GUWAHATI, May 20 � The Gauhati High Court, after hearing a writ petition filed by Pallorbund Tea Limited, set aside the notification dated August 12, 2008 issued by the Govt of Assam, whereby the rate of land revenue for tea lands in Barak Valley was enhanced to Rs 16 from Rs 9 per bigha and for the tea estates in Assam valley the land revenue was increased from Rs 12 to Rs 22 per bigha.
The writ petition was filed challenging the aforesaid notification, inter alia, on the ground that the imposition of higher rate of land revenue u/s 11 A of the Assam Land Revenue Re-assessment Act, 1936 is unjustified since the condition precedents for enhancing the rate of revenue is not satisfied by the authority. The further contention of the petitioner was that categorisation of the TE factory at industrial site u/s 11 A of the said Act is contrary to the law.
Justice Hrishikesh Roy after hearing the writ petition, inter alia, held that rate report must be prepared to consider revision of land revenue u/s 24 of the Re-assessment Act. That apart, opportunity must be available to the stakeholders to comment on the rate report which should be published u/s 23 (2) of the Act. But what is glaring here is that no material is produced by the respondents to show that the rate report was ever published under the provisions of the Act.
In the judgment, Justice Roy elaborately discussed the various provisions of the Act as well as various pronouncements of the Apex court and the Gauhati High Court, and accordingly held that the notification dated August 12, 2008 whereby the land revenue of the tea estates of entire Assam was enhanced, was invalid and further directed that if any enhanced land revenue/fine is already realised from the tea companies under this notification, the same should either be refunded or be adjusted with future revenue dues.
The court further recorded that this declaration will not foreclose the option of the Government to hike the rate of revenue for tea estate lands through due process under the Re-assessment Act or any other permissible law.