Kerala High Court Sets Aside State Human Rights Commission's Order On Land Dispute

Navya Benny

2 Feb 2023 12:48 PM GMT

  • Kerala High Court Sets Aside State Human Rights Commissions Order On Land Dispute

    The Kerala High Court on Wednesday set aside Kerala State Human Rights Commission's 2016 order directing authorities to take steps to restore a piece of land for the purposes of a public well.The issue related to dispute of a land measuring 7.30 ares — the land had been purchased by one Abdul Hameed; while the re-survey showed that the property is 7.30 Ares, the sale deed reflected that...

    The Kerala High Court on Wednesday set aside Kerala State Human Rights Commission's 2016 order directing authorities to take steps to restore a piece of land for the purposes of a public well.

    The issue related to dispute of a land measuring 7.30 ares — the land had been purchased by one Abdul Hameed; while the re-survey showed that the property is 7.30 Ares, the sale deed reflected that only 6.52 was in the name of the purchaser. 

    In 2015, a complaint was filed by residents of Sakariya Ward, Alapuzha before the Commission that the excess land had been set apart by the earlier owner for construction of a well. The well has been demolished and the Municipal Secretary has given permission for filing it and to construct a building there, it was alleged.

    The Commission had ruled that since the earlier landlord had given up the land for a public well, steps have to be taken to restore the same. It had directed Additional Tahsildar to submit a report to this effect within one month, and the Municipal Secretary Alappuzha to take steps to stop the construction that was being carried out in the excess land. 

    The order was challenged before the high court by the land purchaser.

    The Division Bench of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Murali Purushothaman said:

    "....from a reading of the order made in HRMP No. 2294 of 2015 dated 03.06.2016, it is apparent that the said order has been passed solely after taking note of the reports of the Additional Tahsildar, Ambalappuzha as well as the Municipal Secretary, Alappuzha. There is no reference in the impugned order as to whether the writ petitioner has been given an opportunity to explain or rebut the averments made in the complaint. Therefore, in our view, violation of natural justice is per se evident"

    The land purchaser K Abdul Hameed contended that the KSHRC is only empowered to conduct enquiry of a complaint preferred by a victim or any person for violation of the human rights or abetment thereof or negligence in the prevention of such violation, as per Section 12 of the Protection of the Human Rights Act, 1993.

    It was argued that the civil dispute in this case regarding a property having excess land is not within the scope of the KSHRC and the order issued by it ought to be set aside. 

    Advocates S. Krishnamoorthy and Nithya Sugunan argued on behalf of the petitioner that the petitioner's building was in the entire area and the excess land, if any, had already been purchased by him from the previous owner.

    It was contended that the petitioner had also not been given an opportunity of hearing nor was any notice issued to him before the impugned order was passed.

    The Court said although several contentions had been raised assailing the correctness of the impugned order, it is not inclined to delve into the issues on merits as violation of natural justice is per se evident.

    It thus set aside the impugned order of the KSHRC and remitted the matter back to it. 

    "As the complaint is of the year 2015, Kerala State Human Rights Commission is requested to disposed of the same, after providing an opportunity of hearing to all parties concerned, as expeditiously as possible", it observed, while disposing of the petition. 

    Senior Government Pleader V. Tekchand, Standing Counsel of Alappuzha Municipality Advocate Azad Babu, and Advocate Premlatha K. Nair appeared on behalf of the respondents. 

    Case Title: K. Abdul Hameed v. Kerala State Human Rights Commission & Ors. 

    Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Ker) 59

    Click Here To Read/Download The Judgment

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