Div Com Ladakh has jurisdiction to deal with revenue appeals: HC

Picture used for representational purposes.

Excelsior Correspondent
Srinagar, Sept 16: The High Court today held that after the bifurcation of erstwhile State of J&K into two Union Territories (UTs), the Divisional Commissioner Ladakh UT is solely competent to hear the fresh revenue appeals as also the old ones which are pending before the Principal District Judges (PDJs) of Leh and Kargil.
The clarification followed after the order of Principal District Judge (PDJ) Kargil was challenged whereby revenue appeal pending before him has been sent to Divisional Commissioner Ladakh for further proceedings.
The appeal was filed before the Sessions Judge Ladakh in terms of previous provisions of law which has been withdrawn on August 8 2022 by withdrawing the powers of hearing the appeals by Sessions Judges of Leh and Kargil as the Ladakh is an independent UT after August 5, 2019.
The impugned order passed by the Sessions Judge Kargil by transferring the appeal to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir was on the ground that S.O. 91 of 2022 dated 8th August, 2022, whereby SRO 1 of 1981 dated 01.01.1981 has been withdrawn, is prospective in operation and Principal District Judge, Kargil, continues to have the powers of the Divisional Commissioner in respect of the cases entertained and pending before it prior to the issuance of S.O.91 of 2022.
It was argued that the Principal District Judge, Kargil, had no authority or power to transfer the pending cases including appeal of the petitioners to the Divisional Commissioner, Ladakh.
Justice Sanjeev Kumar while rejecting the arguments of the counsel said that in S.O. 91 of 2022 has not been made operational retrospectively and in absence of such stipulation, it is presumed to be prospective. It is, thus, evident, that the appeals and revisions entertained by District and Sessions Judges of Leh and Kargil and the orders passed therein, by virtue of which the appeals and revision stand disposed of, shall not be rendered without jurisdiction by issuance of S.O. 91 of 2022.
Court, however made it clear that with effect from 11th August, 2022, when S.O. 91 of 2022 was published in the Ladakh Gazette, the District and Sessions Judge of Leh and Kargil shall cease to have the powers of Divisional Commissioner and, therefore, would not be competent to entertain, deal with or decide the cases.
“The District and Sessions Judges of Leh and Kargil, court added, shall also not be entitled to hear the pending matters and pass any orders therein for the reason that the powers of Divisional Commissioner conferred upon them have been withdrawn with effect from 11th August, 2022,” Court said.
Court said that the inevitable consequence of withdrawal of the power is that all the pending appeals and revisions shall now be heard by the Divisional Commissioner, Ladakh.