Does the performance of Judicial functions by Revenue Officials violate the doctrine of Separation of powers

The High Court of Karnataka has been hearing an issue based on a reference. It has been noticed that the Assistant Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner both of them are discharging dual functions i.e. administrative and judicial under several enactments and the Karnataka Land Revenue Act respectively.

It is to be noted that there are disputes related to revenue touching upon issues like title and possession, which are to be determined by the civil courts. Although, it is clear that the jurisdiction of civil courts is barred by the Revenue Act.

It is for the court to decide the constitutional issue that entrustment of work to non-judicial personnel would lead to a violation of basic structure of the Constitution of India i.e. independence of judiciary and doctrine of separation of powers.

The single judge while making a reference observed that:

The petitioner stated that there is irregularity/inconsistency in the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964, particularly in case of appeal or revision provisions. It becomes an error on part of legislators if looked from the point of Entry 45 to Schedule VII of the List no. II as mentioned in the Constitution of India.  Entry 45 deals in revenue collected in the matter of lands and deciding the question arising therefrom, and not considering Entry 45 for fixing the jurisdiction of appellate and revision powers. There are few question formed for reference.

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