Govt evolving SOP for transparency in functioning of revenue administration

High-level committee to recommend changes in laws, rules
Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 30: Concerned over deep rooted systemic issues and ambiguities, the Government has set into motion a process for evolving Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for bringing much-needed transparency in the functioning of Revenue Department at the field level and the task has been assigned to a high-level committee headed by Financial Commissioner Revenue.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that the General Administration Department vide Communication No.30-Comp/18 dated July 10, 2018 brought to the notice of Revenue Department a glaring instance of deep-rooted nexus between revenue officials and a property dealer and stressed the need for bringing much-needed transparency in the functioning of the department at the field level.
Through this communication, the GAD informed the Administrative Secretary of the Revenue Department that one Sandhya Devi, wife of Angrez Singh Slathia, a resident of Gurha Slathia had filed a complaint that she had purchased a piece of land measuring 7 Marlas in village Chowadhi from a property dealer namely Rashpal Singh.
The Fard-Intikhab under Khasra Number 55 for sale of land measuring 7 Marlas was issued by the then Patwari Mohammad Rashid Malik but the land was reportedly under occupation of one Suraj Prakash, who had already constructed a residential house on the said land.
The complainant was allegedly given possession of State land under Khasra Number 96 instead of Khasra No.55 as such the construction work on the spot was stopped by the State Vigilance Organization.
“The matter was enquired into which prima-facie revealed commission of irregularities by not following proper procedure for issuance of Fard Intikhab and consequent alienation of the land and the irregularities so committed pointed towards a nexus between the revenue officials and the property dealer”, the GAD had mentioned in the communication while advising constitution of a high-level committee to ensure transparency in the functioning of the Revenue Department by evolving a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP).
It is pertinent to mention here that in this particular instance of deep rooted nexus the then Deputy Commissioner Jammu had initiated action under rules against the then Patwari of Chowadhi Mohammad Rashid Malik but the then Financial Commissioner Revenue had come to the rescue of Patwari without any justifiable reason.
The then Financial Commissioner had not only reversed the order of Deputy Commissioner but also ordered posting of Patwari at the place from where he was removed by the Deputy Commissioner.
Now, as recommended by the General Administration Department a high-level committee headed by Financial Commissioner Revenue and comprising of both the Divisional Commissioners, Additional Commissioner in the office of Financial Commissioner Revenue, Regional Director Survey and Land Records Srinagar, Regional Director Survey and Land Records Jammu and representatives of Revenue and Law Departments not below the rank of Additional Secretary has been constituted.
The committee has been asked to evolve Standard Operating Procedure to address the systemic issues so as to ensure transparency in delivery of services to the citizens coupled with overall improvement in the functioning of the revenue administration and to avoid recurrence of such cases in future, sources said.
The panel has also been asked to provide justice to the aggrieved person(s) in case there has been wilful default on the part of the revenue field functionaries in discharge of their official duties, they added.
The committee has further been asked to look into level/degree of compliance on the ground vis-a-vis the instructions/SOP already issued vide Circular No.01 Rev/NG) dated October 30, 2015 and Circular No.01 Rev(NG) dated May 26, 2016.
“The committee shall also look into the laws/rules governing the revenue administration and recommend changes/amendments wherever required so as to bring institutional transparency/ accountability even though the revenue functionaries perform quasi-judicial functions”, read the order issued by Shahid Anayatullah, Commissioner Secretary to Government, Revenue Department.
Now, it is to be seen how much swiftness this high-level committee shows in accomplishing the task assigned to it as numerous committees on vital subjects constituted from time to time have failed to strictly adhere to the time-frame fixed by the Government.