Scheme of Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and the Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967 discussed

Supreme Court: While deciding a question of substantial importance as to whether the order of conversion of land passed by the Tahsildar under Kerala Land Tax Act would circumvent the provisions of beneficial legislations such as Kerala Conservation of Paddy and Wetland Act, 2008 and the Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967 (KLUO), the bench of V. Gopala Gowda and R. Banumathi, JJ held that the nature of the land cannot be changed or converted by directing changes in the basic tax register which is maintained only for the purpose of land tax. The Court dealt in detail with the provisions of abovementioned Act and the KLU Order and observed that statutory enquiry to ascertain whether the land is a “Paddy Land” or “Wetland” and conversion of the land for residential purpose or for any public purpose is governed by KLU Order or the Kerala Wetland Act, 2008 for conversion of the land from “Nilam” (Wetland) to ‘Purayidam’ (Dry Land). The concerned authorities under the Order and the Act are the competent authorities to decide on such conversion.

Discussing the scheme of both the relevant legislations, the Court analysed the object of KLUO which is (a) to bring occupied waste or arable lands likely to be left fallow during a cultivation season under cultivation with paddy or other food crops; (b) to prevent the conversion of any land cultivated with food crops for other purpose, except with the written permission of the District Collector or the Revenue Divisional Officers in case the powers of District Collectors have been delegated to them. It also referred to clause 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of the Order. It further examined the object of the Act which is to conserve the paddy land and wetland and to restrict the conversion or reclamation thereof, in order to promote growth in the agricultural sector and to sustain the ecological system in the State of Kerala. Section 3 of the Act prohibiting conversion of land is also relevant and Section 13 read with Section 3 provides that District Collector is empowered to order re-conversion of the land only if reclamation or conversion was made after the commencement of the provisions of the Act. The Court also pointed out that the Act provides for local level monitoring committee, State level and District level committee to ensure proper implementation. 

Also referring to section 18 of the Kerala Land Tax Act, it was observed that it cannot be used as a means to affect conversion of the nature of the land bye-passing the competent authority and the procedure. The Court allowed the appeal and set aside the impugned judgment of the High Court thereby directing the respondents, in connected matters to approach the competent authorities constituted under the Order and the 2008 Act. Revenue Divisional Officer Fort, Kochi v. Jalaja Dileep, 2015 SCC OnLine SC 194, decided on 10.03.2015

2 comments

  • The main documents regarding Kerala land is kept and maintained by Revenue Department ,Survey and land records department,Registration Department Agriculture Department Local Self Government Bodies There is no coordination between the departments
    They do not consult or get the consent of the concerned departments while according several sanctions The end result is that the records regarding land in those offices and documents with owners and holders are out dated Though the documents are to be true ,they are false

    We may see several land documents ,where big buildings, institutions are noted as fallow or paddy land ,as a paddy land This was the result of the fact that ,the local bodies did not consider it necessary to consult other departments before according building permit Even in cases where building permits are allowed in wet land/paddy land ,by ignoring the relevant laws and rules as before the act of 2008 ,the implementation o off paddy land was not considered as an active act The act was ignored as a passive act ,an ignorable act even by responsible authorities

    We may note that several public buildings are built in paddy fields without obtaining permission from land revenue authorities Coconut board has given subsidies for planting coconuts in paddy fields ,by reclaiming the land Most of such coconut gardens grown in paddy fields remained as fields remained as paddy fields in documents and building permits were issued ,with out considering the fact that ,no formal sanction is received for the reclamation of the land This resulted in reduction of paddy land in the state It also resulted in the fact that
    the documents of lands in kerala do not match with the reality
    The land documents became incredible We can see where big office,shopping complexes are situated are shown as paddy fields in records and documents

    In order to make the records and documents reliable and true ,a campaign is needed Otherwise the objective of the law can not be achieve Whether the rules in this regard are sufficient is to be examined

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