IN THE absence of the Cabinet minister and minister of state for revenue department, the Bombay High Court has recently asked the state government to consider authorising senior secretaries to hear applications under the Maharashtra Land Revenue Code (MLRC).
The court was hearing three petitions filed in connection to revision applications and appeals under MLRC, which is dealt by the state government. “The appeals/ revision applications which are maintainable before the state government, especially the applications seeking interim relief, remains pending and are not heard for considerably long time, the parties or their advocates do not get an opportunity to mention their matters before the appellate/ revisional authority for grant of urgent interim reliefs and there is no date fixed for pronouncement of judgments,” the petitions stated.
The petitioners’ lawyer told the court that in urgent cases, and as the state government — the appellate/revisional authority — is not giving priority to the hearing of the interim applications, the applicants are forced to approach the writ court.
The Division Bench of Justice A S Oka and Justice M S Sonak said, “…it is the duty of the state to ensure that the appellant or applicant in appeal and/or revision application gets an opportunity to present his case…for grant of ad-interim relief immediately after filing of appeals/ revisions.”
The bench added that if the parties are not heard, “it will amount to denial of the access to justice”. “Therefore, it is necessary for the state to make available the said opportunity to the litigants. On many occasions, the honourable ministers exercising appellate/revisional powers are not available. The state will have to consider of authorising senior secretaries to hear the prayers for interim/ ad-interim reliefs in absence of hon’ble ministers,” it observed.
The government has placed on record an order dated July 7, 2016 — issued by the chief minister — stating that the appeals/revisions under the code, which are maintainable before it, are being heard by the Cabinet minister and MoS of the revenue department.
“If the judgments and orders are uploaded, the same become immediately available to the litigants. In the era of computers and Internet, this will be a very minimum and legitimate expectation of litigants. This is also an integral part of the access to justice,” the court said.