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Report No. 114

6.5. Revenue Jurisdiction.-

A little while back, a question was posed that as topics of land and land revenue fall within Entry 18 of the State List, Parliament is incompetent to enact a legislation conferring revenue jurisdiction on the proposed Gram Nyayalaya. Apart from this constitutional conundrum, some participants voiced serious apprehensions about the complicated questions of law that may arise under the agrarian reforms laws, under revenue laws, under irrigation laws and like statutes, and voiced an apprehension about efficacy of Gram Nyayalaya to deal with them. It was also stated that a central legislation would tread upon the powers of the States and Centre State relations would be further strained.

An alleged ugly feature of the village life brought to the notice of the Commission by numerous speakers was about the role of village revenue officer variously described as Patwari, Lekhpal, Kulkarni, Talati and the like who maintain basic revenue records and who are alleged to have perverted the entire process of agrarian reforms by manipulating entries in Jamabandh and Khasra Girdwari records. The unending List of grievances in this behalf is horrendous. It was stated that Gram Nyayalaya would be wholly ill-equipped to deal with these officers and to repair the situation by removing their tyranny.

The Commission remains unimpressed by these apprehensions. A legislation under Entry 11A in the Concurrent List: "Administration of Justice, constitution and organisation of all courts, except the Supreme Court and the High Courts" would be an effective answer. The Commission proposes devising a new forum for resolution and adjudication of disputes arising under certain specified heads and emanating from rural areas. The Gram Nyayalaya would be a body for administration of justice and a legislation for the same would squarely fall under Entry II A. Once that aspect is disposed of, the Gram Nyayalaya, would be the most effective instrument to control and keep a vigilant supervision over the local revenue officials including the one which makes entries in revenue records.

At present, the disputed entry can be questioned before the Tehsildar, or Mamlatdar and the process is unending. If this very disputed entry is questioned before the Gram Nyayalaya, it can be effectively dealt with at the spot and in a summary manner and by participation of lay judges constituting the court presumably aware of the machinations and mischief that can be perpetrated in this behalf. It may be stated that there was near consensus amongst those who responded to the Working Paper and participated in workshops that the jurisdiction under revenue matters as indicated in para. 6.2 should be conferred on Gram Nyayalaya.

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