It directs govt. to set up more special courts
The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday upheld the constitutional validity of the Karnataka Land Grabbing Prohibition Act, 2011 and directed the State government to set up special courts, preferably in every district, as only one special court exists in Bengaluru for the entire State.
Also, the court held that the special court would have to mainly adopt procedure for trial of warrant cases as prescribed in the Code of Criminal Procedure and would have to record in writing the reasons in case of adopting procedure prescribed to conduct trial in summary manner.
However, the Bench struck a provision in Section 9(4) of the Act, which read as “additional evidence, if any adduced in the civil proceedings shall not be considered by the special court while determining the criminal liability” while terming it as unconstitutional.
A Division Bench comprising Justice Aravind Kumar and Justice B.A. Patil delivered the verdict while disposing of more than 250 petitions, filed by Shriram Properties Pvt. Ltd., Uma Balagavi, and several others since 2017. The petitioners had challenged the constitutional validity of the Act, which came into force in 2014, and the proceedings initiated before the special court.
Noticing that around 7,800 cases of land-grabbing were registered before the special court since the Act came into force, and that around 4,400 of these cases were still pending for adjudication, the Bench said that the government had to set up special courts preferably in all the districts depending upon the necessity and feasibility.
Small and poor farmers staying in remote places in many districts might be facing charges of land-grabbing for tilling government land adjacent to their land and such persons would face severe hardship besides losing their earnings if they have to come to Bengaluru to attend court proceedings, the Bench observed while directing the government to set up more special courts in different districts as the amendment made to the Act in 2020 had a provision to set up more special courts.
Meanwhile, the Bench set aside the proceedings against some of the petitioners, and in some cases it directed the special court not to take coercive action against the petitioners till it decides their pleas in term of Tuesday’s order.
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