Friday, May 18, 2012

Punjab DGP, 7 others ‘own’ village common land

Chitleen K Sethi : Mohali, Thu May 17 2012, 01:17 hrs

A high-powered committee set up by the state government has found that the lands owned by Punjab DGP Sumedh Singh Saini and five other senior officers were actually parts of the village common land (shamlat/ mushtarkan malkan).

The committee, formed to probe the nature of land owned by 60 VIPs in Chandigarh’s periphery, found that apart from these six officers, two others — retired bureucrat JS Kesar and former SSP, G S Pherurai — have been shown to own land which is still, according to the revenue records, part of the village shamlat deh.

Selling and buying of shamlat deh land by private individuals is illegal under the Punjab Village Common Land (Regulations) Rules, 1964. Also division and subsequent sale of jumla mushtarkan malkan land is illegal under The East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948. Any such land deal amounts to the buyer having committed fraud with the village panchayat which is the custodian of all such lands.

The committee’s report, prepared by the government following orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court was submitted to the chief secretary on Friday.

The report gathered by the Mohali deputy commissioner from the tehsil offices in Kharar, Dera Bassi and Majri block, states that only eight out of the 60 VIPs whose names were provided by the court owned or ever owned public land.

Saini owned 32 kanal 9 marla (a little more than 4 acres) land in Kansal village. One acre (8 kanals) of this land was however sold vide mutation number 3955. This land, states the DC’s report, was part of the mushtakan malkan rasab hasab khewat (village common land) till 1986 when it was divided among the owners according to their individual shares. Saini bought this land from these individuals a decade later.

Similarly, the state election commissioner Shivinder Singh Brar owns another 32 kanals adjoining Saini’s land in Kansal, which too was part of the village common land till 1986.

JS Kesar, a retired IAS officer of the state has been shown to own 58 kanals 5 marla of land in Tira village, which is shamlat deh (indivisible village common land). Kesar has been issued eviction orders by the block development and panchayat officer (BDPO), Majri block, on May 4.

Former SSP, G S Pherurai, also owns 15 kanal 12 marla shamlat deh land in Dhanora village, also in the Majri block. He too was issued eviction orders on May 4 by the BDPO. D S Dhillon, son of Lal Singh IAS, Joginder Singh, Baldev Singh and Gurmeet Singh too have been shown to own plots, which were once part of the village common land.

On March 24, a division bench of acting Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Alok Singh, which is hearing a petition on the acquisition of property by the VIPs in Chandigarh’s periphery, had asked the Punjab government to report whether land purchased by the 60 high-ranking officers and politicians was ever “public” land and if anyone of them were in possession of shamlat/ forest/ panchayat/ nazrool land. The court had also asked the government on the measures it had taken to get public land released from these officers.

The 60 VIPs under the scanner were named in the probe report of former ADGP Punjab, Chandrashekhar as owning vast tracts of properties in and around Chandigarh.

The list shows Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal as owning five acres of land in Lohgarh village, his OSD Vishwajeet Khanna owning 21 acres in Nimbuan village, a former chief engineer Manmohanjit Singh owning 38 acres in Nimbuan, a former IAS officer AS Chattha owning land in Bishanpura, former DGP, Punjab, Gurbachan Singh Jagat owning land in Bishanpura, Navtej Singh son of Balwant Singh Ramoowalia owning land in village Chatt, Late Captain Kanwaljit Singh (Kishanpura), SS Boparai (Kishanpura), Kewal Singh Dhillon (Kishanpura), SS Virk (Dialpura, Bakarpur and Makhanmjra), Jagmohan Singh Kang and his family (Dulwa), Balbir Singh Sidhu (Kurari), Surinder Pal Singh Virk (Mohali).

Senior IAS officer KBS Sidhu is shown to “own” two schools, including the Small Wonders School in Mohali, in the name of Jasdeep Singh and Mandeep Singh in the list. Interestingly, the three tehsils, which were asked to go through the entries in the list and cross check them with the relevant revenue records found that in many cases the details in the list had no corroborative evidence in revenue records.

For instance the list states that Sumedh Singh Saini owns the “Saini-Farm” in village Sohana. He is shown to own another 6.5 acres in Sohana. The list also states that Saini is in illegal possession of 377 kanal and 10 marla of shamlat land of village Kansal. The report prepared for the High Court, however, shows that according to the revenue records Saini owns only 32.9 kanals in Kansal. No other land is shown to be owned by Saini. Similarly the list names former DGP NPS Aulakh owning land in Mohali, which too was not borne out by revenue records.

© 2012 The Indian Express Limited. All rights reserved

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