Land scam inquiry chief also got a questionable site

Land scam inquiry chief also got a questionable site

While former High Court Judge B Padmaraj has been named to head the commission of inquiry into illegalities related to allotment and denotification of land in Bangalore, the government may have overlooked his suitability for the post.

For, Justice Padmaraj is the recipient of a plot from a housing society, the actions of which have been legally challenged several times in the past.

In 2007, a Joint Legislature committee had listed Justice Padmaraj as one among the 84 high court and Supreme Court judges who received sites allotted by the Karnataka State Judicial Department Employees House Building Co-operative Society (HBCS). The committee, headed by A T Ramaswamy, found that “..Judicial Employees Society which should have been a model to the other house building cooperative societies has itself become the leading law-breaker without the least fear or care of law, propriety, or public interest.”

First, the committee found that the Society had violated the Karnataka Land Reforms Act by acquiring 36 acres of private agricultural land in Bangalore North Taluk without prior approval of the government. The Act states that any such acquired land shall be forfeited after a summary enquiry by the Assistant Commissioner. However, not all the land acquired by the Society was deemed illegal: the government had handed over another 156 acres in the same villages.

The Ramaswamy committee also noted in its report that the layout did not have approval from Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) which was the planning authority under the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act.

The report notes: “The Judicial Employees HBCS then submitted its layout to the City Municipal Council, Yelahanka which is not the Planning Authority for the lands of the HBCS as the BDA is the concerned authority under the Town and Country Planning Act.” Under the Act, the BDA can take possession of the buildings and use them for its own purpose.

The appropriateness of both sitting and retired judges being allotted sites was also questioned by the committee. The committee writes: “The HBCS has allotted sites to persons who are not eligible for allotment of sites as judicial employees... Most noteworthy of such ineligible persons are the High Court judges many of whom have been allotted sites.” The committee also found that the layout has violated norms for allocation for civic amenities and parks. Town planning norms mandate 25 pc for civic amenities, while the original layout plan envisages only 5 pc.

When Deccan Herald attempted to contact Justice Padmaraj, his office replied that he does not receive any calls from the media.

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