Ex-MP Joice George, family lose 28-acre property in Idukki; title deeds revoked

Ex-MP Joice George, family lose 28-acre property in Idukki; title deeds revoked
Joice George

Thodupuzha: Former parliamentarian Joice George and his family have been deprived of the ownership rights of vast areas of land located at Kottakkamboor village in Kerala's Idukki district. Devikulam sub-collector Renu Raj annulled the ownership right and title deed of the disputed land as the former MP of the the Idukki Lok Sabha constituency and his kin failed to submit the required land documents amid a probe into age-old land fraud.

Joice and his family reportedly had 32 acres of land in block number 58 in Kottakkamboor village at the Vattavada panchayat in Devikulam taluk. Of this, the title deed of 28 acres has been cancelled. The notification in this regard was issued on Saturday.

With the official action, property transfer, mutation of property (pokkuvaravu) and tax payment on these lands would not be possible now. The Devikulam tahsildar has been asked to make the necessary changes in the revenue records before the government attaches the property.

This disputed land was in the ownership of Joice George, his wife Anoopa, Joice's siblings Georgie George and Rajeev Jyothish, his brother-in-law David Job, another brother Justin's wife Jis, and Joice's mother Mary George.

Joice and his wife alone have eight acres out of the 32 acres over which action has been ordered. However, Joice and family have another 33 acres of land at Kottakkamboor itself. The title deed and ownership of this land could also be cancelled soon.

The land encroachment issues in Kottakkamboor village were exposed a couple of years ago and subsequently the authorities scrutinised the documents of suspect plots.

Title deeds cancelled for second time

This is for the second time that the title deed of the Kottakkamboor land of Joice and his family has been cancelled. The government had cancelled the title deed of their 28 acres in November 2017 based on a report filed by the then Devikulam sub-collector V R Prem Kumar.

Prior to the current order, Joice was issued notice thrice, asking him to submit the documents, but he did not turn up. Subsequently, the title deed was cancelled. Joice had filed an appeal against this with the collector, who entrusted the Devikulam sub-collector to listen to the arguments and take a decision.

After the sub-collector issued a notice for hearing, Joice approached the High Court. In his petition to the HC, Joice had sated that he had given a complaint to the land revenue commissioner and until that is resolved, the sub-collector's action should be held up. The High Court subsequently issued a stay on the sub-collector's action.

The land revenue commissioner, who had considered Joice's appeal then, asked the sub-collector to take a final call. When Dr Renu Raj took charge as the sub-collector, Joice was asked to come in person for the hearing. When the HC was moved over this, the court said that the presence of the advocate would suffice.

The report by current sub-collector, Dr Renu Raj, has the same findings that were earlier pointed out by former sub-collector Prem Kumar to cancel Joice's title deed. The land assigning committee was not convened before giving the title deed to Joice and family.

Dr Renu Raj's report had pointed out the title deed of government land in Kottamkkamboor was acquired by forging documents.

The collector had first received a complaint on the land in Kottakkamboor in 2014. It said that Joice's father Paliyath George had taken over the land from a few people of Tamil-origin using the power of attorney. They were also from the Scheduled Caste community.

Documents were allegedly forged to get the title deed and then the land was acquired, the complaint stated. Eight cases have been filed against Joice and family members for land fraud.

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