Govt admits Biscoe School illegally occupying prized land; fails to take action

Srinagar: The state government has failed to resolve the issue regarding land leased out to Tyndale Biscoe School here, even after a government committee questioned the validity of lease agreement and maintained that school has illegally occupied the prized land.
In July 2013, the Assistant Commissioner Nazool served show cause notice to the school authorities as to why action should not be taken against the institution for failing to clear the outstanding rent arrears amounting to around Rs 20.59 lakh over the years.
In response, the school administration submitted the amount in the form of demand drafts to the Commissioner’s office. The latter however did not accept the drafts and returned them to the school administration, saying that the land agreement was not valid.
“You have not entered into valid lease agreement which is to be signed by the Tehsildar Nazool on behalf of the Governor of J&K who is the only authorised officer to do so by virtue of government order (No. 3 of 1957 dated 23-02-1957),” the Commissioner said in his letter.
He also said that the amount can’t be accepted since Section 7(K) of Land Grants Act, 1960 has come into play in this case which says that “in case the ground rent or any part thereof shall be in arrear for a period of six calendar months or in case of breach of any conditions mentioned in clauses (c), (d), (e), (g) and (h), the lease shall stand determined, if in the event of such determination or where the term of the lease has expired, the lessee fails to deliver possession of the premises to the lessor, the lessor shall have right of re-entry upon the premises.”
Since then, the issue of termination of the lease and acceptance of ground rent from the school authorities has remained unresolved.
The Biscoe School is currently operating in Sheikh Bagh area of Srinagar on the Nazool land granted on lease to it. The lease was renewed on March 14, 1975 for 40 years.
According to a government order (No. rev (NDK) 322 of 1980 dated 12-09-1980) the details of the property leased out to the school include the land measuring 28 kanals and 60 marlas under Khasra No. 78, situated at estate Maisuma, and 55 kanals under Khasra 111, 116, 117, 118, 108, 109, 111, 113, 114, 78 and 87, located at estate Kothibagh.
According to the committee constituted by the government, the land measuring 21 kanals and 17 marlas is used by the school for the purpose of residence which is against the lease agreement.
Furthermore, the committee report, said that the unauthorised chunk of 33 kanals and 03 marlas of land under Khasra 113, 114 in estate Khotibagh and Khasra 78 and 87 in estate Maisuma is being occupied by the school since 1947 without paying any ground rent till date.
For another 51 kanals and 8 marlas of land, the school has not paid rent—which is only Rs 1250 per annum—for last 40 years. The lease would expire on 14.03.2015.
According to official sources, the government as per its order (No. Rev. 26 of 2004, dated 11-02-2004) has mentioned that the ground rent of the land shall be revised separately.
“While the final order in this behalf is awaited, the delay means a huge financial loss to the state exchequer,” the sources said.
They also said that the Nazool department last year wanted to take the matter with the Administrative Department for clarification of ground rent to be accepted from the lessee and further course of action with regard to unauthorised occupation of land. “But the process was shelved,” the sources said.
As per Land Grants Act 1960, the schools operating on the leased lands are supposed to be registered charitable society established for non-profitable purpose.
But the land and the school in question is under the control of Director, Tyndale-Biscoe and Mallinson Society, Parvez Samuel Kaul, his wife and son.