Thursday, August 24, 2000,
Chandigarh, India



PM’s speech sans foreign policy

THE much-awaited speech of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, which he delivered on August 15, has raised many questions on the policy of the NDA government. It was for the first time in the history of Red Fort declarations that India’s foreign policy was missing completely from the 25-minute written speech.

There was no mention regarding India’s old and established policy for complete nuclear disarmament nor was there any mention of the country’s contribution towards peace. The distinguished soldiers serving under the command of the United Nations to maintain peace in Sierra Leone and elsewhere could not find any space in the pages of the Prime Minister’s speech. Improvement of India’s relations with SAARC countries and fresh initiatives towards Arabs did not find any mention.

The critics and the watchdogs were surprised that the latest visit of the US President, its effects on Indo-American relations and the proposed visit of the Indian Prime Minister to the USA were completely blacked out by the authors of the speech.

There was no mention of the unipolar system that controls the fate of the world. It was the natural corollary of the latest developments in Indo-US relations. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister failed to provide even lip-service to the doctrine of nonalignment to which India has been wedded for decades. It was not only shocking but disgusting also that the Prime Minister of the founding member-country of NAM failed to appreciate the importance of Non-Aligned Movement in the present world scenario.


The Prime Minister also missed to mention the growing need to promote and strengthen the socio-cultural and politico-economic ties with India’s neighbouring countries, particularly those situated in West Asia, including Iran, Iraq, Palestine, Syria and the Gulf nations. The Prime Minister, in fact, did not throw any light on India’s international contributions and commitment towards peace, mutual co-existence and progress.

Though he condemned terrorism sponsored by Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir, his speech did not carry a mention of India’s policy on world terrorism.

Mr Vajpayee had always disagreed on the continuation of economic embargo against Iraq even when he was the Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. His silence on the barbaric sanctions and continued bombing against the civilian population of Iraq by the USA-UK combine has caused serious anxiety among intellectuals and thinkers in India on the limping policy of India towards our trusted friends in the Arab world.

President, J&K National Panthers Party
New Delhi

Lawyers’ grievance & the truth

These days lawyers in certain parts of Himachal Pradesh are agitating against the amendments made in the H.P. Land Revenue (Amendment) Act, 2000, passed by the H.P. Vidhan Sabha in its last session. Their main objection is against the creation of revenue courts under Sections 37 (3) and 46 of the principal Act as matters were previously triable by the civil courts. Their main grievance is that the revenue officers do not have adequate expertise to try suits in revenue courts.

This apprehension is totally ill-conceived as under the principal Act it is already laid down under Section 171 that matters mentioned in it are outside the jurisdiction of the civil courts, and all those matters the list of which is quite long are already exclusively triable only by revenue officers or revenue courts.

The concept of revenue court is not new. Even under the unamended Act, revenue officers were already functioning as revenue courts as well as civil courts as provided under Sections 129 and 163. Under Section 129, where the question of the title was involved, the revenue officer could convert himself into a revenue court or even a civil court to decide the question of the title involved. Similarly, the revenue officers were required to decide the question of title or of adverse possession under Section 163. Their judgement under these sections when they acted as revenue courts were appealable to the higher revenue courts, and if they acted as a civil court then the judgements were appealable before the civil courts. This system has not been amended.

Even under Section 77 of the Punjab Tenancy Act, 1887, the concept of revenue courts had been there since 1887, and a similar provision was adopted as per Section 58 of the H.P. Tenancy and Land Reforms Act, 1972. The revenue officers had been acting as revenue courts under these two sections right from 1887 satisfactorily.

The already existing concept of revenue court has only been enlarged under the H.P. Land Revenue Act Section 37 (3) and 46. The orders of revenue officers under Section 37 (2) which were previously subject to a decree from the civil court have now been made subject to a decree from the revenue court of the Collector. Similarly, under Section 46, where it was previously provided that if a person felt aggrieved by the entry in the record-of-rights of which he in possession then he was required to file a civil suit under the Specific Relief Act. Both these sections deal with the correction of entries. The high-powered committee appointed by the state government had discussed this in detail and was of the view that when the revenue officers could act under Sections 129 and 163 as courts wherein the subject matters were more complicated regarding the question of title and adverse possession, they could easily and in a better way decide the questions regarding the correction of entries both under Sections 37 (3) and 46. The cases under both these sections are very rare. Moreover, inland record-based disputes the major litigation pertains to declaratory suits and the injunctions under the Specific Relief Act, which remains unaffected by the Amendment Act, 2000, and the jurisdiction of the civil court under this Act has not been barred under Section 171 like other matters. As far the disputes about the entries of record-of-rights are concerned, the revenue officers, with their special training and experience of revenue laws, are in a better position to understand the intricasies and to decide all such cases in a better way.

Thus, the concept of revenue court is not new but more than a century old, and it has just been enlarged to cover these two sections which are more of revenue nature. The difference between the civil court and the revenue court is that of the agency only and not of procedure, as the revenue court has also to follow the procedure laid down in the Civil Procedure Code and has to frame issues and write judgements and pass decrees.

H. S. ATWAL, IAS (retd)

Constitution & the aged

The letter by Mr R.K. Jain of Jagadhari, published on June 27, “Legal protection must for aged” and another letter by Mr Kundan Singh of Chandigarh on “Law must for aged”, published on July 12, highlight some of the key issues relating to the plight of the aged parents and their humiliation at the hands of their greedy and ungrateful sons in the evening of their life.

In the light of the views expressed by them, I appeal to the law-makers to enact such a law as may protect the interests of the aged persons and include a clause that in the absence of a registered will, their property will be confiscated by the government to be used for running old age homes.

I would rather appeal to the Constitution Review Commission to specifically propose suitable provisions to be inserted in the Constitution of India.



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