In the recent years, there is an interpretational query in scenarios wherein the jurisdictional Deputy Commissioner has originally accorded conversion under Section 95 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act, 1964 (“KLR Act”) for a land use now inconsistent with the zoning of the land as earmarked under the Revised Master Plan 2015 (“RMP 2015”). Given the scenario, should the landowner now obtain a change of purpose order as mandated under Section 97 of the KLR Act in relation to the usage of such lands for purposes other than for the purpose for which permission was accorded in terms of Section 95 of the KLR Act?
The intricacies of the aforesaid query are discussed in this blog, by way of an analysis of various legal provisions and judicial precedents.
The land purpose and its usage / development in Bangalore are governed by the RMP 2015 and the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act, 1961 (“KTCP Act”).
Section 95 (2) of the KLR Act inter alia mandates that any occupant wanting to divert agricultural land, in full or in part, to any other purpose will require permission of the Deputy Commissioner. The Deputy Commissioner in turn may refuse or grant permission on terms & conditions that he may deem fit.
Further, if the intended diversion of such land is included as well as in accordance with the land use specified in the ‘Master Plan’, published under the KTCP Act, then Section 95 (2) of the KLR Act mandates that the Deputy Commissioner shall not refuse permission for its diversion.
Section 97 of the KLR Act inter alia mandates that in the event any applicant wishes to utilise the lands for purposes other than for the purpose for which permission was accorded in terms of Section 95 of the KLR Act, then due permission for such purpose shall have to be obtained.
Additionally, Section 14 of the KTCP Act inter alia mandates that every land use / change in land use and every development in the area covered by the RMP 2015 shall conform to the provisions of KTCP Act, the Master Plan (i.e. RMP 2015) and the Report, as finally approved by the State Government.
The proviso to Section 14 of the KTCP Act inter alia mandates that where the use or change of land use needs the diversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural purposes, such use or change of use shall not be permitted unless permission is obtained in accordance with the provisions of the KLR Act.
Therefore, it could be argued that the specific intent of the legislation is to direct an applicant to the provisions of the KLR Act only in scenarios wherein the lands are still earmarked as ‘agricultural’ in nature and not otherwise.
Additionally, Section 76M of the KTCP Act inter-alia mandates that, unless provided in the KTCP Act, the provisions of the KTCP Act and the rules, regulations and bye-laws made thereunder shall take effect notwithstanding any inconsistent provision under any other law.
We have come across judicial precedents wherein the High Court of Karnataka (“HC”) has inter alia held that, owing to the overriding effect of Section 76M of the KTCP Act over other laws, a change in use of land falling within the area of Outline Development Plan or Comprehensive Development Plan could be effected or undertaken only with the written permission of the Planning Authority.
The HC has further clarified that in the event, a land falls within the Outline Development Plan or Comprehensive Development Plan prepared for Bangalore Metro Planning Area, the Special Deputy Commissioner, Bangalore ceases to have any power under Section 95 of the KLR Act, in view of the overriding effect given to the provisions of the Karnataka Town and Country Planning Act by Section 76M thereof over all other laws, including the KLR Act.
In other judicial precedents, the HC has also specified that Section 76M of the KTCP Act gives primacy to all the provisions of KTCP Act and overriding effect over other laws. Therefore, it could be argued that the HC has brought out the supremacy of Section 76M of the KTCP Act as against any other law leading to a possible interpretation that if the development is in compliance with the KTCP Act, then the non-compliance of any other law will not declare the development undertaken in terms of KTCP Act arising thereunder as unlawful.
Basis the above, a view could be discerned that the requirement to obtain permission from the Deputy Commissioner arises in the event the land conversion is from ‘agricultural’ to ‘non-agricultural’ and such a requirement to seek a change of land purpose again under Section 97 of the KLR Act does not extend if the intended purpose of the lands falling within Comprehensive Development Plan / Outline Development Plan notified under the KTCP Act is in accordance with the zoning / classification notified therein.
Harsha Sudhindra, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas