Rashid Paul

CG duty-bound to see evacuee property is leased out in transparent manner, and fetches maximum revenue: HC

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Srinagar: The Custodian General (CG) is under statutory duty to preserve and maintain the property on behalf of the evacuees, the High Court has said.

The property vested in the Custodian General is an evacuee property, Justice Sanjeev Kumar said.  “A statutory duty is enjoined on him (CG) to administer the evacuee property in a manner that furthers the object of (erstwhile) State Evacuee (Administration of Property) Act,” he said.

Justice Kumar was hearing a petition that agitated an order by CG which asked a petitioner (who had got leased land through transfer), to pay a sum of Rs 1.28 crore in three installments within 12 months to the government. The lease expired after 17 years out of 40 years at the beginning.

Three acres of land at Suthoo, Chadoora Badgam, was leased out by the Evacuee Department in favour of a lessee for a period of 40 years for industrial purposes. The lease agreement was accordingly executed on 13-03-1998, laying down the terms and conditions of the lease.

The lessee showed his reluctance to pay the premium on the ground that the lease in his favour was granted prior to issuance of SRO 149 in 1985 and was not liable to pay the premium.

With a view to avoid paying the premium, he transferred the land in favor of another person after giving him authority for dealing with the Department of Evacuee Property on matters connected with the land.

The CG transferred the leasehold rights in respect of the subject land in favour of the petitioner subject to various terms primarily the premium of Rs 1.28 crore.

The new lessee (petitioner) accepted the CG’s conditions but later wished not to pay the premium.

He said that Rs 1.28 crore for the land leased out for only 12 years, is too exorbitant and per se arbitrary besides being contrary to the Act and rules framed thereunder.

“The object of the Act is to preserve and maintain the property on behalf of the evacuees with a view to raise revenue for preservation and maintenance to put the property to the best possible beneficial use,” said the court.

It also said that even in the absence of any specific provision, the CG is well within its powers to devise ways and means to see that the evacuee property is allotted or leased out in a manner that is fair and transparent and fetches maximum revenue.

The CG, the court said, is enjoined to deal with the property of evacuees as a Trustee and it is his solemn duty to see that the property of evacuees is put to best use.

It added that CG is bound to be fair and transparent in dealing with the property of evacuees.

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