The Goa Bench of the Bombay Court on Wednesday morning admitted a petition filed against Ashwin Khalap, son of Goa Law Commission Ramakant Khalap for his alleged involvement in a land grab scam at Assagao and the order on the interim relief sought by the Petitioner will be pronounced in four weeks.
A Gaonkar of Assagao Communidade Nelson Fernandes had filed the petition before the High Court challenging the consent decree pronounced by the Civil Court whereby around 12,000 square meters of Assagao Communidade land was mutually divided between the Communidade and its purported tenants.
Some tenants of the Assagao Communidade filed a suit in the civil court claiming to be tenants of the Communidade land and the Communidade and the tenants filed consent terms whereby half of the land was to be given to the tenants and the other half retained by the Communidade.
However, this decree was challenged on grounds that tenancy issue cannot be decided by the civil courts as under the Land Revenue Code, the jurisdiction lies with the Mamlatdar who should have decided the mater.
Besides, the Supreme Court has ruled that a tenant cannot give a negative declaration before the civil court and also that the use of tenanted agricultural land cannot be changed and since both these orders of the Apex Court were being violated in the instant case, Nelson Fernandes approached the High Court.
As per Article 351 of the Code of Communidade, the concerned Communidade has to seek prior permission from the Administrative Tribunal before signing any consent terms, which was also not done in this particular case.
Interestingly, after the decree of the Civil Court, the Administrative Tribunal did give post-facto permission to the Communidade to sign the consent decree.
However, Advocate Rohit Bras de Sa, representing the Petitioner objected to this post facto permission arguing that it was not permitted in the law and also brought to the notice of the court that the Presiding Officer of the Administrative Tribunal is related to Ramakant Khalap and therefore had a vested interest in passing the order.
Ashwin Khalap comes into the picture by virtue of having purchased the land from Mahadev Sitaram Simepuruskar, one of the tenants and is now in the process of constructing seven luxury villas on the land.
Nelson Fernandes’ contention is that by virtue of being an Advocate, Ashwin Khalap ought to have known the law and seen the illegality in this deal and therefore abstained from being a party to it.
The Petition has sought interim relief seeking a direction that the tenants should not create a third party interest nor change the use of the land, and order on this will be pronounced in four weeks time.
However, what is significant is the fact that the High Court has admitted a petition against the son of the Law Commission, which is indeed quite ironical.