Court raps 2 senior officers for disbursing Rs 15cr illegally | Goa News

Panaji: The high court of Bombay at Goa has imposed costs of Rs 25,000 each on two officers who, as land acquisition officers (LAOs), disbursed a total of around Rs 15 crore to persons, who claimed they were tenants of an acquired property in Pernem, without the authority of law. The property was acquired to station a CISF batallion.
The court has directed the state government to take expeditious steps to recover the amounts from the parties.
The division bench comprising Justices Mahesh Sonak and RN Laddha found that the two officers had no power, authority or jurisdiction to tinker with the final award made by the previous land acquisition officer in 2015 but did so, almost four years after the order was made.
Some of the checks were distributed by the then tourism and sports minister and MLA of Pernem Manohar ‘Babu’ Ajgaonkar to the beneficiaries, one of the officers, Sudhir Kerkar, pointed out before the court.
“The established facts and circumstances in these petitions disclose how LAOs Ravishankar Nipanikar and Sudhir Kerkar, for reasons best known to themselves and in total disregard of the legal position and breach of principles of natural justice and fair play, proceeded to disburse an amount of over Rs 15 crore only by obtaining an indemnity bond from such beneficiaries. The LAOs are presently senior officers in the state administration holding responsible positions. The only assertion was that they acted in good faith,” the court stated.
After the transfer of NM Gad, who was the LAO, Nipanikar began functioning as LAO and in 2019 entertained applications and disbursed over Rs 5 crore to respondents who claimed they were tenants of the property, this while lacking authority to review or modify the final award dated October 29, 2015. They also did not issue any notice to the petition and other interested persons and did not comply with the principles of natural justice and fair play.
The court also stated that Kerkar, also lacked authority to tinker with the final award made by his predecessor and without notice to the parties, disbursed over Rs 9 crore.
“After the institution of these petitions, Nipanikar issued notices dated September 23, 2021, to the beneficiaries, calling upon them to redeposit the entire compensation amount of Rs 5.5 crore in the office of the LAO within 30 days, failing which the such amount would amount be recovered as arrears of land revenue. However, Kerkar, who disbursed over rupees nine crore, has not bothered to issue similar notices to the beneficiaries of the paid amounts,” the court stated.
The counsel representing Nipanikar stated that there was nothing wrong with his action and submitted that the petition had never objected to the tenancy claims of the private respondent. The counsel representing Kerkar stated that the tenants had produced a declaration of tenancy and a purchase sanad, which is conclusive under Section 18H of the Goa Agriculture Tenancy Act. Counsels Sahil Shriram Deshprabhu and Pavithran AV represented the petitioners.

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