Law Kumar Mishra
Executive Editor

Patna: One of the much publicised actions of Bihar CM Nitish Kumar was intrroduction of the Bihar land Disputes(Resolution) Act passed by Bihar legislature in 2010. It was introduced according to the objects of the Bill”in larger public interest, it is deemed necessary to provide for effective and speedy mechanism to resolve land disputes which give rise to major turbulence,if not addressed immediately and effectively.”
The Act provided for speedy disposal of land disputes (90 days) in courts of deputy collector land reforms(DCLR) and divisional commissioner(appealate authority) in 60 days. The apex body is Bihar Land Disputs resolution tribunal headed by a retired High Court Judge.
The Act was declared unconstitutional and ultra vires by Patna High Court in 2013-2014 in over a dozen cases. In one of the cases, the court observed the wide powers conferred on the competent authority (DCLR) and Divisional Commissioner) are arbitrary. In another judgement in a different case, the High Court said the commissioners and DCLRs were passing orders under the Act without jurisdiction. In an order on May 7,Patna commissioner dispossed off a long standing case(filed in 2013) that he was disposing off the appeal “without examination of merits of the case”.
There are over 10,000 land dispute cases pending disposal in the courts of the DCLRs, Commissioners and tribunal since the Act was introduced. The competent authorities holding the courts are not informing the litigants about futility of the appeals or filing of cases under the Act which is now utra vires. Poor litigants coming to the divisional offices from different districts are being harassed as only dates are being given and hardly any hearing taking place. There is no disseminatuon of information that the Act has become toothless now.
According to goevrnment officials here, the state plunged into Lok Sabha elections in 2014 and last year there was assembly election hence no decision could be taken up at the ministerial level to file appeals against the judgements or introduce an amendment in the Act nor an Ordinance was issued to make the very purpose of speedy and effective disposal of land dispute taking practical shape. The High Court had passed orders in 2013-14 declaring the provisions of the act ultra vires,but it took three years to act on the court observations by the appealate authority at Patna.

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