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People who bought Golden Forest plots in for litigation
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, April 14
All those who bought plots in Dehradun from Golden Forest India Limited and its sister concerns in the 1990s are in for litigation right from the level of the Revenue Board. This is the result of a Supreme Court judgment delivered this week, allowing an appeal by the Uttarakhand Government.

Golden Forest and its sister companies, the Indian Peace Foundation Trust, Mani Majra, Chandigarh, the Golden Agro Forest Limited and the Golden Forest Distributors Limited, had bought “bhumidhari” land in Dehradun from various tenure holders through one Sanjay Ghai.

The Assistant Collector issued an order on August 21, 1997, holding that the transactions were ultra vires of Section 154(1) of the Land Ceiling Act that stipulated the maximum holding at 12.5 acre. The company challenged the order before the Board of Revenue, Uttar Pradesh. The board passed an order on November 24, 2000, holding that the land purchased in the names of different companies could not be clubbed for deciding the issue relating to violation of the Land Ceiling Act.

The board had given the ruling despite the fact that only a few days ago Uttaranchal had come into being on November 9, 2000, under the State Reorganisation Act, Section 9 of which clearly stated that all pending proceedings in Uttar Pradesh stood transferred to the corresponding bodies in the newly created state.

The dispute then went to the Allahabad High Court, with both Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal challenging the UP Revenue Board ruling. Without dealing with the issue of jurisdiction, the high court upheld the Revenue Board ruling.

Uttaranchal then approached the apex court, raising the jurisdiction issue. Golden Forest pleaded against the apex court interfering with the high court order as the company had already divided the land into plots and allotted to various persons “who are not parties” in the SC, the HC or the Revenue Board.

An apex court Bench comprising Justices GS Singhvi and AK Ganguly delivered the judgment on April 11, setting aside the orders of the HC and the Revenue Board.

The SC ruled that the dispute pending before the UP Revenue Board “stood transferred to the Board of Revenue, State of Uttaranchal” which would decide the case afresh. “If there is no Board of Revenue in Uttarakhand then the record shall be transferred to the corresponding adjudicating authority.”

The apex court directed Golden Forest to provide the list of plot allottees along with their latest addresses to the Uttarakhand Revenue Board within four weeks. The allottees would then be impleaded as parties to the dispute. The board would pass an appropriate order after hearing all parties, the SC ruled. 





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