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Kerala Wetland Act | Ignorance Of Law & Its Development Through Judgments Main Reason For Accumulation Of Cases: High Court

Athira Prasad
4 July 2022 4:24 AM GMT
Kerala Wetland Act | Ignorance Of Law & Its Development Through Judgments Main Reason For Accumulation Of Cases: High Court

The Kerala High Court recently observed that the primary cause of cases stockpiling under the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008 was the ignorance of law and its developments through judicial decisions.

Justice P.V Kunhikrishnan thereby set aside orders passed by the Local Level Monitoring Committee and by the Revenue Division Officer, citing unsustainability under the law, while calling the petition a classic example of such ignorance.

"Ignorance of law and ignorance of the development of law through the judgments of the constitutional Courts are the main reasons for the accumulation of cases before this Court in the jurisdiction relating to the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act, 2008."

In this case, the permit issued by the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) under Section 27(1) of the Act to the petitioner for the construction of a commercial building on his property was subsequently revoked by the same officer pursuant to the Local Level Monitoring Committee's (LLMC) order.

The Committee's order reported that the petitioner's land was at a lower level in the data bank and if developed, the neighbouring properties were likely to be submerged. Aggrieved by the said orders of the RDO and LLMC, the petitioner moved the High Court.

He contended that the RDOhas no case that he violated any of the conditions imposed in the permit to cancel his permit under Section 27A (11). He further contended that the statute does not confer any power of review on the Revenue Divisional Officer to review his earlier order and cancel the same.

Reliance was placed on the judgment in Sakeer Hussain & Ors v. State of Kerala & Ors [2020 (5) KLT 450] to decide this case.

In that case, it was found that S.27A (11) would empower the RDO either suo motu or, on an application of any aggrieved party, to cancel the order of permission granted under sub-section (2) if the conditions specified in the said order issued therein are not complied with by the applicant concerned, either fully or partially.

However, the said power under S.27A(11) is extremely limited in nature and the merits of the matter are not relevant under this limited power.

It was also held that the appellant jurisdiction available to the District Collector under Section 27B to consider the matter cannot be invoked by the RDO.

"Such an exercise of power under S.27A(11) is impermissible and is without jurisdiction, and the legal position in that regard is accordingly ordered and declared. Emphasis is to be down to the fact that the only ground on the basis of which order in the nature of S.27A(11) can be passed so as to cancel the conversion order granted under S.27A(2) is that the applicant concerned has not complied with the conditions attached to conversion order as per S.27A(2) either fully or partially."

Referring to Sakeer Hussain (supra), Justice Kunhikrishnan observed that orders passed by the LLMC and the RDO are unsustainable as the only reason for cancellation of the order passed under Section 27A can be a violation of the condition mentioned under Sec.27A(11) and in this present case, the petitioner had not violated any condition.

The Court further noted that the order passed by the RDO was because of the ignorance of the law:

"Bare reading of Sec.27A(11) of the Act, 2008 itself will show that an order passed under Sec.27A can be cancelled only in certain conditions mentioned in Sec.27A(11). Admittedly, there is no such violation of the conditions. If that is the case, order is unsustainable in law. The Revenue Divisional Officer being a statutory authority, should know the law and the dictum laid down by this Court."

Justice Kunhikrishnan further directed the State to take appropriate steps to ensure that the Revenue Divisional Officers invoking powers under the Act are doing their quasi-judicial duties in accordance with the law. If necessary, sufficient training was to be given to them regularly in consultation with the Advocate General so that such things will not happen in the future.

As such, allowing the writ petition, the Court set aside the orders passed by LLMC and the Revenue Divisional Officer.

Advocates R. Surendran and S. Mayukha appeared for the petitioner while Government Pleader Vidya Kuriakose, Advocates Rajab Vishnuraj and V. Harish appeared for the respondents in the matter.

Case Title: Vasu Kallayi v. State of Kerala & Ors.

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Ker) 320

Click Here To Read/Download The Order

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