The Karnataka High Court has ordered the authorities to hand over 354 acres and 10 guntas of land held by Jamnalal Bajaj Seva Trust off Magadi Road immediately, calling the Land Tribunal's (Bengaluru North) position "reprehensible."
The chief secretary has also been directed to take appropriate corrective action and ensure that revenue officers serving as members or secretaries of such land tribunals are properly apprised of the legal position.
“In the case of Ran Vijay Singh and others vs. State of Uttar Pradesh and others, the Supreme Court exclaimed, ‘What a shambles! This is also true in this case,” Justice PS Dinesh Kumar stated.
The judge ruled that it is unconstitutional for a tribunal to disregard any direction given by the HC to consider the report pertaining to those lands, which stated that they are rocky and uncultivable.
“According to the application submitted to the Collector (DC), Wardha, the purpose of purchasing the land is to establish an ashram near Bengaluru. There is no cultivable land depicted in the revenue report or survey sketch. Despite this court's order, the tribunal has refused to consider the report,” the judge added.
Excess property claim
The Land Tribunal issued its third order declaring these lands surplus on November 28, 2017, but it was not communicated to the trust. The trust found out about it from a newspaper article published on December 7, 2017.
On the same day, revenue officials arrived at the campus and prepared three mahazars before taking possession of the land. The trust also challenged the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal's April 20, 2019 order, which upheld the DC's order refusing to convert these parcels to "agricultural lands."
According to the trust, Acharya Vinobha Bhave inspired one of the trustees, Kamal Nayan Bajaj, to establish an International Sarvodaya Centre in Bengaluru. On June 23, 1958, a resolution was passed to acquire land in Bengaluru.
Following approval from the Wardha collector to invest trust funds, 400 acres were purchased in the villages of Herohalli, Srigandhadakaval, and Gidadakonenahalli under a sale deed dated February 22, 1960. Between 1962 and 1972, the trust established the International Sarvodaya Centre known as 'Vishwaneedam' and engaged in social/rural development activities.
The Karnataka Land Reforms Act-1961 was amended on March 1, 1974, to set a limit of 20 units for charitable institutions' land holdings.
Despite the fact that the provisions of the Land Reforms Act did not apply to the trust's lands, it filed a declaration in Form 11 with the Land Tribunal regarding 400 acres.
Despite the fact that the lands were un cultivable, the tribunal issued orders directing the trust to surrender 213 acres and 20 guntas and 265 acres and 24 guntas of land, respectively, in 2010 and 2015.
The HC had remanded the case to the Land Tribunal on both occasions.