Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Gwal Pahadi row: Land in question was village common land, reveals revenue record

It was a gram panchayat land (shamlat deh) and could have been transferred to municipal corporation and not individuals, the HC bench orally said.

Updated: May 04, 2017 21:32 IST
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh

Revenue records produced by the Haryana government before the Punjab and Haryana high court have revealed that the controversial 464 acres of Gwal Pahari land in Millenium City was common village land and could not have been transferred to individuals.

The high court also observed that the mutation whereby title of land was changed in the 80s was wrong. It was a gram panchayat land (shamlat deh) and could have been transferred to municipal corporation and not individuals, the HC bench orally said.

Following the revelation, the Punjab and Haryana high court has now directed the Haryana government to submit details as to how much land out has been encroached upon by the next date of hearing. High court also asked the municipal corporation to start process of vacating land from individual occupants.

The direction was issued by high court bench of justice Justice SS Saron and Justice Darshan Singh while hearing a petition seeking a CBI probe on the controversial mutation of land.

Revenue officials such as tehsildar/naib tehsildar and revenue patwari and Kanoongo having the charge of village Gwal Pahari were present in court and produced record pertaining to the land.

The high court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Harinder Dhingra, a city resident, seeking CBI probe arguing that bureaucrats, politicians and local revenue officials were involved in the issue. An independent probe by an agency such as the CBI was required to ascertain the people behind involved in the mutation of prime land, he had argued.

As per the petitioner, ownership of the disputed land was with the gram panchayat of Gwal Pahari since 1940 and transferred to municipal corporation of Gurugram in 2010. Then financial commissioner (revenue),Yudhvir Singh Malik was not competent to pass an order on mutation in 2012, which the petitioner alleged had “favoured” some builders. Malik had passed the order on the application of a private party challenging the 2010 transfer of land.

Malik’s decision was challenged by MCG before financial commissioner Surina Rajan, who stayed the order. But in October 2015, SS Dhillon, an IAS officer, restored the same. Thereafter, the matter had reached the state government and a decision was taken for mutation of land in favour in MCG. But this order too was declared void in January, 2017 by district collector TL Satyaprakash. District collector ‘s decision has now been stayed by Gurgaon divisional commissioner D Suresh in February, as per the petitioner.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Rs 50-cr shamlat land passed off as pvt land

Role of panchayat dept officials under scanner

Aman Sood I Tribune News Service I Patiala, April 30

Panchayat members show the 180-acre village 

common land at Arno in Patiala district on Sunday. 
Tribune photo: Rajesh Sachar
Arno village in Shutrana block of the district is battling to save 180-acre village common land (shamlat) from being transferred to some persons, allegedly due to complicity between land sharks and some officials of the Rural Development and Panchayat Department.

The state government has promised to probe the matter and establish the role of officials, including an IAS officer, “who acted against the department’s interest, days before retirement” and allegedly passed off the land worth over Rs 50 crore as “private”.

Members of the Arno panchayat alleged that the land was labelled as “disputed”, “not falling under the definition of shamlat as per Section 2(G) of the Punjab Village Common Lands Regulation Act, 1961”. They claimed that a Joint Development Commissioner, who retired in February, gave the decision in favour of some individuals without giving a hearing to the panchayat.

Amarjeet Kaur, counsel for the panchayat, said the then Joint Development Commissioner and his staff had adjourned the case on the scheduled date of hearing, without informing her about the next date.

“Days before the officer retired, the case was abruptly decided against us. We approached the then Financial Commissioner and got a stay on the order,” she alleged. Panchayat Secretary Rajinder Singh said, “A high-level probe is needed as these persons are not even depositing the lease money, causing losses to the state,” he said.

“In 2014-15, the land had fetched Rs 30 lakh in lease money from the individuals who claimed ownership. However, a few village residents, claiming to be migrants from Pakistan during Partition, said they were the owners and had initially taken the land on lease. We have documents to show that the land is shamlat, but the department officials have given us no opportunity to be heard,” said sarpanch Ramesh Kumar.

Rural Development and Panchayat Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa said he would order a probe by a senior officer to find out whether departmental officials had connived with land sharks.

Monday, June 5, 2017

80 encroachments on pond land razed

During rains, adjoining areas were getting flooded

Our Correspondent I Abohar, March 7

A demolition drive in progress at Khuyiansarwer village
near Abohar on Tuesday. Tribune Photo
As many as 80 houses and shops which had allegedly been constructed by encroaching upon land for village ponds were demolished in a major drive in Khuyiansarwer village today.

Naib Tehsildar Jatinderpal Singh, BDPO Dharam Pal Sharma, panchayat officer Darshan Singh and Khuyiansarwer SHO Gurveer Singh supervised the operation during which JCB machines were used. Although a heavy posse of police was deployed, there was little resistance to the drive.

Official sources said 170 families had raised illegal structures over the dry ponds resulting in flooding of adjoining areas during monsoons. The area earmarked for ponds was 68 kanal as per panchayat record but hardly 10 per cent of the same was free of encroachments.

The authorities were to submit a compliance report on this count to the High Court by April 25 but the drive had been postponed due to elections.

Notably, the HC had in February 2014 directed the state government to submit the report against encroachers of government/ panchayat land as ordered by the Supreme Court in 2011.

The SC had directed all states and UT’s to evict illegal/unauthorised occupants of gram sabha/gram panchayat/ shamlat land and restore the land to the panchayats for the common use of villagers.

Regularisation should only be permitted in exceptional cases where lease has been granted under some government notification to landless labourers or SC/ST’s or where there is already a school, dispensary or public utility on the land, the court observed. Information reveals that 125 acres of pond land in Abohar sub division had been encroached, mostly by political activists during the past decade.