4 Dec 2023 5:37 AM GMT
The Supreme Court recently held that the Lok Ayukta, under the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act 1999, cannot issue positive directions and that it only has the jurisdiction to submit a report to the concerned authority with its recommendations.A bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Rajesh Bindal made reference to the judgments of the Kerala High Court in Sudha Devi K. v. District Collector 2017...
The Supreme Court recently held that the Lok Ayukta, under the Kerala Lok Ayukta Act 1999, cannot issue positive directions and that it only has the jurisdiction to submit a report to the concerned authority with its recommendations.
A bench of Justice Vikram Nath and Justice Rajesh Bindal made reference to the judgments of the Kerala High Court in Sudha Devi K. v. District Collector 2017 SCC OnLine Ker 1264 and District Collector v. Registrar, Kerala Lokayukta, AIR 2023 Ker 97 in this regard. In the aforesaid two judgments of the High Court, the provisions of the Kerala Lokayukta Act, 1999 Act were rightly interpreted, the Court said.
“..in terms of Section 12(1) of the 1999 Act, Lok Ayukta was not competent to issue positive direction. He can only submit a report with the concerned authority with its recommendations. They only have recommendatory jurisdiction. A Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta is not appellate or supervisory authority over other competent forums created under different statutes, as each of those statues provide its own remedial steps such as appeal, revision etc” the Apex Court said, referring to the above judgments.
Section 12 of the 1999 Act states that in case the Lokayukta or Upa Lokayukta is satisfied with any action/inaction of a party which has resulted in injustice/hardship to the complainant, it shall submit a report in writing, recommending to the competent authority to remedy this injustice or hardship.
The Apex Court was hearing a challenge against a Kerala High Court order, whereby a Writ Petition was filed by an Additional Tahsildar against an order of the Upa Lokayukta that had directed the correction of revenue records of the property of the complainant. The appeal by the Tahsildar was dismissed by the High Court, subsequent to which an appeal was filed in the Apex Court.
The complaint filed before the Lokayukta, raised a grievance regarding correction of an error in the revenue records of a certain property and for mutation of the same in the name of legal heirs of the complainant. The Lokayukta directed the Tehsildar to rectify the mistake in the revenue records and to also receive tax from the complainant.
The Appellant argued before the Apex Court that the Lokayukta is not a supervisory body above other statutory authorities. The jurisdiction given to the Lokayukta was only to address the issue of maladministration, but in this case, it travelled beyond its jurisdiction to deal with the matter on merits and issued positive directions for correction of revenue records, it was contended.
The Apex Court also noted that the Respondent-Complainant had not availed any appropriate statutory remedy after the rejection of his request for rectification of revenue records.
The High Court had upheld the direction issued by the Upa Lokayukta for correction of the revenue records, which goes beyond the jurisdiction of the Lokayukta, the Apex Court said.
The Apex Court thus held that the order passed by the High Court and the Upa Lokayukta was not legally sustainable and set aside the orders.
Case Title: ADDITIONAL TAHSILDAR V. URMILA G., CIVIL APPEAL NO(S). ___ OF 2023 (Arising out of S.L.P.(C) No.2652 OF 2023
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 1034
Click here to read/download judgment