The High Court of Kerala has held that there is no absolute prohibition in considering an application seeking permission to use paddy land for residential purposes, even if the property was purchased after the commencement of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetlands Act 2008('The Act').
Holding thus, a single bench of Justice Alexander Thomas set aside the order passed by the District Collector which rejected an application seeking permission under Section 9 of the Act for use of purpose of residential use.
The Court was considering a writ petition filed by one K Murali, who sought such permission on the ground that he belonged to urban poor category.
The District Collector referred to a 2017 decision of the Kerala HC in Thankachan v. District Collector [2017 (3) KLT 35], which held that a person who obtained the property after the commencement of 2008 Act cannot seek permission for converting it for residential use.
The petitioner's counsel, Advocates Lindons C Davis & E U Dhanya, contended that the rejection of the application merely on the ground that the property was obtained after the commencement of the Act, without considering other relevant factors, was arbitrary and also violative of right to property under Article 300A of the Constitution.
It was also pointed out that the division bench decision in Yousuf Chalil v.State of Kerala [2019 (4) KLT 33] had observed that there was no express prohibition in considering such an application.
Taking note of the division bench decision in Yousuf Chalil, Justice Alexander Thomas held :
"In the light of the abovesaid categorical view rendered by the Division Bench of this Court in Yousuf Chalil's case (supra) [2019 (4) KLT 540], the approach made by the 2nd respondent District Collector as if an application preferred by a party like the petitioner seeking the benefit of Sec.9 of the 2008 Act for permission to construct a residential building in the limited extent of land should be automatically dismissed or rejected merely on the ground that the party concerned has obtained the said property after coming into force of the 2008 Act by itself cannot be justifiable. Such a strict approach made by the 2nd respondent, District Collector as per the impugned Ext.P6 separate order, may not be justifiable or warranted in the light of the categorical views rendered by the Division Bench of this Court in Yousuf Chalil's case (supra) [2019 (4) KLT 540]".
The Court however clarified that it does not mean that the application should be automatically allowed. The Court disposed of the writ petition directing the authorities to consider the application afresh by ascertaining the correctness of the assertions of the petitioner.
Case Title : K Murali v State of Kerala
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