For not paying outstanding dues since 2014, a lower court in Malappuram has attached the properties of the district collectorate, to settle landowners who had given up their land for construction of the Government Medical College in Manjeri.
Officials from the Manjeri sub court attached 29 computers and one Ambassador car - assets of the Malappuram administration - from the collectorate, earlier this week.
The assets were attached to recover a part of Rs 8.8 crore - the amount that the court had ordered the state to pay back in 2014. This amount was to be paid to six landowners who had given away over 500 acres of land for setting up of the Medical College in Manjeri. However, six years later, the district administration has failed to settle this outstanding amount, resulting in the court order to attach government assets.
"The 2014 order by the Manjeri sub-court was an enhancement on the original price that we had paid these six landowners when we acquired their land. After they petitioned the court in 2014 claiming that the land fare value had been higher and they were not compensated enough, the lower court allowed an enhancement on the original fare. This enhancement came up to 8.8 crore - almost a 425% increase on the original amount. This is a huge amount for the government to pay up," Malappuam district collector Jafar Malik told TNM.
According to the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, landowners can petition the district, sub or munsiff courts against the land acquisition officer's order, claiming further compensation for the land that they give away for public use. This can be done even after the project for which their land was acquired has been completed, the district collector added.
In the case of the Manjeri Medical College, the six landowners petitioned the lower court claiming that their land was undervalued, the Malappuram collector added.
Following the lower court's direction to compensate the land owners, the Kerala government moved the High Court challenging this order. They also asked for a stay on the Manjeri sub court's order.
"There were 6 petitions in total. We were granted a stay in one of the cases. However, the lower court continued to act on the order and has asked for the properties in the collectorate to be attached. As our appeal against this order is still pending in the Kerala HC, we cannot pay the whole amount to the landowners," Jafar Malik added.
However, the Malappuram administration has requested the state finance and payments department to allow for a portion of the unpaid amount (10-15 percent) to be paid to the petitioners. A decision on the rest of the dues will be taken after the High Court order on the state government's appeal, the collector said.