Mutt to lose 31 acres it bought from 'Bagair Hukum' labourers

Mutt to lose 31 acres it bought from 'Bagair Hukum' labourers

Adichunchanagiri Mutt is set to lose 31 acres of land in Gangasandra village on Mysuru Road as the district authorities have ruled that the land was originally allotted to 11 people under the ‘Bagair Hukum’ scheme meant for landless labourers.

The original allottees went on to sell the land to Balagangadharanatha Swami, the former head of the mutt, in less than 15 years of holding it. The grant rules forbid early sale of the land. There are also other conditions. For instance, the land should be jointly in the name of husband and wife and the grantee should neither alienate the land nor use it for non-agricultural purpose for 15 years (25 years now) from the date of issue of ‘Saguvali chit’ or certificate of grant to the beneficiary.

The grantee should cultivate the land personally and plant at least four trees per acre. They should be residents of the area and none of their blood relatives should have land anywhere in Karnataka. They should also fall under the below poverty line. The violation of any condition will result in cancellation of the grant and the government will reclaim it.

The land in survey numbers 34 and 36 of Kengeri hobli, Bengaluru South taluk, was granted to 11 people, including two men named Shekhar and Shekharappa, on July 6, 1999. The land was granted by Uttarahalli MLA R Ashoka as he was chairperson of the Bagair Hukum land allotment committee and tahsildar the member secretary. Gangasandra was a part of the then Uttarahalli Assembly constituency. Local MLAs head Bagair Hukum committees.

The allottees sold the land to the swami. The controversy about the land grant surfaced in 2011 when the Bangalore Metropolitan Task Force started looking into its misuse and traced large-scale irregularities in Bengaluru South taluk. In June 2014, the BMTF received a complaint about the allotment of land to the mutt and directed the district authorities to submit the details.

The original allottees also applied for regularisation of the land. The district authorities recently discovered that the mutt was in “illegal possession” of 31 acres of land. On April 16 this year, the Bengaluru South tahsildar sought cancellation of the grant, stating that the land was just 13.2 km from the boundary of the erstwhile Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) whereas the allotment rules warrant it to be at least 18 km away. He furnished Google map, showing the distance of the land from the municipal boundary.

Assistant Commissioner of Bengaluru South subdivision, L C Nagaraj, cancelled the grant on May 6, 2016, stating the Land Allotment Committee committed a grave error in considering the application for regularisation. He noted the mutt possessed the land and even built a compound around it.

“It is clear without ambiguity that the granted lands are neither in possession and occupation of the grantees....” Nagaraj said in the order. “The decision of the committee is hereby set aside as per the powers vested under section 108K of the land grant rules. Further the land in question is resumed to the government free from all encumbrances... The tahsildar, Bengaluru South taluk, is hereby directed to take possession of the land in accordance with law by evicting the persons who are in unauthorised possession.” Attempts to reach the mutt management for comment went in vain.

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