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Dr. Vimal Vincent v/s Revenue Division Officer/Sub Collector, Revenue Divisional Office, Irijalakuda, Thrissur & Others


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    WP(C). No. 30555 of 2019 (T)

    Decided On, 27 November 2019

    At, High Court of Kerala

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE DEVAN RAMACHANDRAN

    For the Petitioner: P.K. Soyuz, E.V. Babychan, Advocates. For the Respondents: R1-R4, Government Pleader, Shanilkumar, PL. GP.



Judgment Text


1. The manner of computation of the fee, to be paid by the owner of a property, under the provisions of Section 27A(3) of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Act (hereinafter referred to as the “Paddy Land Act” for short) has been drawn into rumination in this writ petition.

2. The specific stipulations of Section 27A of the afore Act will need a quick glance, if one has to fully appreciate the issues impelled in this writ petition, for which purpose, I reproduce it as below:

“Section 27A: Change of nature of unnotified land:

(1) if any owner of an unnotified land desires to utilize such land for residential or commercial or for other purpose, he shall apply to the Revenue Divisional Officer for permission in such manner as may be prescribed.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in any judgment, decree or order of any Court or Tribunal or any other authority, the Revenue Divisional Officer may, after considering the reports of the Village Officer concerned, pass such orders as deemed fit and proper on such applications, ensuring that there is no disruption to the free flow of water to the neighbouring paddy lands, if any, through such water conservancy measures as is deemed necessary:

Provided that, if the area of such parcel of land where the application is allowed is more than 20.2 Ares, ten per cent of such land shall be set apart for water conservancy measures.

(3) If the application is allowed, the applicant shall be liable to pay a fee at such rate as may be prescribed:

Provided that, no such fee shall be collected if the applicant proves that the land where the application is allowed is, filled up or naturally filled up before the 4th day of July, 1967, the date of commencement of the Kerala Land Utilization Order, 1967, after completing such procedure, as may be prescribed.”

3. The cause that has forced the petitioner to approach this Court will be clear from the facts presented, which, I will narrate first compendiously.

4. The petitioner has filed this writ petition impugning Ext.P7 notice, as per which, the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) has directed him to remit certain amounts, as being the fees under the provisions of Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act.

5. As per the petitioner, as is evident from Ext.P7, the RDO has quantified the amount payable by him, not based on the Fair Value of his property the conversion of which has now been regularized under the provisions of Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act but on the basis of the Fair Value of a neighbouring property. The petitioner says that this is untenable, going by the afore extracted prescriptions of the Paddy Land Act, as also Rule 12(9) of the Kerala Conservation of Paddy Land and Wetland Rules (hereinafter referred to as 'the Paddy Land Rules' for short), which mandates that only the Fair Value of the property in question be taken into account while quantifying the fee to be paid under Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act.

6. The petitioner further says that the definition of 'Fair Value', as provided under Section 2(viA) of the Paddy Land Act, makes it ineluctable that it is the value of a property notified under Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act, 1959 and no other; and that it is only in the case where it has not been so notified, can the Fair Value for similarly situated lands be taken into account. The petitioner, therefore, prays that Ext.P7 be set aside and the RDO be directed to recalculate the fees payable by him in terms of the afore provisions.

7. In response, the learned Special Government Pleader, Shri.Hanil Kumar, submits that the RDO has issued Ext.P7 order, since it was found that the Fair Value of the property of the petitioner, notified under Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act, was fixed incorrectly - a lower value - having been ascribed to it in the relevant notification wrongly deeming it to be a 'Wet Land'. He says that once conversion of the property had been regularized through Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act, its value rose exponentially; and it is, therefore, that the RDO decided to adopt the Fair Value with respect to a neighbouring property for the purpose of quantifying the fee payable by the petitioner under Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act. He, therefore, prays that Ext.P7 be left uninterdicted and the petitioner be directed to pay the fees as per the directions therein.

8. Even when I hear the learned Special Government Pleader on the afore lines, it is rendered without doubt, on a conjoint reading of Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act and Rule 12(9) of the Paddy Land Rules, that the fee payable under the former provision can be computed solely on the Fair Value of the property fixed as per Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act. Even a cursory reading of Rule 12(9) of the Paddy Land Rules would render this irrefutable, and, therefore, to enable its full reading, I extract it below:

“MALAYALAM”

9. This is then amply fortified by Schedule 2 to the Paddy Land Rules, wherein it is specified that the fees under Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act will be the specified percentage of the “Fair Value of the property involved”.

10. Further, as rightly submitted by the learned counsel for the petitioner, the term ”Fair Value” has been defined in the Paddy Land Act to mean the value of the property in question, notified under Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act. This is limpid from the statutory definition available in Section 2(viA) of the Paddy Land Act, which reads as under:

2(viA) “Fair value” means the fair value of the land fixed under Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act, 1959 (17 of 1959) or where the fair value of the land has not been fixed, the fair value of the land fixed for similar and similarly situated land;

11. It, therefore, becomes indubitably manifest from the above that the fee under Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act can be quantified only on the basis of the Fair Value of the specific property involved, as fixed and notified under Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act and in no other manner; and consequently, I cannot find favour with Ext.P7 proceedings of the RDO, which adopts the Fair Value of a similarly placed property but not the Fair Value of the property in question, even though the same has been concededly notified under the Kerala Stamp Act, as is evident from Exts.P5 and P6.

12. In the afore forensic background, it is unnecessary to further say that the contention of the learned Government Pleader-that on grant of permission under Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act, the value of the property would rise augmentally and therefore, that its notified Fair Value cannot be adopted to assess the fee payable under the said Section-would garner no legal force. This is luculent because, when the provisions of law mandate that only the notified Fair Value be reckoned for such purpose, it is only that which can be taken into account and no other.

In such perspective, even the argument that there was a mistake in notifying the value of the property under Section 28A of the Kerala Stamp Act would be of no avail, since nothing had prevented the competent Authorities under the said Act in rectifying such mistake, even assuming there was any such, through due process; but the RDO cannot be heard to say unilaterally that he deems

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such notification to be in error and then to fix the value as he pleases. This is contrary to law and opposed to the delineated perimeters of the jurisdiction of the said Authority under the Paddy Land Act Resultantly, I allow this writ petition and set aside Ext.P7, and consequently, direct the RDO and such other competent Authorities to quantify the fee payable by the petitioner under Section 27A of the Paddy Land Act in terms of the observations above and to intimate him appropriately within a period of two weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment; in which event, the petitioner will be liable to pay the same forthwith, so as to obtain final orders under the said section from the RDO, which shall be issued without any further delay thereafter. This writ petition is thus ordered.
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