There are many occasions when the Constitutional Authorities conduct themselves completely against the dignity required of their chair and the status of their post. All such cases send a very bad signal everywhere in the society.
Here I present a case related with me at Lucknow. Here, Paras Nath Maurya who is presently the Chairman of Uttar Pradesh State Backward Class Commission passed an order deciding validity of a Registry deed and for dispossessing one peaceful occupant of land which is completely beyond his power and authority. As is so well known to one and all, validity of a Registry deed, title of a land and order about dispossessing an occupant are orders which only a Civil Court is authorized to pass. That too after a proper civil suit has been filed by the affected party and hearing has been made as per the provisions of the Civil Procedure Code and the Indian Evidence Act. But Maurya decided not to follow any of these legal provisions and passed this illegal order about validity of Registry deed and change of possession in his order dated 09/08/2010 in complaint case No 186/2008 Shyam Bihari Vishwakarma vs SSP, Lucknow.
The matter relates with a piece of land I bought some seven years ago from a Cooperative Housing society at Lucknow. A complaint was made by Vishwakarma, an ex-Secretary of this Housing Society to Maurya as Chairman of the Commission saying that I had forcefully dispossessed some poor women belonging to Backward Castes by demolishing their boundary walls and was using my undue influence as the wife of Amitabh, an IPS officer. When the complaint was presented, the matter got enquired into by both the revenue and police officers and it came on record that there the complaint of demolishing of boundary wall was not correct and I was in peaceful possession of land I had duly purchased and got registered. Things should have ended there but Paras Nath Maurya gave an order deciding about the validity of the registry calling my registry as illegal and directing the State government that the possession of land shall be handed over to the Housing Society and the Commission be intimated within one month.
It is interesting to note that in such an important decision, he was making many serious errors like writing Ratan Thakur instead of Nutan Thakur, writing the name of the seller differently at different places and so on. Thus, he decided over a matter he clearly had no jurisdiction as the Chairman of Backward Commission. An important fact which I learnt later was Maurya’s son had been given a land by the same Vishwakarma as Secretary of the Society.
I wrote to the Chief Minister and Governor of UP to take suitable action in this case but when nothing came from this, I filed a Writ Petition in the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court praying to quash this illegal order. Interestingly, today (18/07/2011), the counsel of the respondent said that Maurya would take back his order within two days, a fact that makes it all the more clear that he had made an illegal order previously. On this, the High Court disposed of the Writ petition.
This might look like a personal matter but it is not only that because it shows how there are people who are misusing their authority and what we need to do in all such cases. Though the process is painful and standing against a powerful person like Chairman of a Commission is full of hardships, yet I have done it because I personally feel that each of us must resist whatever extra-constitutional or illegal measures are taken by any authority around us. Then only things will improve in the right direction.
Dr Nutan Thakur
Convener, National RTI Forum,