The Allahabad High Court has directed the Uttar Pradesh government to decide within two months on the proposal forwarded by the Board of Revenue to create posts for revenue officers right from the Commissionery to the tehsil level so that revenue cases could be heard and disposed of expeditiously.
The court also directed the board to carry out inquiry and take appropriate administrative measures with respect to various allegations regarding the functioning of revenue court in Bijnor district.
The court will next hear the matter on February 26 when the state government is expected to file a status report.
A division bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Yashwant Varma passed the order on December 4, while hearing a PIL filed by one Yashpal Singh, a resident of Bijnor, through his counsel S P Singh Parmar.
The PIL, filed in September, alleged that the revenue courts in Bijnor had been plagued with strikes on flimsy reasons, lack of adequate number of presiding officers, alleged corruption and lack of expertise among the personnel to handle revenue cases. The HC had then sought personal appearance and an affidavit of the district president of the Revenue Court Bar Association, besides asking the chairman of the board to file a counter-affidavit in the matter.
In its affidavit, the board chairman submitted that a proposal has been sent to the state government for creating dedicated posts like tehsildar (judicial), sub-divisional officer (judicial), additional district magistrate (judicial) and additional commissioner (judicial) in order to get better and quality disposal of the revenue cases, which were increasing on account of increase in population, separation of joint families, increased land sales and other economic reasons. The proposal said that these officers should be drawn from the current pool of judicial officers. It was also pointed out that they should be exclusively dedicated to revenue cases, and should not attend to administrative functions. The affidavit also pointed out that there were at least 6.03 lakh pending cases across various district revenue courts and efforts were being made to dispose of at least 1.27 lakh cases every month.
Taking note of the proposal and the problems mentioned, the court said that “it would be necessary for the state government to act in the matter to ensure that a cadre of officers, exclusively to the resolution of revenue cases, is created along the lines as suggested by the Board of Revenue” and directed it to take a “decision within a period of two months”.
Further, the court directed the board chairman to carry out an inquiry into the allegations made with respect to the revenue court in Bijnor district. An independent report from the district judge (Bijnor), submitted earlier during the hearing of the PIL, had mentioned that strikes had been resorted to on the most flimsy grounds. However, the district revenue bar president, whose appearance has now been exempted, told the court that, now, a decision has been taken not to resort to strikes. He also pointed out that, with revenue officials being drawn from the executive, their availability was becoming a serious problems. For instance, it was pointed out that the officials concerned have been busy with panchayat elections in the last few months, as a result of which they have not attended to revenue cases.