Sri Adichunchangiri Maha Samsthana Mutt v. The State of Karnataka and Others WA No. 769/2022  c/w  WA No. 745/2022

Posted On - 9 February, 2024 • By - King Stubb & Kasiva

The hon’ble High Court of Karnataka in its recent Judgment dated 18th January 2024 elaborated on Rule 27 of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969 and held that the State Government cannot exercise power conferred under the said rule according to its whims and fancies and a reasonable approach shall be followed when relaxing the grant rules. Rule 27 of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969 reads as follows:

Rule 27: Powers of the State Government

Notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding rules, the State Government may, suo motu, or on the recommendation of the Divisional Commissioner or the Deputy Commissioner, if it is of the opinion that in the circumstances of any case or classes of cases, it is just and reasonable to relax any of the provisions of these rules, it may, by order direct such relaxation, recording the reasons for such relaxation, subject to such conditions as may be specified in the orders and thereupon lands may be granted in such a case or classes of cases in accordance with such direction.”

The Division Bench presided by Hon’ble Mr. Justice Prasanna B. Varale and Hon’ble Mr. Justice Krishna S Dixit held that where a grant is being made in respect of a land where there are similarly circumstanced entities, an opportunity of hearing should be given to such entities prior to giving preferential treatment. The State Government cannot unilaterally give preferential treatment to an entity.

The Division Bench reflecting on Rule 27 of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969 held that Rule 27 only confers power on the State Government to relax the Rules that would govern the grant of the lands. The power to grant lands under Rule 27 would still vest with Revenue Officials as enumerated in Rule 7 of the Grant Rules of 1969. The State Government by itself cannot make Order for Grant of land under Rule 27. Power to relax rules and Power to grant the land are two different rigors and cannot be equated as one and the same.

Any order made by the Revenue Officials for grant of land under Rule 27 should be mandatorily preceded by a prima facie opinion of the State Government that it is just and reasonable to relax any of the provision of the Karnataka Land Grant Rules, 1969.

The Judgment finds its prominence in the light of State Government exercising its power to relax ultra vires and granting the land under Rule 27 thereby giving preferential treatment to the favourable persons.