'Misusing Goondas Act': Allahabad HC Imposes Rs 5 Lakh Cost On Gorakhpur DM For 'Malicious' Proceedings
Allahabad High Court. Representational Image. Image Courtesy: PTI
Delhi: In a significant ruling, the Allahabad High Court on Monday imposed a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the office of the Gorakhpur District Magistrate for initiating ‘malicious’ proceedings under the Uttar Pradesh Goondas Act.
The then Gorakhpur DM K Vijayendra Pandian had reportedly used the law to coerce a man to vacate his property and release it in favour of the district administration, the Live Law reported.
The two-judge bench comprising Justices Suneet Kumar and Syed Waiz Mian directed the Yogi Adityanath government to launch an inquiry into the incident and also begin a disciplinary inquiry into Pandian.
The Live Law quoted the court as saying, "...prima facie, we are convinced that the proceedings initiated against the petitioner is not only malicious but to harass the petitioner in respect of the property in dispute which admittedly vests with the petitioner lawfully.”
It added, “Further, the conduct of the respondent, in particular, the second respondent, District Magistrate, Gorakhpur, clearly demonstrates that he has no respect for the rule and law and has become a law unto himself...Failing to obtain the property in dispute in legal proceedings, the second respondent has now resorted to invoking U.P. 8 of 9 Goondas Act against the petitioner for misusing the forum of criminal administration.”
In these circumstances, the Court quashed the Goonda Act notice issued by the District Magistrate, Gorakhpur and imposed a 5 lacs cost on the office of DM Gorakhpur to be deposited with the High Court Legal Services Committee within 10 weeks from the date. The Court has also ordered to initiate inquiry against the then DM of Gorakhpur Vijyendra Pandiyan
The property in question is a 30,000-square feet bungalow in Gorakhpur owned by petitioner Kailash Jaiswal. According to LiveLaw, in 1999, the then DM transferred the said property to Jaiswal with a freehold deed. At that time, the Trade Tax Department had taken the property on rent and after defaulting on payment, Jaiswal filed a civil suit seeking the ejectment of the tenant and recovery of due rent.
According to the report, the civil suit was partially decreed, directing the Trade Tax Department to vacate the premises, which it did not do. Afterwards, the petitioner obtained a direction from the HC to finish the execution process within one month. The Trade Tax Department took the dispute to the Supreme Court, but received no relief in the matter.
After the possession of the property was handed over to the petitioner on November 30, 2010, Jaiswal started more construction on the property. The district authorities objected to the construction when Jaiswal again moved the HC. As a result, the court restrained the City Magistrate from interfering with the peaceful possession of the property.
While this suit was pending, Deputy Commissioner (Administration) Trade Tax Department Gorakhpur lodged an FIR against the Petitioner under sections 189, 332, 504, 506 I.P.C.by alleging that Jaiswal had threatened him. Nonetheless, regarding this FIR, the petitioner obtained a ‘no coercive action' order from the HC.
The High Court noted that the district administration had been dissatisfied with the petitioner obtaining the property and had even instituted a suit in 2002 to cancel the freehold deed of 1999.
The Court also noted that the Government of UP had written in 2009 to the DM Gorakhpur to withdraw the suit seeking cancellation of the freehold deed. In 2006, the government did the same, but the suit was not cancelled.
These developments made the Court conclude that there was high-handedness and gross misuse of the power by the District Magistrate as he refused to comply with the repeated orders of the state government.
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