BDA questions panel's authority to probe into Arkavathi land reports

Files interim report for deletion of a term of reference given to Justice Kempanna Commission

BDA questions panel's authority to probe into Arkavathi land reports

The Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) on Thursday filed an interim petition before the Justice H S Kempanna Commission, which is  inquiring into the complaints of illegal denotification of land in Arkavathi Layout, seeking to delete one of the terms of reference given for the commission.

On the first day of hearing by the commission, BDA advocate Sunil moved the petition questioning its authority to look into the legal status of the Special Land Acquisition Officer (SLAO) reports, based on which land was deleted from the re-modified scheme for the layout in 2014.

According to the terms of reference set by the State government, the commission will probe whether land notified for the layout was denotified in violation of various orders of the Karnataka High Court and the Supreme Court. The commission will also inquire whether the quasi-judicial orders passed by four SLAOs in June 2010 and various resolutions passed by the BDA between April 2006 and February 2013 — to exclude land from final notification after considering the objections raised by the landowners — are legal and valid.

Judicial review only
The counsel for the BDA contended that the SLAOs were appointed in 2010 following a High Court order and that the then Advocate General had opined that these officers were quasi-judicial authorities. Thus, their decisions could only be subjected to judicial review. He contended that as a quasi-judicial body, the commission cannot review judicial order of another quasi-judicial authority.

Reacting to the BDA’s contention, Justice Kempanna orally observed that deleting a term of reference set by the government was beyond the commission’s jurisdiction.
Subsequently, the BDA advocate pleaded that if the particular term of reference cannot be deleted, the commission should at least decide whether or not to review SLAO orders. Justice Kempanna adjourned the arguments until July 4, 2015.

The one-man commission has issued notices to all the 24 petitioners who have complained of irregularities in the re-modified scheme for Arkavathi Layout. All the petitions will be taken up for hearing in due course.

The State government in August 2014 appointed Justice Kempanna, a retired judge of the High Court, as chairman of the commission of inquiry into charges of illegal land denotification in Arkavathi Layout. The inquiry will cover the period from February 23, 2004 — the day when the BDA declared that 2,750 acres spread across 16 villages were required for the layout— to April 4, 2014, when the final notification for the remodified scheme was gazetted by the government.

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