Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Land grab: HC to pass orders for judicial tribunal today

HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh , May 28, 2012

The Punjab and Haryana high court would pass the final orders on Tuesday for constitution of a judge-led tribunal to look into government land grab cases by politicians, bureaucrats, police and revenue officers in Punjab, which would file its report within six months. The division bench comprising acting chief justice MM Kumar and justice Alok Singh on Monday widened the scope of judicial panel to be headed by retired Supreme Court judge Kuldeep Singh, which was earlier going to look into the land grab by influential persons in Chandigarh's periphery and SAS Nagar.

The bench directed amicus curiae Arun Jain to make some additions/changes in the terms of reference already prepared by him for the tribunal and submit it on Tuesday for passing the final orders.

On the earlier directions of the bench, five more petitions pending before the other bench of the high court regarding government land grab cases in various parts of the state were added for judicial probe with the main case.

Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal apprised the bench that many similar cases were pending before the Supreme Court, high court and the lower courts.

The bench observed that the village common land or 'jumla mushtarka malkan' had been redistributed among various proprietors, which was the whole gamut. "The tribunal would find what was the nature of land, how it had undergone change and the findings recorded by the tribunal would come back to the bench," said the bench.

The bench also said that the tribunal would be given powers vested in the civil court so that it direct the revenue, forest and rural development departments' officials to assist it properly. The bench also advised the amicus curiae to include in the terms of reference that the government authorities should provide essential staff to the tribunal within 30 days of the orders and that the tribunal would submit its first report to the high court within 3-4 months.

The bench also agreed to the submissions of senior advocate Puneet Bali, appearing in one such similar case, that any final action on tribunal's report should be taken only after adjudication in the high court. It also said that any of the counsels could assist the bench in fair investigation of the case.

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