The Karnataka High Court while allowing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) quashed a lease agreement executed by the Executive Officer, Taluk Panchayat, Srinivasapura, Kolar District, in favour of Srinivaspura Sports and Cultural Association.
The PIL has been filed by social workers who are residents of Srinivasapura Taluk, Kolar District.
The petitioners claim the property situated at Kollur New Extension, Srinivasapura Town, Srinivasapura Taluk, Kolar District, measuring 306 x 148 feet belongs to the Horticulture Department of Government of Karnataka. However, on 23.03.2015, the Executive Officer, Taluk Panchayat executed a registered lease in favour of the Association for 29 years on a monthly rent of Rs 5,000.
The petitioners thereupon submitted a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Kolar and to the Principal Secretary, Horticulture Department of Government of Karnataka. However, the aforesaid representations failed to evoke any response. In the aforesaid factual background, the petition has been filed seeking a writ of certiorari for quashing of lease agreement dated 23.03.2015 executed in favour of the Association.
The Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Alok Aradhe and Justice S. Vishwajith Shetty have heard the counsels for the parties at length and observed that it is a salutary principle of law that a public property needs to be dealt with in the manner prescribed in law. Section 216(1) of the Karnataka Gram Swaraj and Panchayat Raj Act, 1993 deals with vesting of property in Taluk Panchayat and reads as under:
‘216. Vesting of property in Taluk Panchayat.-
(1) It shall be competent for the Government or a Zilla Panchayat with the concurrence of the Taluk Panchayat from time to time to direct that any property vesting in the Government or the Zilla Panchayat , as the case may be, shall vest in the Taluk Panchayat:
Provided that no lease, sale or transfer of any such immovable property by the Taluk Panchayat shall be valid without the previous sanction of the Government or the Zilla Panchayat, as the case may be.’
Thus, it is axiomatic that lease, sale or transfer of any immovable property by Taluk Panchayat is invalid without previous sanction of the Government or the Zilla Panchayat, the Bench held.
In the instant case, the previous permission of neither Zilla Panchayat nor the State Government has been obtained prior to execution of the lease deed dated 23.03.2015. The lease deed has been executed in violation of the mandate contained in Section 216(1) of the Act. The lease deed dated 23.03.2015 is therefore quashed by the High Court. However, liberty is reserved to Taluk Panchayat, Srinivasapura, to deal with the property in accordance with law.