The High Court of Karnataka has directed the tenants of agricultural lands belonging to an ex-serviceman to deliver back the possession of the lands to him within eight weeks while observing that woes that the 79-year-old retired lieutenant colonel has undergone for decades to get the lands back perplexes the court, to say the least.
“If a soldier who has protected the frontiers of the country for years whilst in service were to be treated this way in the evening of his life, what other defence personnel in service would think of, is left to the wild imagination of society,” the court observed while noticing the spread of legal battle over 30 years.
Justice Krishna S. Dixit passed the order while dismissing petition filed by legal heirs of late Umar B. The petitioners had questioned the legality of the orders passed by the Bantwal taluk tahsildar in 2001 and the Assistant Commissioner, Mangaluru in 2012 resuming the tenanted lands to Lt. Col (retired) Diwana Gopala Krishna Bhat.
The court noted that the ex-serviceman’s legal battle had commenced a couple of years prior to his retirement from the defence services in 1993 after serving about 26 years in the armed force since 1967.
There were multiple rounds of litigations between the legal heirs of the original tenant and the ex-serviceman from past 32 years before the land tribunal, revenue authorities and the High Court after he initiated process under Section 15 (Resumption of land by soldier or seaman who has created or continued tenancy) of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act, 1961, in 1990 to get back the tenanted land, the court pointed out. He had got his share of the lands from his father in 1974 through partition and continued the earlier tenancy till he sought resumption.
The court rejected the contention of the petitioners that the ex-serviceman had no right to seek resumption of the tenanted lands as continuation of tenancy was not in writing after he got these lands to his share through partition.
While refraining from imposing exemplary cost on the petitioners, the court directed the revenue authorities to evict the petitioners from the land if they failed to deliver back the possession within the deadline.