OCEAN: The offices of the Mamladar and the Deputy Collector who control the collectors office enjoy vast powers without any responsibility. They are considered the most corrupt of the government departments.
By Advocate Vinayak D Porob
The most corrupt officials in the state are in the Revenue department which has the maximum interface with the common man. The revenue department primarily is the office of the collectors of North and South Goa with the whole team of deputy collectors and Mamladars who form the bottom of the pyramid of the permit license raaj. You have to approach the collectors office not only for mutation of land but for domicile certificate, residential certificate and every permit except for permission to breath. The urgent need to supervise the officials of the revenue department is stressed by senior advocate Vinayak Parab who has represented many clients in revenue department which also function as a quote for civil matters.
THE MAMLATDAR is an officer appointed by the government of Goa and includes joint mamlatdar who are entrusted with very crucial powers while presiding over revenue court dealings with matters pertaining to the Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964, the Goa, Daman and Diu Mundkars (Protection from Eviction) Act, 1975, the Goa, Daman and Diu Mamlatdar’s Court Act, etc.
One of the most controversial and crucial power a mamlatdar exercises is to carry out mutation in the record of rights of Form I and XIV or Form III or Form D as per section 96 of The Goa Land Revenue Code, 1968. LLB is an essential qualification required to be a mamlatdar in the state of Goa who is in fact the executive magistrate of a taluka. It is an irony that a degree in LLB is not a mandatory qualification for the post of the deputy collector who is a junior scale officer and the appellate authority of the mamlatdar.
The quasi judicial functions exercised as a revenue court by the mamlatdar are of severe importance and relevance as the tenancy rights and mundkarial rights are determined and decided by the mamlatdars, as even the civil courts have no jurisdiction to deal with matters pertaining to tenancy or mundkarial rights.
Determination of tenancy issue is so vital that if a person who is not a lawful tenant succeeds in his tenancy declaration, the repercussions would be severe as the landlord or the owner as a consequence will lose his entire land/property under tenancy to the person seeking tenancy declaration; similarly if a lawful tenant fails to prove his tenancy then under such circumstances in spite of cultivating the entire property, the lawful tenant will be deprived of the land/property cultivated by him as a tenant.
Tenancy and Mundkarial rights should be judiciously determined by considering the evidence adduced and the documents produced by the parties and therefore for determination of tenancy or mundkarial rights, the mamlatdar should possess absolute knowledge of the Goa, Daman and Diu Agricultural Tenancy Act, 1964 and the Goa, Daman and Diu Mundkars (Protection from Eviction) Act, 1975. Considering the nature of the powers exercised by the mamlatdar, the competency of the mamlatdar to discharge and perform their functions play a very important role, as a wrong order of determination can ruin the life of the parties fighting for their rights.
IN the present scenario it is very sad to note that the majority of the mamlatdar appointed by the government are incompetent to exercise quasi-judicial functions and some of them are not even in a position to record the roznama or the proceeding sheet in the prescribed manner. The proceeding sheet or the roznama is in crux a written record of the business conducted in the hearing of a case and if the same is not recorded properly, the entire sequence of the business carried out on previous dates of hearings remain in a quandary.
Some of the mamlatdars appointed are not in the position to converse in English or write a sentence in English grammatically correct and hence, no one may expect such a mamlatdar to pass orders in detail and grammatically correct. The orders passed by the mamlatdar should be speaking orders after hearing all the parties to the proceeding and with reasoning as to why the proceeding has been decided in favour of a particular party.
There are several Awal Karkun’s promoted as mamlatdar in the state of Goa and most of the Awal Karkun’s promoted are so incompetent that their orders do not assail more than two lines. Most times deputy collectors who in appeal decide the issues determined by the mamlatdar are worse than mamlatdar as they do not possess a degree in LLB or experience in legal practice.
It is always not the case that the mamlatdar and the deputy collectors are incompetent, as many a time through intermediaries such as the talathi and clerks attached to the mamlatdar’s office, the mamlatdar and the deputy collectors are managed. Since the appointment of the mamlatdar and deputy collectors are mostly through political influence, interference by politicians also consequentially adversely affect the orders passed by the mamlatdar and deputy collectors.
Politicians compel the mamlatdar and deputy collectors to dance to their tunes or else there is always a threat of transfer and/or suspension on one pretext or the other. Since some years now a new trend has begun of agents who act as intermediaries and after accepting a lump sum, manage the mamlatdar and the deputy collectors and succeed in obtaining desired orders in favour of the parties approaching and paying these agents.
CORRUPTION in the mamlatdar and the deputy collectors offices is embedded to such an extent that there are resident agents in the Mamlatdars and in the Deputy Collectors offices. Now agency is at a glore when it comes to Mutations and even the staff in the office of the Mamlatdar gives preference to the agents rather than the advocates who file Mutation applications on behalf of their clients.
Documents and files go missing from the office of the Mamlatdars and Deputy Collectors and mutation records of most of the files are missing as most of the mutations are done without sufficient documents and by managing the Mamlatdars. The mamlatdar and the deputy collectors are totally under the control of the government and as such have become puppets in the hands of ministers and if the mamlatdar and deputy collectors do not succumb to political pressure, than irrespective of their competency, as a reward for not agreeing to the illegitimate demands they are rewarded with punishment postings which usually is a posting at a long distance from the residence of the said mamlatdar or deputy collector, and/or posting where no quasi-judicial powers are exercised!
Being an advocate and having appeared in such revenue courts presided by the mamlatdar and deputy collectors, I personally feel that it is high time now that the government should seriously rethink on the recruitment and appointment policy of mamlatdar and the deputy collectors. The system of common cadre for appointment of junior scale officers as deputy collectors appears to be not working due to lack of competency, legal knowledge and experience in legal practice of such junior scale officers who are posted as deputy collectors. The system of promoting Awal Karkun’s to the post of the mamlatdar also has to be stopped and the minimum qualification should mandatorily be practiced in the legal field as an advocate for not less than five years so as to gain practical legal knowledge with respect to legal proceedings and courts.
SIMILARLY, for appointment of junior scale officers who are posted as deputy collectors, LLB degree along with legal practice as an advocate for a minimum 5-7 years should be made compulsory or else a separate cadre should be established to appoint deputy collectors in the state of Goa. Before joining office, the appointed mamlatdar and deputy collector should be provided training in some judicial academy in the country so that they gain knowledge and experience with respect to conducting and deciding cases.
The blame for the failures of the mamlatdar and deputy collectors cannot be always down to or attributed to incompetency, corruption and inefficiency, as work overload also affects their functioning. The administrative functions and powers overweigh quasi judicial functions and duties of the mamlatdar and deputy collectors. Mamlatdar and deputy collectors are ROs and AROs for all elections and most of their time is diverted to election work such as framing of electoral roll/voters list and other incidental matters with respect to elections ,as a consequence of which delay is caused in disposal of cases pending before them for adjudication. To avoid delay in disposal of cases and in dispensation of justice, the government should appoint separate mamlatdar and deputy collectors to discharge administrative functions and separate mamlatdar and deputy collectors to discharge quasi judicial functions, or else the number of cases pending will only increase in the state of Goa.
The government allots most of the work to the revenue department only. The officers of other departments without being allotted much work enjoy benefits and promotions on the same scale as of the officers of the revenue department, due to the system of common cadre followed in the state. Therefore it is high time now for the government to work out a mechanism in distributing work equally to all the officers of all the departments in public interest, or else the parties litigating for their rights will always suffer delay caused in disposal of cases.
(This is the personal opinion of the writer who is a practicing advocate in Mapusa, Goa.)