Wednesday, November 20, 2013

JUSTICE KULDIP SINGH SPECIAL TRIBUNAL REPORT Part-IV: Punjab Land Grab - In Mirzapur village, the civil court itself violated law

Continuing with the series on grabbing of public land brought out by the Special Tribunal headed by Justice Kuldip Singh, The Tribune today reproduces the operative portions of the report pertaining to Mirzapur village.

Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 12

The Special Tribunal headed by Justice Kuldip Singh disclosed how in Mirzapur, a village known for its “khair” forests near Chandigarh, a civil court, which had no jurisdiction to entertain and adjudicate the land title of a suit, decided it in an unprecedented and summary manner. The Tribunal commented that the assumption of the jurisdiction by the civil court and its proceedings were in utter violation of the basics of the Civil Procedure Code. Further, the Punjab Revenue Department determined the fictitious shares without authority.

The Special Tribunal Stated, “The Shamlat deh land in the village was mutated in the name of Gram Panchayat vide Mutation No 570 on June 14, 1955. As per jamabandi pertaining to the year 1962-63 (Misl Haqiat), Mirzpur village had 18,273 bigha 6 biswa of total land, out of which 16,734 bigha 10 biswa was Gram Panchayat deh and the remaining above 1,552 bigha land was in the name of the proprietors of the village.

"18,273 bigha 6 biswa cannot be created by applying a pro-rata cut on 1,538 bigha 10 biswas of land (which is a mathematical impossibility). Therefore, the question of any kind of share of any proprietor in the Gram Panchayat deh could not arise by any stretch of imagination.

“After coming into force of the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, where under the jurisdiction of Civil Court was barred, a few residents of Mirzapur village filed collusive civil suit titled ‘Ami Chand and others versus Gram Sabha village Mirzapur C/o Sehi Ram, Sarpanch’ for the declaration of the title of 16,734 bigha 10 biswa (in the Misl Haqiat shown as 16,721 bigha 6 biswa) Gram Panchayat deh in favour of all the villagers. Suit No 208 instituted on 26.7.1962 was decided by Gurcharan Singh, PCS, Sub Judge, 1st Class, Chandigarh, on 17.10.1962. Photo-copy of the judgement is on the record.

“In the suit, Sarpanch Sehi Ram appeared before the court on behalf of Gram Sabha and made a statement before the court that all the proprietors of the village, including the plaintiffs, are owners of the case property and have been in its possession for the last 100 years, that the land has been mutated in the name of Gram Panchayat deh vide Mutation No 570 dated 14.6.1955 and that he admits the suit of the plaintiffs.

“On the basis of the statement of Sarpanch alone, the suit of the plaintiffs was decreed within a period of three months. The operative part of the order of the court reads, ‘In view of the statement of the defendant that he admits claim of the plaintiffs, their case succeeds which is decreed, leaving the parties to bear their own costs.’

“The order was not appealed against. Needless to say that the order of the civil court was cryptic, against the rules of natural justice and was in violation of the specific provisions of the law.

“There is nothing in the judgement of the civil court to show whether the Sarpanch had any authorisation from the Gram Sabha in the form of its resolution or he filed any written statement on behalf of the panchayat. We would further say that the assumption of the jurisdiction by the civil court and its proceedings were in utter violation of the basics of the Civil Procedure Code.

“As per jamabandi of the year 1962-63, the Gram Panchayat is the owner of 16,734 bigha 10 biswa Gram Panchayat deh. The nature of the land as per jamabandi (revenue record) is Gair Mumkin Pahar (non cultivable hill) and Gair Mumkin (Non cultivable) Nadi (16,078 bigha 7 biswa), Banjar Jadid (5 bigha 16 biswa), Banjar Qadim (305 bigha 9 biswa) and the remaining land is Barani (without canal irrigation). Thus, the land was not cultivable and could not be construed to be under the possession of any person.

“Further, the whole of this area is covered under Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1903. The nature of the land as per jamabandi pertaining to the year 2003-04 is still the same and is locked under the PLPA, 1903. On the basis of collusive decree of the civil court mentioned above, the Revenue Department without any authority or rationale went ahead to determine the fictitious shares of the villagers in the ratio of the proportion of the proprietors’ land in the total proprietary land of 1,552 bigha. The net result is that through this exercise, the Revenue Department allotted land to each of the proprietor 11 times of original lot of land in the village. The fraud is writ large on the face of it and there is no limitation to undo a fraudulent transaction.

“As the panchayat deh of 16,734 bigha 10 biswa land was not created after applying a pro rata cut on the land of the individual landowners of the village, there was no question of its giving back to them. The villagers are selling their notional share in the panchayat deh through registered sale deeds every day. This fraud is the result of the collusion between the villagers, village panchayat, authorities and the Revenue Department.

“There is another aspect relating to this village which may now be stated. Atma Ram, Lambardar and others of Mirzapur village filed a petition under Section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act, 1948, before the Additional Director Consolidation of Holdings on October 20, 1980. In the petition it was prayed that the Shamlat deh Khewat of 15,727 bigha 9 biswa, should be partitioned among them. An objection was raised since most of the area is mountain and could not be partitioned. The Additional Director Consolidation, Gulbahar Singh agreed with the objection and decided that the hilly area could not be partitioned.

“Thereafter, the applicants raised another contention that lot of grass grows on the land which is sold to various paper mills and its proceeds need to be distributed among the right holders and unless the shares are mentioned, the value of the produce, which is substantial, cannot be distributed among the share holders.

“The Additional Director agreed with the contention and only for the purpose of distributing the produce and its value, he mentioned the shares of the right holders for that limited purpose only. The application under Section 42 was disposed of on 5.3.1981. The revenue officials interpreted the order fraudulently to the advantage of the right holders and by Mutation No 897 dated 14.12.1981 mutated the shares in the land in the name of the right holders.

This was, prima facie, a fraud committed by the revenue authorities in connivance with the villagers. Thereafter, the right holders started selling their shares indiscriminately to various persons.

“Prima facie, the following illegalities are involved in this case: The Civil Court had no jurisdiction to entertain and decide the question of title of the suit land, therefore, its decree is a nullity in the eye of law; The suit was collusive and the court also decided it in a cryptic and unprecedented summary way. The Revenue Department without any authority determined the fictitious shares. It involves violation of PLPA 1903, Forest- Laws and Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act 1961”.

Besides the forest laws and regulations, the laws which were violated with impunity in Mirzapur village were:
  • Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1903
  • Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961
  • Civil Procedure Code

  • Late Lachhman Singh Kalka, former minister, MLA and MP and his sons Bhagat Singh and Gajinder Singh, who purchased 157 acres and 6 kanals worth of shares
  • Jyoti Dhir w/o Gajan Dhir (62 acres)
  • Puran Singh s/o Gurbachan Singh (33 acres 2 kanals)
  • Joga Singh - Sukhdev Singh s/o Gurbachan Singh (30 acres 3 kanals)
  • Eroded Space Design Panpam Enclave, J. K. Delhi (14 acres)
  • SYSS In space Pvt Ltd, Delhi (10 acres)
  • Harman Singh s/o Jetha (47 acres 2 kanals)
  • Dyal Ram s/o Ami Chand (45 acres 1 kanal)
  • Puran Chand s/o Ami Chand (47 acres 1 kanal)
  • Jhaju s/o Kapuria (59 acres)
  • Jyoti Gupta w/o Sandeep Gupta (13 acres 4 kanal)
  • Chetan Gupta w/o Sanjiv Gupta (14 acres)
  • Harnama s/o Sadhu (53 acres 3 kanals)
  • M/S Solidice Impact Pvt Ltd, Ludhiana (20 acres 1 kanal)
  • Rajesh Punia s/o Dharam Singh, Panchkula (21 acre 4 kanal)
  • And a large numbers of other persons

Copyright : The Tribune Trust, 2012.

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