Thursday, March 14, 2013

Report: Massive chunks of land under unauthorised occupation

Express news service: Chandigarh, Thu March 14 2013, 2:32 hrs

Confirming that massive chunks of land are under unauthorised occupation in the city's periphery, the Tribunal constituted to find out alleged illegal properties owned by high-ups in periphery submitted its report to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, on Wednesday.

The interim report has been submitted after perusing land records of several villages in the city's periphery. 

As per sources, the Tribunal — headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh h — has found thousands of acres of land to be under illegal occupation. Names of few high-ups also figure in the interim report. 

As the matter came up for resumed hearing today, a division bench took the report on record and asked the Punjab government to file its response by March 26. Several chunks of shamlat deh land and village common land has been grabbed by influential persons. A copy of the report was not made available today. 

On May 30, 2012, the High Court had set up a Judicial Tribunal 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 or common land has been grabbed or sold by high-ups or private persons. 

The Tribunal comprises retired Supreme Court Judge, Justice Kuldip Singh and assisted by Advocate P N Aggarwal, an expert in property cases, and B N Gupta, retired District and Sessions Judge (DSJ) from Haryana. The Tribunal was given four months to submit its report. 

The High Court had, while setting up the Tribunal, also directed Punjab to provide a place for functioning and infrastructure to the Tribunal in two weeks. Making it clear that the Tribunal would give findings on the nature of land allegedly grabbed by people, the HC had ruled that legal questions pertaining to cases will be left open by the Tribunal. If the Tribunal finds illegality committed in certain cases, it will be at liberty to recommend criminal action against the culprits. 

Significantly, the High Court had also included jumla mushtarkan malkhan land other than shamlat / forest/ nazool land which were already under the HC scanner. 

The inclusion of jumla mushtarkan malkhan land assumes significance since the Punjab government had given a clean chit to its bureaucrats and politicians who had transferred/ sold such land. The Court had also remarked that there is no provision in the rules pertaining to sale of shamlat land or jumla mushtarkan malkhan land.

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