SC admits state's plea against actor Upendra for buying agri land

Upendra. PTI file photo.

The Supreme Court on Monday admitted for consideration a plea by the Karnataka government against actor Upendra with regard to a purchase of over 17 acres of agricultural land in Bengaluru by declaring his income to be below Rs two lakh per annum.

A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Sanjay Kishan Kaul granted leave in the special leave petition filed by the state government against the July 31, 2017, judgement of Karnataka high court.

The HC had set aside the government's decision to forfeit the land in question.

On Monday, Additional Advocate General Devadatt Kamat contended that the state government was not singling out Upendra only.

The provisions of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act would be useless if purchases were allowed to be undertaken by such people claiming themselves to be an agriculturalist. The law allowed only those with below Rs two lakh per annum income to buy agricultural land, he said.

He submitted an affidavit filed by Assistant Commissioner, Bengaluru south division, stating that as many as 56,710 cases involving 1,12,814.03 acres have been filed under the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961 in 30 districts between 2005 and 2016.

In 5,813 cases, so far 13,966 acres have been forfeited during the period.

The government's response comes after the apex court's query on January 10 to explain as to in how many cases, the provisions of the law was invoked and the land was forfeited.

After hearing the state counsel, the bench admitted the matter for consideration and sought a response from 41-year-old Upendra, formally named as B M Upendra Kumar.

Upendra had purchased 17 acres and 10 guntas of agricultural land at Tavarakere Hobli in 2005. On a report of the Tahsildar, the Assistant Commissioner, Bangalore south subdivision, however, initiated suo motu proceedings under the Karnataka Land Reforms Act and ordered on June 26, 2009, to forfeit the land.

He filed an appeal before the Karnataka Appellate Tribunal which rejected his plea on November 3, 2009.

However, Upendra, declaring himself as an agriculturalist-cum-cine artist, filed a writ petition before the high court, which allowed his plea on the grounds that the proceedings against him were initiated two years after the purchase of the land.

It also noted that the proceedings were started when he approached the authorities for change of revenue entries.

He was also granted the benefit of an amendment to the law raising the income ceiling from Rs two to 25 lakh.

The actor, subsequently, raised a loan of Rs 35 lakh for development of the land. In his plea, he claimed to be a member of Hindu undivided family engaged in agriculture in Kundapur.

Liked the story?

  • 4

    Happy
  • 3

    Amused
  • 1

    Sad
  • 0

    Frustrated
  • 3

    Angry