CMs can't meddle with rules, says SC

CMs can't meddle with rules, says SC

Chief ministers or ministers have no “business” or power to overrule a statutory rule and give relief to individuals, the Supreme Court has held.

In other words, if there is a statutory provision in force, it  has to be complied with by  chief ministers and officials alike and they cannot pass orders in contravention of the rule, the apex court said.

“The chief minister has no business to interfere and overrule a statutory provision. How can he make such notes in the file and direct allotments of the lands,” a bench of Justice B N Agrawal and G S Singhvi said, dismissing an appeal filed by certain land holders in Karnataka.

The appeals were filed by Parvathamma and some of the 43 claimants to sites in survey no 18 of the Maranhall village of Bangalore South who challenged the cancellation of the allotments purportedly made to them on December 22, 1979.

Allotment letters

In pursuant to a October 11, 1979, policy decision of the Karnataka government, the Block Development Officer (BDO)  had issued allotment letters to 79 homeless and landless beneficiaries in the village adjoining Bangalore city.

However, there were allegations that some of the claimants had obtained the allotments fraudulently as the BDO had signed the allotment letters on December 22, 1979, whereas the government letter authorising the BDO to sign the same was issued only on December, 28, 1979.

In the meantime, some public spirited persons approached the Karnataka High Court challenging the allotments as the allotted land in question, according to the petitioners, was meant for a park.

The Karnataka government submitted before the court that the allotment made in favour of Parvathamma and 42 others were illegal as the BDO had issued the allotments six days prior to the actual authorisation given to him.

On April 27, 2002, the high court had held the allotment illegal and directed the Special Deputy Commissioner (Revenue) of Bangalore to evict the unauthorised occupants.

Humanitarian angle

However, the then Chief Minister Dharam Singh had in 2005 made a file note taking the stand that since the allotees had been in possession of the land for over 25 years, it was necessary to view the case from a “humanatarian angle.”

“Eviction of the allotees from their dwelling units will render them homeless, contrary to the government policy to provide shelter to all,” the then chief minister wrote in his file while staying their eviction.

The chief minister’s decision was set aside by a single judge of the Karnataka High Court and a division bench subsequently confirmed the judgment, after which Parvathamma and other allottees filed an appeal in the apex court.

The apex court, while confirming the decisions of the high court, dismissed the appeal with the observation that the chief minister had no business to interfere with the statutory rules.

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