SC upholds DCs' powers on 'Kumki' land

SC upholds DCs' powers on 'Kumki' land

 The Supreme Court has upheld a 13-year-old Karnataka HC judgment, allowing deputy commissioner to withdraw the privileges of ‘Kumki’ land enjoyed by agriculturalists in several parts of the state including coastal, Malnad, Kodagu and Mysuru region.

A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice T S Thakur on January 4 dismissed a petition challenging the HC order, saying, “We see no reason to take a different view.”

Agriculturalists in different parts of Karnataka were allowed to enjoy adjacent land known as Kumki for the purposes of collecting firewood, cattle-grazing, preparation of compost etc. However, when the State government, by an executive direction decided to withdraw the privileges, a batch of petitions were filed in the HC. It was contended that the deputy commissioner, in exercise of his delegated power under Section 79(2) of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1961, could not withdraw the privileges in respect of ‘Kumki’ rights exercised by any person.

Taking a contrary view, the High Court had in its 2003 judgement held that the power to pass orders regarding ‘Kumki’ privileges has been delegated to the deputy commissioner by the State government in exercise of power under Section 195(1) of the 1961 Act.

“We are of the clear view that the order of the deputy commissioner is not an executive order, but a statutory order having force of law,” the High Court had said.

The High Court also considered the legal position stating that Articles 19(1)(f) and 31 of the Constitution conferring fundamental right to acquire and hold property had been deleted by 44th Amendment to the Constitution with effect from June 20, 1979.

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