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PLANTATION LAND CONTROVERSY OF PUTUR PENDING IN SUPREME COURT

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It was contended on behalf of the State that the Tahsildar being the Secretary of the Land Tribunal should have sent the declaration filed under Section 66 of the Act by the three declarants, to the Deputy Commissioner to be dealt with under the provision of Section 79B of the Act, to consider the question by the registered partnership firm is valid or not; instead he proceeded to submit the report to the Land Tribunal which has no jurisdiction to decide the question about the lands purchased by the firm, the Tahsildar should not have been merely dependant upon the certificates of the Cardamom Board and Rubber Board to conclude that the lands in question are plantation lands, the Tahsildar has fraudulently prepared the inspection report according to which he visited the lands in question within a day and that he could not visit every nook and corner of the lands in question, that the Land Tribunal should also not have entertained the declaration filed under Section 66 of the Act as the lands have been purchased and held by the registered firm, that the Tribunal also says that the members of the Land Tribunal inspected the lands within one day, which is a make believe affair; that the statement made before the High Court in W.P. No. 42774/1982 that the excess lands have been surrendered, is also a fraud practiced on the Court inasmuch as the declarants have not actually surrendered the excess lands; that the learned Judge who decided W.P. No. 10920/1983 has opined that the Tahsildar being the Government official, there was no need to send notice to the State or other officials, that when the Tahsildar who is directly concerned with the case has practiced fraud, learned Judge should have issued notice to the Deputy Commissioner or Revenue Secretary; that the learned Judge while disposing of W.P. No. 10920/1983 has opined that the declarants claim the lands not as partners but in their personal capacity which is an error apparent on the face of the record as the declaration itself has been filed as the partners of firm; that fraud vitiates everything and therefore the order passed by the Tribunal as well as by the High Court in W.P. No. 10920/1983 are null and void as they are obtained by the declarants by practicing fraud. Therefore the review petition was filed.

Stand of the respondents on the other hand was that no fraud was committed by the respondents or by the Secretary of the Land Tribunal. Error of judgment cannot be equated to fraud and since there was a delay of 14 years in filing the review petition even after the Deputy Commissioner allegedly discovered the alleged fraud on 10.2.2003 the delay in filing the review petition which was in fact filed on 8.10.2004 has not been explained. It was their stand that non filing of the appeal by the State will not amount to fraud by the officials of the State.

The case at hand is a classic example where the circumstances are the same. More than 4000 acres of land are involved out of which, according to the State, nearly 3500 acres constitute forest land. Ultimately, the Court has to protect the public justice. The same cannot be rendered ineffective by skillful management of delay in the process of making challenge to the order which prima facie does not appear to be legally sustainable.

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