'Historic' land reforms order: MLA PV Anvar asked to surrender 6 acres in 7 days

  • Nilambur MLA Anwar, his first wife Sheeja, and four children own 21.72 acres, finds Taluk Land Board
  • A family of six persons can hold only 11 standard acres, which translates to 13.93 ordinary acres. The family claimed an exemption of 1.54 acres
  • Thamarassery Taluk land Board identified 10 plots in three districts for Anwar to surrender
P V Anvar
LDF MLA P V Anvar. Photo: Manorama

Kozhikode: After proceedings that lasted for nearly six long years, the Thamarassery Taluk Land Board concluded that the influential LDF MLA P V Anvar and his family held surplus land of 6.25 acres and ordered them to surrender the plots to the government in seven days, that is by October 3.

"The order of the Taluk Land Board is historic. It is the first time the state government is asking an incumbent Left MLA to surrender his surplus land under the Kerala Land Reforms Act," said transparency activist K V Shaji, who relentlessly pursued the case for the past five years by repeatedly moving the Taluk Land Board and the High Court of Kerala and submitting documents of Anvar's undeclared properties. "The order is sweeter because Anvar started by saying he did not own any surplus land," said Shaji, who does not own any land.

In his order dated September 26, Taluk Land Board chairman T R Rajeesh identified 10 plots to be surrendered to the respective tahsildars. Six plots are in Trikkalangode village, and one plot is in Perakamanna village of Malappuram's Ernad taluk; two plots are in Kuzhalmannam village of Palakkad's Alathur taluk; and one plot is in Koodaranji village of Kozhikode's Thamarassery taluk.

Anvar was allowed to surrender the plots of his choice but he did not exercise the option. 

The Taluk Land Board excluded commercial properties such as Anvar's Water theme park on 11 acres at  Kakkadampoyil in Koodaranji village and a residential school in Nilambur from the list of surplus land because "considerable amount has been expended towards the construction and development of these sites", the order said.

The chairman's final order is based on the final report submitted by the Taluk Land Board's authorised officer on September 7. 

According to the order, Nilambur MLA and his first wife Sheeja and their four children own 21.72 acres. According to the Kerala Land Reforms Act, a family of six persons can hold only 11 standard acres, which comes to 13.93 ordinary acres. The family claimed an exemption of 1.54 acres under Section 81 (1) of the Kerala Land Reforms Act. That leaves the family with excess land of 6.25 acres.

The Taluk Land Board also examined the landholdings of his second wife Afsath and their minor son. It found that she did not exceed the land ceiling and she was excluded from the surplus land case.

To be sure, Afsath and Anvar together own the water theme park on 11 acres but the property was excluded from the list because it was a commercial property.

Anvar had moved an application urging the chairman to set aside the Authorised Officer's report. The request was dismissed.

Anvar then asked the chairman to appoint an advocate commissioner in the final stage of the proceedings. The chairman dismissed it saying the request "can be viewed as a step to delay the disposal of the case, in which the high court ordered a time-bound disposal".

The final order authorised the tahsildars concerned to take possession and ownership of the plots identified if Anvar did not surrender them in seven days. The tahsildars were also directed to file compliance reports to the Thamarassery Taluk Land Board and District Collectors.

History of the surplus land case

The surplus land case dates back to 2017 when the collectors of Malappuram and Kozhikode gave two separate reports to the government saying Anvar prima facie owned excess land.

Based on the reports, the State Land Board -- tasked with finding and taking over excess land -- in December 2017 directed the Thamarassery Taluk Land Board to register a case under the Kerala Land Reforms Act and initiate proceedings to take over the excess land.

When the Taluk Land Board did not register a case for three years, Shaji moved the High Court in 2021.

On March 24, 2021, the High Court directed the Taluk Land Board to wrap up the proceedings in six months, that is by September 25, 2021.

When the Taluk Land Board did not initiate any step, Shaji filed a contempt of court case the same year.

On January 1, 2022, the Taluk Land Board sought five more months to conclude all proceedings initiated against Anvar. The high court granted it, setting the new deadline as July 2022. That deadline also whooshed by, despite Shaji sending two reminder letters to the Land Board to initiate the proceedings.

Shaji then urged the High Court to reopen the contempt of court case.

During all these years, the Thamarassery Taluk Land Board saw 17 chairpersons in five years. Some chairpersons -- usually a deputy collector from the Revenue Department -- were transferred out from the post in 14 days and 20 days.

The Taluk Land Board sped up the proceedings only in July this year when the High Court pulled it up and made the chairman apologise for the delay.

Activist Shaji said he was also not entirely happy with the final order because Anvar owned much more than what the Taluk Land Board managed to identify. "But for a person who wants to lead the life of a Marxist, I am proud of the order asking the powerful MLA to surrender his excess land," Shaji said.

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