Quashing a notice issued by the Gorakhpur district administration invoking Goondas Act against a person in April 2019, the Allahabad High Court imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the then District Magistrate K Vijayendra Pandian and directed the Uttar Pradesh government to initiate an inquiry against the 2008-batch IAS officer.
Pandian is currently Commissioner of Treasuries & Accounts in the Tamil Nadu Government.
The Bench of Justice Suneet Kumar and Justice Syed Waiz Mian was hearing a petition filed by Kailash Jaiswal who alleged that he was being coerced by the district administration into vacating a property owned by him.
“We are convinced that the proceedings initiated against the petitioner (Jaiswal) is not only malicious but to harass him in respect of the property in dispute which admittedly vests with the petitioner lawfully,” said the Bench in an order passed on November 14.
“The conduct of the respondent, in particular, the second respondent, District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, clearly demonstrates that he has no respect for the rule and law and has become a law unto himself… (He) has now resorted to invoke U.P. Goondas Act against the petitioner misusing the forum of criminal administration,” the court said. “…a cost assessed at Rs 5 lakh is imposed upon… District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, to be deposited with the High Court Legal Services Committee within 10 weeks from date,” said the court.
It also directed the government to “initiate disciplinary enquiry against the then delinquent District Magistrate, Gorakhpur.”
As per the order, the petition was regarding a bungalow built on 30,000 sqfeet land on Gorakhpur’s Park Road that was acquired by Jaiswal in September 1999 through a freehold deed from then Gorakhpur DM.
At the time of execution of the freehold deed, the Sales Tax Department, which is now the Trade Tax Department, was occupying the premises on rent.
The petitioner said that Trade Tax Department defaulted on rent, and he instituted an SCC suit seeking ejectment, as well as, recovery of arrears of rent.
The UP government and the Trade Tax Department challenged the ejectment order, which was later dismissed. In 2010, the possession of the premises was handed over to the petitioner after which he was in “peaceful possession” of the property.
The Tax Advocate Association filed an objection to the ejectment order before the trial court which came to be rejected. The appeals were subsequently rejected by the High Court and the Supreme Court. “…Thereafter the petitioner started making construction on the property which was being objected by the District authorities,” read the court order.
The court order said that “it appears that the District administration was not satisfied that the petitioner” had obtained the property in dispute which is on “prime location”. The DM then instituted a suit for cancellation of the freehold deed of 1999. While the suit was pending, an FIR was lodged against Jaiswal. Jaiswal said on April 10, 2019, around 20 policemen came to his house and “threatened to kill him in a fake encounter”. The next day, a notice under the Goondas Act was issued to Jaiswal.