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Friday, June 18, 2021

Justice for Revenue: Mamlatdars and Deputy Collectors! By Adv. Vinayak D. Porob





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Mamlatdar is an officer appointed by the Government of Goa and includes Joint Mamlatdars who are entrusted with very crucial powers while presiding over revenue courts dealing with matters pertaining to the Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964, the Goa, Daman and Diu Mundkars (Protection from Eviction) Act, 1975,the  Goa, Daman and Diu Mamlatdar’s Court Act etc. One of the most controversial and crucial power the Mamlatdar exercises is to carry mutation in the record of rights of form I and XIV or form III or form D as per section 96 of The Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968. L.L.B is an essential qualification required to be a Mamlatdar in the State of Goa who is in fact the executive magistrate of the Taluka. It is an irony that the Appellate authority of the Mamlatdar is the Deputy Collector who is a junior scale officer and for which post a degree in L.L.B is not a mandatory qualification. The quasi judicial functions exercised as a Revenue court by the Mamlatdar are of severe importance and relevance as the Tenancy rights and Mundkar rights are determined and decided by the Mamlatdar as even the Civil Courts have no jurisdiction to deal with matters pertaining to Tenancy or Mundkarial rights.

Determination of tenancy issue is so vital that if a person who is not a lawful tenant succeeds in his tenancy declaration, the repercussions would be severe as the landlord or the owner as a consequence will lose his entire land/ property under tenancy to the person seeking tenancy declaration, similarly if a lawful tenant fails to prove his tenancy then under such circumstances in spite of cultivating the entire property, the lawful tenant will be deprived of the land/property cultivated by him.

Tenancy and Mundkarial rights should be judiciously determined by considering the evidence adduced and the documents produced by the parties and therefore for determination of tenancy or mundkarial rights the Mamlatdar should possess absolute knowledge of the Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964 and the Goa, Daman and Diu Mundkars (Protection from Eviction) Act, 1975. Considering the nature of powers exercised by the Mamlatdar the competency of the Mamlatdars to discharge and perform his functions play a very important role as a wrong order of determination can ruin the life of the people/ parties fighting for their rights. In the present scenario it is very sad to note that the majority of the Mamlatdars appointed by the Government are incompetent to exercise quasi- judicial functions and some of them are even not in the position to record the roznama or the proceeding sheet in the prescribed manner. The proceeding sheet or the roznama is in crux a written record of the business conducted in the hearing of a case and if the same is not recorded properly the entire sequence of the business carried out on previous dates of hearings remain a quandary. Some of the Mamlatdars appointed are not in the position to converse in English or write a sentence in English grammatically correct and hence  one cannot expect such a Mamlatdar to pass orders in detail and grammatically correct. The orders passed by the Mamlatdars should be speaking orders after hearing all the parties to the proceeding and with reasoning as to why the proceeding has been decided in favour of a particular party. There are several Awal Karkun’s promoted as Mamlatdar’s in the State of Goa and most of the Awal Karkun’s promoted are so incompetent that their orders do not assail more than two lines. Most of the times, the Deputy Collector who in appeal decides the issues determined by the Mamlatdar are worst than the Mamlatdars as they do not possess a degree in L.L.B. or experience in legal practice.

It is always not the case that the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors are incompetent as many times through intermediaries such as the talathi’s and clerks attached to the Mamlatdars office, the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors are managed. Since the appointment of the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors are mostly through political influence, interference by politicians also consequentially adversely affect the orders passed by the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors. Politicians compel the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors dance to their tunes or else there is always a threat of transfer and or suspension on one pretext or the other. Since some years now a new trend has begun of agents who act as  intermediary and after accepting a lump sum manage the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors and succeed in obtaining desired orders in favour of the parties approaching and paying the agents. Corruption in the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors offices is embedded to such an extent that there are resident agents in the Mamlatdars and in the Deputy Collectors offices. Now agency is at a glore when it comes to Mutations and even the staff and the office of the Mamlatdar gives preference to the agents rather than the advocates who file Mutation applications on behalf of their clients.

Documents and files go missing from the office of the Mamlatdars and Deputy Collectors and mutation records of most of the files are missing as most of the mutations are done withought sufficient documents and by managing the Mamlatdars. The Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors are totally under the control of the Government and as such have become puppets in the hands of the Ministers and if the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors does not succumb to political pressure than irrespective of their competency as a reward for not agreeing to the illegitimate demands are rewarded with punishment postings which usually is a posting at a long distance from the residence of the said Mamlatdar or the Deputy Collector and or posting where no quasi-judicial powers are exercised.

Being an Advocate and having appeared in such revenue courts presided by the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors; I personally feel that it is high time now that the Government should seriously rethink on the recruitment and appointment policy of the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors. The system of common cadre for appointment of junior scale officers as Deputy Collectors appears to be not working due to lack of competency, legal knowledge and experience in legal practice of such junior scale officers who are posted as Deputy Collectors. The system of promoting Awal Karkun’s to the post of the Mamlatdars also has to be stopped and the minimum qualification should mandatorily be practice in the legal field as an Advocate for not less than 5 years so as to gain practical legal knowledge with respect to legal proceedings and courts. Similarly for appointment of junior scale officers who are posted as Deputy Collectors, L.L.B. degree along with legal practice as an Advocate for minimum 5-7 years should be made compulsory or else a separate cadre should be established to appoint Deputy Collectors in the State of Goa. Before joining office, the appointed Mamlatdar’s and Deputy Collector’s should be provided training in some judicial academy in the country so as to gain knowledge and experience with respect to conducting and deciding cases.

The blame for the failures of the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors cannot be always down to or attributed to incompetency, corruption and inefficiency as work overload also affects the functioning of the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors. The administrative functions and powers overweigh the quasi judicial functions and duties of the Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors. The Mamlatdars and the Deputy Collectors are R.O’s and A.R.O’s for all elections and most of their time is diverted to election work such as framing of electoral roll/ voters list and other incidental matters with respect to elections as a consequence of which delay is caused in disposal of cases pending before them for adjudication. To avoid delay in disposal of cases and in dispensation of justice, the Government should appoint separate Mamlatdars and Deputy Collectors to discharge administrative functions and separate Mamlatdars and Deputy Collectors to discharge quasi judicial functions or else the number of cases pending will only increase in the State of Goa.

This is the personal opinion of the writer who is a practicing Advocate at Mapusa-Goa. {1,386 words}

 

 

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