The coming days will see the State government taking a decision on who will preside over the revenue tribunals to be constituted to settle over 16,000 land dispute cases which were unresolved till the Assembly passed the Telangana Rights in Land and Pattadar Pass Books Act, 2020, recently.
In the latest Act, the government did not make a provision for appellate authority over mutations done by the Tehsildar. All appeals arising out of land disputes hereafter have to necessarily go to civil court. Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao defended the decision on the floor of the House asking where was the need for an appellate authority when a five-tier judicial system from junior civil judge to Supreme Court already existed in the country. He expressed the intention of the government to remove the discretionary powers of the appellate authority after the orders under the Act were passed by the Tehsildars. Nevertheless, the government has contemplated revenue tribunals.
There were 16,137 cases of land disputes in the State, including 12,000 solely related to Record of Rights (RoR), until the pattadar passbooks legislation was passed in the Assembly. The objections of aggrieved farmers on mutations till now were referred to Revenue Divisional Officer as the first appellant authority and Joint Collector as second appellant authority. But, the latest Act has removed both authorities and left the farmers the option to approach civil courts.
A senior law officer told The Hindu that the rules under the Act were being framed which will address the issue of constituting revenue tribunals to be headed by either retired IAS or judicial officers to go into the 16,137 pending cases. Apart from 12,000 cases of RoR issues, the pendency was also related to disputes over Inam, tenancy and land encroachments.
In the absence of appellate authority, a retired Revenue Secretary T. Gopal Rao argued that it will be unfair to expect farmers to approach civil courts at considerable expenditure. If the decisions of Tehsildars were to be final and there was no way their mistakes were redressed other than approaching courts, the small farmers will end up paying huge fee to fight cases.