HC okays action against T John

Former state minister accused of grabbing 490 acres of Jamma land

HC okays action against T John

Hearing a public interest litigation by Pramila Nesargi, senior counsel and party in person, the division bench headed by Justice V G Sabhahit directed the State Government and the State Forest Department to initiate action against all those who violated the terms of lease. “The government is at liberty to initiate action against those lease holders in accordance with law,” the bench observed.

The bench also directed forest officials to submit an action taken report within three months. The petitioner had moved the high court seeking action against the former minister for claiming reserve forest land (Jamma Malai land) to an extent of 468 acres 72 cents and 19.34 acres of land  (survey numbers 129/3, 154/2, 154/5, 170, 154/8, 173 and 174) at Cheleavara Village, Napoklu.

In a petition filed in 2003, the petitioners had submitted that the land owned by Pattachervanda Cariappa passed through several people before T John (respondent 5 in the matter) entered into a sale deed to stake a claim to the land in question on October 7, 1996.

The respondent entered into the sale deed with the relatives of Emmanuel Ramapuram, the earlier lease holder, who had tried to get the ownership of the land by filing a suit in the local court. The local court and high court had rejected the prayers.

The petitioners had contended that even the Supreme Court had laid down that lease-holders of Jamma land have only the right to cultivate (cardamom), but no right over the land and trees. “Through the sale deed, the respondent 5 (T John) had rights only like Jama Bandi, not the proprietorship,” the petition said.

They had sought the high court’s directions to the State Government to take back possesson of the land from John and his family members, contending that the sale deeded  in favour of John should be declared illegal, null and void.

Despite the illegal sale deed, Forest Department officials had not initiated any action.

Therefore, the petitioners sought action against the authorities. They wanted the land be declared  forest land.

On November 15, 2005, the Bench headed by former Chief Justice N K Sodhi had directed the chief secretary to look into the aspects of encroachment and submit a report on the extent of Jamma land remaining with the government and the land possessed by others.
The court had also sought information about how many permits to fell trees had been issued.

The then chief secretary, after inspecting the region, filed a report in 2006 stating that in 1900 the extent of Jamma land was 13,776.80 acres.

It was given to the local people by the British government for cultivation of cardamom, of which 468.72 acres of Jamma land was given to  Cariappa from Cheleavara village in Napoklu.

The land was transferred to Emmanual Thomas. Later on, John had entered into an agreement with a son of Emmanual Thomas for purchase of the land. In 1996 the sale deed was executed in the name of John and members of his family. John claimed himself as absolute owner of the land.

The report also said no permission for felling was granted. Based on this report the then DC, Kodagu, reversed the mutation in the name of forest department. John and others challenged the matter before the high court in a separate writ petition, which was allowed by the single judge.

When the matter was brought to the notice of the division bench on Tuesday, it refused to buy the argument.

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