DEVI DASS Vs. STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
HIGH COURT OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
STATE OF HIMACHAL PRADESH
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DEVINDER GUPTA,J -
(1.) Petitioners have approached this Court by filing this petition under Article 226 read with Article 227 of the Constitution of India, seeking to quash the consolidation of holding proceedings in so far as it pertains to the petitioners and respondents No. 4 to 22 carried out within the revenue estate Jadla and Koiri (Hadbast No 627 within Tehsil Amb District Una).
(2.) According to the averments made in the petition, in the year 1953, predecessor of the petitioners purchased l/4th share in land measuring 30 kanals situate within revenue estate Jadla from one Jagat Singh, which at the time of purchase was recorded in the revenue records as Kharkana but after the purchase petitioners effected improvement by making 22 kanals of land cultivable and also dug a deep soil well within the same area to enable them to irrigate the property. This development is stated to have been carried out after spending considerable amount and labour. Though the nature of the land had been changed from Kharkana to cultivable land, yet this change was not reflected in the revenue records. It has further been averred in the petition that in the year 1978, the aforementioned revenue estates were notified under the provisions of the Himachal Pradesh Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1971 (Act No. 20 of 1971) (hereinafter referred to as the Act to enable the State Government to make a scheme of consolidation as per the provisions of the Act. Since the petitioners were temporarily out of the village in connection with their respective avocations in life, on December 22, 1979, application Annexure A was sent to the consolidation officer with a prayer for making correction of entries in the. revenue records and for reserving the entire developed area to the petitioners as a single unit in the event of repartition of the holding When the petitioners received no response to their application Annexure ˜A a reminder Annexure ˜B dated April 28, 1980 was sent. The consolidation officer, vide communication Annexure CC dated May 20, 1980, informed the petitioners that since the consolidation scheme had already been prepared within the revenue estates, therefore, no action could be taken on the application of the petitioners. They were advised to approach respondent No 1 with a petition under section 54 of the Act On June 23, 1980, communication Annexure ˜D was also addressed by the Settlement Officer to the petitioner to the same effect. On October 28, 1980, petitioner No 1 filed a petition under section 54 of the Act before respondent No 2 but the same was dismissed by him on December 23, 1980, vide order Annexure E -l holding that no injustice had been done either to the petitioner or to other co -sharers during repartition. According to the petitioners, this order was passed without affording an opportunity of being heard especially when respondent No. 2 had apprised the petitioners that such a petition was not maintainable In the absence of proper parties. Petitioners No 2 and 3 thereafter moved another petition under section 54 of the Act pointing out various illegalities and irregularities having been committed during the consolidation of holding operation and more particularly, the manner in which their application Annexure ˜A had been rejected. Respondent No 2 on May 15, 1982, passed Annexure ˜G order declining to exercise the powers of State Government under section 54 of the Act on the ground that since a substantive petition filed by petitioner No 1 had already been disposed of on merits by Annexure ˜G order, therefore, any order passed by him would amount to reviewing the earlier order which power did not vest in him. It is the case of the petitioners that as grave procedural irregularities had been committed during the proceedings by rejecting their application Annexure ˜A the entire process of consolidation from the stage of preparation of scheme deserves to be quashed with further direction to carry out consolidation of holding operation as per the provisions of the Act after affording them an opportunity of being heard.
(3.) Respondents No. 1 to 3 have contested the petition by filing their return on the affidavit of respondent No. 2, whereas, respondents Nos, 8, 9 and 10 have filed the return on the affidavit of Ved Parkash respondent No. 8,;
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