basis of facts as they exist on ground and not on the basis of description in the revenue records o .....

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e land only if reclamation or conversion was made after the commencement of the provisions of the Act. 14. To ensure the proper implementation of objectives, the Act envisages the constitution of Committees at three different levels i.e. Local Level Monitoring Committee (S.5), State Level Committee (S.8) and District Level Authorized Committee (S.9). Besides it, Wetland Act also provides for the reporting officers under Section 7 who are Agriculture Officers vested with responsibility to report .....

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provisions of the Act are being complied with and the same has to be reported to the Revenue Divisional Officer. The Committee can examine complaints from the public about attempts to violate the provisions of the Act and intervene to prevent violation. Under sub-section 4(iv) of Section 5, the Committee has got the function to collect the details of the paddy land within the area of jurisdiction of the Committee, reclaimed in contravention of the provision of any law for the time being in force .....

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ach application recommended by the local-level committee for filling up or reclamation of paddy land for public purpose. It should examine in detail if alternative land is available in the area for the purpose and the ecological changes that may occur from reclamation. 17. Paddy land and Wetlands are defined under Sections 2 (xii) and 2 (xviii) of the Act respectively. As per Section 5(4), the Committee shall interalia prepare a Data Bank with details of cultivable paddy land within the jurisdic .....

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67 has the power to grant permission to utilize the land for other purposes. As stated in clause 2 (a) of KLU Order, Collectors shall examine such request for residential purpose, on merits on a case to case basis. However, with a view to prevent indiscriminate filling of Paddy Lands in the State, the Government have also prescribed certain restrictions in the Notification dated 5.2.2002 noted (supra), in which District Collectors have been directed interalia to ensure that the conversions which .....

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c purpose as defined in the Act. And as elaborated earlier, if the property is not included in the Data Bank as Paddy Land or Wetland as defined under Act 28/2008, it is still governed by the provisions of KLU Order 1967. Thus, State of Kerala has two statutes -KLU Order 1967 and Kerala Cultivation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act 2008 each dealing with delineated areas with respect to preservation, management and process of reclamation of agricultural and paddy land for any other legitimate use. 1 .....

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istakes.-At any time within four years from the date of any order passed by it the prescribed authority or the appellate authority or the revisional authority may, on its own motion, rectify any mistake apparent from the record and shall, within a like period, rectify any such mistake which has not been brought to the notice of the prescribed authority or the appellate authority or the revisional authority, as the case may be, by a land-holder or other person liable to pay tax: Provided that no .....

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r the Act. Therefore, the rectification of mistake can only be in respect of proceedings or orders passed by the original authority, appellate authority or the revisional authority. 21. Statutory enquiry to ascertain whether the land is a Paddy Land or Wetland and conversion of the land for residential purpose or for any public purpose is governed by KLU Order or the Kerala Wetland Act, 2008 for conversion of the land from Nilam (Wetland) to Purayidam (Dry Land). The concerned authorities consti .....

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