‘IAS officers disobeying court orders should be imprisoned’

HC directs govt. to fix time limits for disposal of applications

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has directed the State government to issue a government order/circular to ensure that authorities follow the guidelines for disposal of applications under the Tamil Nadu Patta Passbook Act, 1983.

If the authority was an IAS officer and had disobeyed the orders of the court, then he or she should be punished with imprisonment. Imprisonment should be primary and imposition of fine under the Contempt of Courts Act would be secondary, the court said.

Hearing the petition filed by Mathavadiyan who sought a direction to the Revenue Divisional Officer, Tenkasi, to dispose of his application, Justice S. Vaidyanathan observed that of late several cases were filed before the court seeking directions to the authorities concerned to dispose of applications filed under the Patta Passbook Act.

If the applications were disposed of within the prescribed time by the authorities concerned, the parties need not approach the court. It was not known why an order of the court was required for the authorities to do their job, he observed.

If an application was filed under Section 10 of the Tamil Nadu Patta Passbook Act, 1983, for modification of entries in the patta, it should be decided within 120 days from the date of receipt of the application.

If an appeal was filed under Section 12 of the Act, the authority must ensure that it was disposed of within 90 days from the date of filing of appeal. Similarly, a revision application filed against the order of the appellate authority should be decided within 60 days.

The authorities, while deciding the issue under the provisions of the Patta Passbook Act, should afford an opportunity of hearing to the parties concerned and decide the matter in accordance with law. The time limit under the Act must be strictly adhered to, the court said.

If the authorities concerned failed to follow the provisions of the Act, they must face departmental proceedings, the court said, and directed the State government to issue a government order/circular fixing time limits for disposal of applications.

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