HC strikes down section of WB Land Reform Act
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Last Updated: Thursday, July 14, 2011, 21:36
Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Thursday struck down a section of the West Bengal Land Reforms and Tenancy Tribunal Act to do away with an anomaly in the constitution of members of the tribunal and suggested new norms on its formation.

A special bench comprising justices Bhaskar Bhattacharya, Tapan Dutta and Prasenjit Mondal declared section four of the Act ultra vires which constituted the selection of the executive member of the tribunal.

The tribunal consists of two members, of which one is judicial and the other executive, which is appointed by the state government.

According to the Act, in case of difference of opinion, a case was referred to a larger bench which would have another executive member apart from the two members, each from judicial cadre and the other from executive.

This meant that the number of executive members would be higher than that of the judiciary in the tribunal, which cannot happen as the cases heard by it were mainly against the government, petitioners Popat and Kotecha Properties submitted before the court.

The bench, while striking down such constitution of members of the tribunal, suggested new provisions of the appointment process.

It suggested that in future, selection of an executive member is to be done by the representative of the Chief Justice of the Calcutta High Court and a government representative.

In case of difference of opinion in this, the chief justice could have casting vote power, the special bench observed.

It also suggested that the executive member, who was till now of joint secretary rank, would from now on be of secretary or additional secretary rank.

These are all retired officers of the government who are appointed as members.

Till a new legislation is made to do away with the anomalies, the tribunal at its present form would not function, the court directed.

The tribunal essentially dealt with West Bengal Estate Acquisition Act, 1953, West Bengal Thika Tenancy Act and West Bengal Land Reforms Act, etc.

It, however, did not deal with the West Bengal Premises Tenancy Act and any provision of it would not be affected by this order.


First Published: Thursday, July 14, 2011, 21:36

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