Thursday, August 30, 2012

Periphery properties: Punjab fails to get immediate relief from Supreme Court

RAGHAV OHRI : Chandigarh, Sat Aug 25 2012, 01:31 hrs

Desperate for a stay on the order passed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on setting up a Judicial Tribunal to probe the alleged illegal properties owned by high ups, the Punjab government failed to get any immediate relief from the Supreme Court. 
A senior lawyer, arguing on behalf of the Punjab government requested a division bench of the Apex Court to stay the operation of the High Court order as the said order has made Punjab’s revenue and civil courts defunct. However, the Bench refused to grant stay or any immediate relief today. Putting queries, the Supreme Court today asked the Punjab government to return with response next week. 
The Apex Court pointed out to a deficiency in an affidavit filed by the Punjab government in its special leave petition (SLP). The Bench objected to the affidavit filed by the Financial Commissioner, Revenue. The Bench observed that the affidavit, to support the SLP, should have been by the Principal Secretary to Punjab government. 
Counsel for Punjab government requested the Bench to grant stay as an interim relief till the next date of hearing. The Bench however declined the request. In its SLP, the Punjab government has taken the plea that after the High Court’s order of setting up a Judicial Tribunal, its (Punjab) Revenue and Civil Courts have virtually become defunct. 
The Punjab government has further stated that the High Court order has adversely affected the transfer of common land in the State. So much so that some of the government projects have also been affected, the State has submitted in its SLP. 
The State has further stated that statutory bodies, like the Revenue Commissioners, have stopped entertaining cases and appeals pending before them after the High Court’s order. Punjab has further submitted that the High Court’s order, has put complete stay on registration of sale deeds regarding shamlat deh land. 
As an immediate relief, the Punjab government had demanded that the High Court’s order should be stayed immediately so that the Revenue Court and Civil Courts can adjudicate disputes pertaining transfer/ sale and alienation of common land. 
On May 30, a division bench of the High Court had set up a Judicial Tribunal today to find out the alleged illegal properties owned by high-ups in the city’s periphery and other parts of Punjab. In an embarrassment to the Punjab government which had been investigating the case for the past five years, the High Court had expanded the scope of investigation from city’s periphery to other districts in Punjab where village/ common land has been grabbed or sold by high-ups/ private persons. 
Significantly, the High Court had also included jumla mushtarkan malkhan land other than shamlat / forest/ nazool land which were already under the HC scanner. In 2007 the Court had directed the Punjab government to conduct an investigation and submit a report. Even after conducting the probe and submitting several status reports, the High court had observed, no “tangible progress” was shown and no “tangible” action was taken against the culprits.

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