Hyderabad: The Telangana High Court on Tuesday raised eyebrows over the arguments of the K. Chandrashekar Rao-led government, when it tried to argue that it was unable to restart registrations of non-agriculture properties in the state due to the interim orders issued by the High Court.
The Telangana state government argued that it had stopped registrations of non-agricultural lands in deference to the court’s order in a public interest litigations (PIL) challenging the government’s decision of insisting that property owners upload their Aadhar, caste and family members details on to the Dharani portal.
Reacting to the contention, the division bench of the Telangana High Court comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy, which dealt with the matter concerning the legality of Dharani portal, said that it had never stopped land registrations of any kind.
“The government had issued G.O. 102, dated September 8, to stop registrations temporarily. Our directions to the government, in our interim orders, was not to insist upon details of property owners, their family members, which impacts only registrations done through the Dharani portal. If the government was so concerned about hurdles faced by people over delay of registrations, it can go ahead using the old method of provisional registrations,” the Bench said emphatically.
Further, the Bench said the government can go with a rider by informing those who wish to get their property registered that all registrations would be subject to the outcome of the petitions. If the order comes in favour of the government, then at a time of mutation of property, then details like who got property registered would be asked. With that, the government can upload them onto Dharani portal. Nothing stays registrations, the Court said.
The court was stressed how the government was insisting that property owners give Aadhar details without answering how it would be safeguarded. The court said the government should come out clearly as to what safety precautionary measures are being taken to protect data gathered from property owners on Dharani portal. People should have clarity regarding the safety of their details. If the government does not inform people of safety measures taken, where will people go in case their data is breached, Chief Justice Chauhan questioned.
Advocate General B.S. Prasad, representing the state government, informed the Court that the Telangana government was “taking all precautionary measures” to ensure that massive data pertaining to owners of non-agriculture and agriculture obtained and fed into Dharani portal.
But he declined to divulge details pertaining to safety measures taken, saying such details cannot be out in public domain. If the court wants to examine the measures, the government is ready to submit in sealed cover, he said. But on grounds of apprehension over security of data, digitalisation couldn't be denied, Advocate General submitted.
CJ Chauhan, sharply reacting to the contentions, said, “vast amounts of sensitive data collected from property owners and such data cannot be breached by the government or any other third party. It should be totally protected.”
The CJ gave an example of vaccination for Coronavirus, which is in trial stages. He said that before the final dose of the vaccine is out, it has been tested on so many people, it has been subjected to several trials. This entire arduous exercise has been taken up only with a motto to show people that the vaccine, which is out in the market is safe and can be administered. Likewise, governments may come and go, but data collected should be safeguarded. As of now, the situation is in utter confusion how the government is compelling owners to upload data without backing any law, the CJ said.
Senior Counsel D. Prakash Reddy brought to notice of the Court that errors and negligence of officers in making rules related to mutation of non-agricultural properties, which were recently issued by the government. In a G.O. 227 dated December 7, 2020, which related to mutation within GHMC limits, officers just copied and pasted other GOs issued related to mutations in other gram panchayats and municipalities. He filed interim applications over the said GOs.
Justice Vijaysen Reddy asked the government to think about the suggestion of the court to continue registrations with the old method, by putting a rider.
The Advocate General took a day’s time to file counter affidavits over these applications. The cases were adjourned to December 10. Meanwhile, the interim stay was extended....