Guthi ‘loses’ ownership of its land worth Rs 10 crore

Kathmandu, November 24:

The Revenue Collection Branch of the Guthi Sansthan yesterday wrote to the Land Revenue Office, Chabahil, to maintain “previous registration” of khangi land belonging to the Gajadhar Narayan Temple Guthi in its record book following a controversial order from the Supreme Court.

Officials at the Sansthan said the land worth Rs 10 crore no longer belongs to the Sansthan. Clause 27 (a) of Guthi Sansthan Act 2033 BS states that the ownership of khangi land cannot be transferred in the name of tenants.

Maintaining “previous record means” it will be virtually impossible for the Sansthan to reclaim the land. With aim of reclaiming its encroached land, Sansthan had, a week ago, directed its local offices to update records of its land.

The Sansthan had struck off the registration of the 28 ropani land belonging to the Narayan temple from its record book three years ago, saying the ownership of the land cannot be transferred to any individual. Ram Krishna Karanjit and six others, seeking tenancy rights over the land, had moved the Supreme Court.

On July 13 last year, a division bench of Supreme Court Judges Badri Kumar Basnet and Ram Prasad Shrestha had revoked the decision of the Sansthan to strike off the registration of the land, issuing a certiorari along with a mandamus order to the Sansthan to maintain the previous registration of the land.

Shimanta Raj Chaulagain, chief administrator of the Sansthan, said, “The verdict does not recognise Karanjit and six others as the rightful owners of the land.” He, however, added, “As the court has already issued a verdict in favour of the seven individuals, Sansthan can no longer reclaim the land.”

Badri Kumar Basnet, a former judge, termed the verdict “balanced and fair.” SC judge Ram Prasad Shrestha could not be reached for comment.

The verdict states that only the name of a real tenant can be registered in the record book section of LRO. Officials, however, beg to differ. “There are other kinds of registrations. Besides, the petitioners had only sought tenancy rights,” said Hem Raj Subedi, who had pleaded in the court on behalf of Sansthan. The Sansthan had filed a petition, but it was rejectd. Chapagain said, “We strongly disagree with the verdict but we will follow it.”

There are reasons that make the verdict controversial. First of all, the verdict was passed overruling the precedent established in March 10, 200 by then SC judges Laxman Prasad Aryal and Kedar Nath Acharya in a similar case - Bhairabi Mandir Guthi of Dhading district vs Guthi Sansthan.

The verdict on the Narayan temple case went in favour of petitioners though they had stated in their plea that they are caretakers and that they had not paid proceeds of the land to the Sansthan till date. Subedi said, “It was one of a few writs in which the verdict was issued so hastily.” The case of Bhairabi Guthi was settled in four years. The verdict went in favour of Sansthan.