The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has laid down guidelines for the authorities to follow while conducting property surveys. It also wanted government officials held accountable for failure in their duty while conducting these surveys.
Justice S. Vaidyanathan observed, “We are now in the era of global digitalisation and by use of advanced technology/machinery, the survey could be easily done so as to bring the issue to a logical conclusion to the satisfaction of both parties.”
The court said a survey or resurvey should be conducted within 30 days of receipt of charges, and the entire process should be photographed and videographed. In case of failure on the part of an official to conduct a survey, the cost of application should be returned to the parties, a sum of ₹2,500 should be recovered from the salary of the official and departmental proceedings should be initiated against him/her.
A register should be maintained with details such as the name of the person who has gone for the survey, the area of survey, the date of survey, the completion of survey, and the reason for not surveying the property. The facts should be verified by a superior officer.
The judge said the details should be made available to the parties concerned or any person under the Right to Information Act. A constant vigil of officials of the Revenue Department was necessary to regulate revenue-related works, he said.
The district administration should use drone technology to conduct an accurate survey of properties, which would help to bring out encroachments on government land, the court said. Pendency of litigation would not bar the authorities from conducting a survey or resurvey in the absence of any stay or an interim order or an interim injunction, the judge said.
The judge said it was unfortunate that officials were demanding bribes even for doing their duties, and directed the State to issue a circular within a month, incorporating these guidelines.
The court was hearing a petition filed by Asaithambi of Madurai. Taking into account the delay in the conduct of a survey of the property involved, the court passed the guidelines.