Govt nod must for transfer of SC/ST lands: SC

Govt nod must for transfer of SC/ST lands: SC

Supreme Court

In an important decision, the Supreme Court has declared that land alloted to nomadic tribes or members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Karnataka cannot be transferred or sold without prior permission from the government.

“There is, in fact, a prohibition in grant of such permission until and unless there is satisfaction of the deputy commissioner,” a bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Indira Banerjee said.

The court said the prior permission was required to ensure that alienation was for the purpose of acquiring some other land, or for improving the remaining land. It was also to ensure that the grantee credited to government an amount equal to 50% of the market value of such land as on the date of sanction of such alienation.

The court looked into provisions of the Karnataka Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Transfer of Certain Lands) Act, 1978, the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969 and the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964 to hold that the satisfaction of the deputy commissioner was necessary to ensure that members of the SC/ST community were not taken for a ride.

It said due to ignorance and poverty of the SC/STs, some influential and powerful people exploited the situation making the oppressed people, who were granted land for agricultural purposes, as victims of the circumstances.

The bench said whether it was a case where the transfer of land was within the window of five to 15 years as mandated under the law or the period beyond 15 years, such permission from the government would be required.

The top court explained the legal position while upholding the Karnataka High Court’s judgements that dismissed the writ petition in 2008 and writ appeal in 2009 filed by Satyan.

Senior advocate Dushyant Dave, appearing for Satyan, challenged the validity of HC as well as assistant commissioner and deputy commissioner’s orders, directing for restoration of land to the original allottees.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi and Sanjay M Nuli, appearing for the original allottees, contended that one of the primary statutory conditions required to be met in order for lands belonging to SC/STs to be transferred was to obtain prior permission from the state government that was not satisfied here.

They submitted here that the general power of attorney holder was A K Sapna, wife of Satyan. The total sale consideration was mentioned as Rs 4.5 lakh, which was paid by cash to the GPA holder, where the fact of the matter remains that not a single penny has reached the grantee of land at Ramanagar.