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Disturbed Areas Act: HC stays proceedings against 72-yr-old man

The court of Justice Sangeeta Vishen, considering the preliminary submissions, issued rule, returnable on January 17, 2022, and also observed that the order of the deputy collector “appears to be without jurisdiction”.

The NIA also sought a similar timeline in another bail plea by an accused in judicial custody for more than three years facing charges of conspiracy and fake note printing.

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday admitted a petition by a Vejalpur resident charged under offences of the Gujarat Prohibition of Transfer of Immovable Property and Provision for Protection of Tenants from Eviction from Premises in Disturbed Areas Act, 1991, otherwise known as Disturbed Areas Act, and stayed proceedings against the petitioner.

According to the petitioner, Ahmed Patel, 72, he is in legal possession of a land parcel since 1987, after the original owner Harish Ambalal Seth transferred it to two others in 1984 by registered agreement to sale, who in turn in 1987 “transferred, conveyed and assigned their rights by registered agreement to sale” to Ahmed and four others.

In 2006, after Harish passed away, his son, Pranav Seth was mutated in the revenue records by inheritance. Pranav raised objection to Ahmed’s possession of the land and initiated proceedings under the Disturbed Areas Act in 2018. Under the Act, the deputy collector through an order in October 2019, held the possession by Ahmed to be null and void. It held that the possession of the land would be restored and criminal prosecution initiated against Ahmed. The order was appealed against before the Special Secretary (Appeals) Department Of Revenue (SSRD), which rejected it in November 2020.

Ahmed submitted a petition before the Gujarat HC in 2020, challenging the proceedings initiated by Pranav, submitting that the Disturbed Areas Act came into effect in 1991 while the land transfer took place in 1987. It was also submitted that in 1991, the Act was not applicable to the plot of disputed land as the area was not declared as a “disturbed area” and further amendments to the Act, under which proceedings against Ahmed were initiated, were introduced in 2010.

The court of Justice Sangeeta Vishen, considering the preliminary submissions, issued rule, returnable on January 17, 2022, and also observed that the order of the deputy collector “appears to be without jurisdiction”.

The court also made a prima facie opinion that the orders — both of the deputy collector and the SSRD of October 2019 and November 2020 respectively — were without jurisdiction and “require to be stayed at this stage”.

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