V.BALASUBRAMANIAN CHAIRMAN, TASK FORCE FOR RECOVERY AND PROTECTION OF GOVERNMENT LANDS in his report dated 30-06-2011
14. The basic proof for land grant is the entry made in the Dharkhast (Land Grant) Register and the Saguvali Chit Register maintained in the Taluk Office from which after payment of the upset price (if the grant is not free for SC/ST persons) by Treasury Challan, the Saguvali Chit is issued. Prior to this, the applications for land grant has to be verified by the Taluk Office regarding eligibility, availability of excess gomal, local enquiry by Revenue Inspectors regarding objections, preparing sketch maps, etc. But it is seen that in many cases, especially in Bangalore Urban District and surrounding urbanized taluks even though there was no land grant made following the provisions of the Land Grant Rules, the Revenue officials make entries in the RTC forms. On that basis the land grabbers claim for Grant Certificates and Saguvali Chits. The Taluk Office then prepares "Missing Records" with the illegal interpretation that the records in the taluk office are missing. It has been verified by the Task Force that the original Dharkhast and Saguvali Chit Registers are not at all missing and are very much available in the Record Rooms. What is "missing" is the entry relating to the claimant because, in reality, no such grant was made. Such factual position is concealed by the officials deliberately and "MISSING RECORDS" are built up as if grant records are not available in the taluk office and orders from Deputy Commissioner or even from government are then obtained for the grant.
15. In some cases bogus Saguvali Chit itself is created which is an offence of fraud and creation of false evidence under the Indian Penal Code apart from the provisions of the Land Revenue Act. In one such case in Kengeri hobli in Bangalore South taluk it was found that the Saguvali Chit is issued by the Bangalore South tahsildar in the year 1939 and recommended by the Village Accountant. The fraudsters did not verify that Bangalore Taluk was bifurcated into North and South only in 1940 and the post of Village Accountant was created only in 1968 and till then there were only Shanbogues. However, on the basis of such bogus saguvali chits many persons have grabbed lands in the State and have even obtained decrees from Civil Courts.
16. Even though the Government have issued detailed instructions to the Revenue officers vide circulars dated 30-10-2002, 20-10-2008, 6-8-2009 and 17-9-2009 directing the officials to verify the original and basic records before confirming any lands as KABJEDAR of any land, the practice of not verifying the original records and flouting of government circulars has continued resulting in large scale land grabbing abetted by officials. Hence, the Joint Legislature Committee during 2006-07 had specifically asked the Revenue officials in Bangalore Urban district to report such cases under section 136(3) of the Land Revenue Act to the Deputy Commissioner. Section 136 deals with the Presumption of the Entries in the RTC form which is a REBUTTABLE PRESUMPTION. Where there is doubt about such entry, the Deputy Commissioner can enquire into matter and after giving due notice to the claimants and can pass orders to cancel such wrong entries under section 136(3). This power of the Deputy Commissioner and subsequent cancellation has been upheld by the Courts in various cases.
17. For instance in WPs. 17470 of 2007 (KLR-RES) and No.11676 of 2007 (KLR-RES) dated 15-9-2008 the Hon'ble High Court of Karnataka held that: 8. In so far as the Writ Petition of Vasudeva Rao is concerned, admittedly he has not produced the grant certificate. He has not produced the Saguvali Chit....The tahsildar on enquirty found that the ('mutation,) entries were made without any basis (and) he is duty-bound to bring the same to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner and he has requested the Deputy Commissioner to take action under Section 136(3) of the Act which confers power on the Deputy Commissioner to initiate suo moto proceedings....In fact for such initiation of proceedings there is no time limit. All this is done to protect the public interest....He (the Writ Petitioner) will be evicted in accordance with law by initiating proceedings under the Act...The Writ Petitions are dismissed."
18. In another land mark judgment No.WP 3069/2008 KLR dated 20-8-2010, the Hon'ble High Court held that even if the Tahsil Office does not produce the original records, it is still mandatory on the part of the claimant of the land to produce the original documents issued to him entitling him to the land. In this case the Hon'ble High Court held: " The Petitioners should have been diligent in justifying the revenue entries (in the RTC and Mutation Register), and the right to the properties when the revenue authorities have pointed out that there were no records in their custody." In other words, it is not always necessary for the Revenue Department to produce the original records if they are not available with it, but it is stll necessary for the claimant to prove his title.
19. Following these orders the Task Force had written detailed letters to the Deputy Commissioners, Assistant Commissioners and Tahsildars to initiate proceedings before the Deputy Commissioner concerned under section 136(3) and had asked the Deputy Commissioners to verify the original registers such as the Dharkahst Register and Saguvali Chit Register as these are difficult to manipulate and tampering with them can be easily made out and not to just rely on the RTC entries or actual possession by the claimant and to initiate proceedings to evict the land grabbers. ILLEGAL ORDERS PASSED u/s 136(3) BY THE SPECIAL DEPUTY COMMISSIONER, BANGALORE URBAN DISTRICT
20. It came to the notice of the Task Force that in a large number of cases the Special Deputy Commissioner has passed orders u/136 (3) conferring title to the claimants disregarding the reports of the Tahsildars and violating the Government instructions to follow the procedure of verification of original documents. It was seen that in just four taluks of Bangalore Urban district, the Special Deputy Commissioner had passed orders favouring the claimants in 428 cases involving 1,042 acres valued at least Rs.1,500 crores. In all these cases the government would have lost the lands to the land grabbers. However, to establish his intransigence, the Task Force requested the Regional Commissioner, Bangalore to examine the procedure followed in these cases and whether there were original grants. The Regional Commissioner constituted 18 teams of Revenue Auditors to examine each of these 428 cases and submitted a detailed report in February 2011 to the Government and to the Task Force that in none of these cases the original documents were examined and government lands were conferred on the claimants merely on the basis of entries in the RTC forms and Mutation Entries, etc.
21. To reverse the orders of the Special Deputy Commissioner, government have to file Writ Petitions only before the High Court. As the cases were numerous and the lands involved are very valuable, the Task Force felt that such large number of cases cannot be handled by the regular Government Advocates who are over-burdened, and therefore met the Advocate General who kindly recommended 10 Special Advocates to handle these cases. Accordingly the 10 Special Advocates have been appointed to take up these cases before the High Court by providing them with all necessary documents.
22. As there are still about 7,000 cases pending under section 136(3) of the Act, Government have appointed 3 Special Deputy Commissioners who, in addition to the existing Special Deputy Commissioner of the District, have to dispose of these cases. The Task Force has impressed upon them by letters and by meetings the need to follow the correct procedure of verifying the original registers and documents while disposing of these cases.
23. Incidentally, the then Special Deputy Commissioner who had passed orders in the 428 cases in favour of the land grabbers is under suspension, having been arrested by the Lok Ayukta under the Prevention of Corruption Act in October 2010.