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The Intelligence Bureau (IB) has approached the Supreme Court to establish the rights of one of its units over a property in Assam from where it has operated an office since 1961. The agency maintains that the plot and the house in Tezpur was left to the Subsidiary Intelligence Bureau (SIB) in a will by a woman who died 21 years ago.
A bench of Justices J S Khehar and Arun Mishra agreed to hear the IB, through the Union of India, and admitted its appeal recently. “The applications for seeking permission to bring on record additional facts and documents on record are allowed, subject to all just exceptions. Delay condoned. Issue notice,” the bench stated.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh appeared for the IB. He has to argue over three hearings to convince the bench why this matter needs to be heard by the Supreme Court although the intelligence agency has lost its case three times in the subordinate courts in the last 12 years.
The ASG assured the bench that the IB had concrete evidence to establish its right over the property and to get the findings by lower courts and the Gauhati High Court set aside.
The IB was allowed by landlady Punya Prabha Hazarika to operate from Uttarayan, the house in Tezpur, as a tenant and it paid rent for use of the property. The landlady had a son who died before her and a daughter who lived in the UK.
According to records of the case, Punya Prabha moved to the UK to live with her daughter. She executed a will there, bequeathing her properties to the daughter and one Surjya Hazarika. While Surjya, who was orphaned during World War II, claimed he had been adopted by the landlady, the IB disputed this, arguing he was only looked after by the woman and her husband.
The IB contended that the owner had in fact bequeathed the property to them after the death of her daughter and that Surjya had forged documents to claim a right to the land.
The legal battle began in 2004 when the IB sought to raise further constructions on the land and Surjya, armed with a power of attorney from the landlady’s daughter, approached a local civil court to restrain officials and their agents from altering the permanent structures.