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Punjab to re-open cases of fraud,to take action against govt officers

Properties in periphery State agrees to constitute a special bench in the High Court to monitor such cases.

Written by Express News Service | Chandigarh | Published: April 30, 2013 4:52 am

Properties in periphery State agrees to constitute a special bench in the High Court to monitor such cases.

Opposing the Judicial Tribunal’s recommendation for a CBI probe into the alleged illegal properties owned by high-ups in the periphery,the Punjab government has agreed to “re-open” cases of fraud.

“Action will be taken against officers/officials of the Revenue and Consolidation Departments who are found to be involved,” the state has said.

This was conveyed to the Punjab and Haryana High Court by Punjab in response to a status report filed by the Judicial Tribunal,headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh,probing illegal properties owned by influential people including bureaucrats and politicians in the periphery. The report,recommending a CBI probe,was submitted last week by the tribunal.

An affidavit was filed on Monday by Financial Commissioner (Revenue) N S Kang. The case of fraud to be “re- opened” will be heard by the High Court. The tribunal,in its preliminary probe,had found several instances involving fraud played by government authorities in connivance with private parties.

In one of such cases,the tribunal had indicted former Director Consolidation of Holdings,Punjab. The then director not only passed an illegal order by returning shamlat deh land to the landowners but also later purchased around six acres of land from two owners. To top it all,to make it appear that the director was one of the original landowners,the revenue records were “interpolated”. The tribunal had recommended action against the retired IAS officer,Kuldip Singh Minhas.

The state has also agreed to the tribunal’s suggestion regarding constitution of a special bench in the High Court to monitor the cases in such matters.

Also,as recommended by the tribunal,“special officers with powers of State government under Section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act,1948 and powers of the Collector will be appointed for each district to deal with cases relating to illegal occupation,acquisition and alienation etc of mushtarka malkan lands and shamlat/panchayat lands respectively”.

Petitions filed under the above Acts,whether pending or filed in future,will be heard by these officers.

However,the state has submitted that it “is not felt necessary” to appoint special commissioners to hear appeals/revisions against orders of the special district-level officers “since the Divisional Commissioners already posted are mainly engaged in disposal of quasi-judicial cases under various land laws”.

Appeals/revisions against orders of the special officers will also be heard by them. “Commissioners will be directed to dispose of these cases on priority and in a time-bound manner,” the state has decided.

The suggestion for appointment of a special attorney for each district will be implemented by the government. The tribunal had recommended that the loss incurred on account of land frauds be recovered from private parties and errant officials. In response,the state has submitted that “the suggestion regarding dispossession and recovery of mense profits from those who are shown in possession in terms of the latest jamabandi entries is being examined. A survey to determine the nature and extent of such possessions might be necessary. The policy to be finalised in this behalf will be submitted to the High Court in due course”.

Taking the affidavit on record,the High Court adjourned the case to July 3 for arguments.

‘No occasion for CBI probe’

“The Vigilance Bureau has reported that no criminal case regarding illegal alienation/possession of public lands in the periphery of Chandigarh has been registered. Hence there is no occasion to entrust the investigation into such cases to the CBI or any other such authority,” reads the response of the Punjab government.

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