Family gets back state acquired land after 76 years

Three members of a family have been given back over three acres of land in Byrasandra that they had acquired from the family patriarch back in 1941. Legal dispute over acquisition of the land went on all these years. The family members claimed that they were never paid compensation for the land originally notified by the then Government of Mysore to build a central prison. The prison was never built and though the authorities claim that the award/compensation had been paid, they were unable to produce documents “as they were unavailable”.

The High Court of Karnataka judgment came in favour of Venkatamma, Chandrasekhar and Rathna, the wife and children of Venkatesh. Three acres, 32 guntas of land belonging to Venkatesh’s father Appaiah was part of 131 acres of land the government had acquired in 1941. Both Appaiah and Venkatesh are dead now.

They contended before the HC that 131 acres of land was acquired in 1941 for constructing a central jail. The jail was not built and different portions of the land were allotted to different departments of the government. So far as their lands were concerned, “neither award was passed, nor compensation paid”. The government had transferred 25 acres of land to the Fire Service Department in 1967, but their land was not part of what was now in the department’s possession.

The revenue records were restored in 1992, but the legal battle did not end there. More recently in 2000, the tahsildar effected a mutation in the land records about the 3 acres and 32 guntas in favour of the Director of Fire Force, Fire Force Department in 2000. The assistant commissioner and the deputy commissioner had upheld the tahsildar’s action. The three challenged this in the HC.

The government advocate told the court that the “copy of the award could not be produced because acquisition was of the year 1941 and therefore, documents were unavailable.” However, “there was presumption of legality in respect of acts performed by the public authority and the notification produced acquiring the land disclosed that consequence of acquisition should follow”.

The HC noted that the authorities “have not produced any material to show that award had been passed and compensation had been paid to the present petitioners or their predecessors/co-owners.” The Fire department had also claimed before a civil court in a case regarding the same land that they were not allotted these lands.

The court said that these petitioners are in “the most unfortunate condition” because of the confusion created by the authorities. It said “it is thus clear that rights of the petitioner over these lands cannot be taken away unless the state establishes that an award had been passed and compensation was paid to the petitioners/their predecessors”.

Credits Bangalore Mirror

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