Probe IAS officer who benefited from own order: Tribunalhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/probe-ias-officer-who-benefited-from-own-order-tribunal/

Probe IAS officer who benefited from own order: Tribunal

Properties in periphery ‘Officer first ordered return of shamlat deh land,later purchased around 6 acres from owners’

Properties in periphery ‘Officer first ordered return of shamlat deh land,later purchased around 6 acres from owners’

For his abuse of power and “benefiting” from an illegal order passed by him,the Judicial Tribunal,probing illegal properties owned by high-ups in city’s periphery,has recommended “investigation” and “suitable action” against a Punjab IAS officer.

Consider this: As the then Director Consolidation of Holdings,Kuldip Singh Minhas not only,as per the tribunal,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 Minhas was one of the original landowners,the revenue records were “interpolated”.

Shocked at the conduct of the officer,the tribunal has indicted Minhas,now retired,and recommended that the land in question be returned to the Gram Panchayat. The land falls at Bartana village on the periphery of Chandigarh. “The land which has been virtually given to the Patidars (landowners) by an order which is a nullity should be redeemed and handed over to the Nagar Panchayat,” reads the 42-page interim report of the tribunal.

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During its probe,the tribunal,comprising Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh,advocates P N Aggarwal and Babu Ram Gupta,also found that in order to cover up the fraud,“interpolations” were done in the original revenue records. To make it appear that Minhas was one of the original landowners and that he did not purchase it after passing the order,his name was entered into the revenue records as one of the original landowners.

Investigation was done by the tribunal in relation to the land acquired by Minhas,his son Gurmohan Singh and their relations.

The land in dispute was shown as shamlat deh in the jamabandi of the year 1950-51. Records for the year 1959-60 show the land belonging to Nagar Panchayat. In 1951-52,the total area of panchayat land was 1,489 bighas 14 biswas.

On May 9,1985,Kuldip Singh Minhas,Director Consolidation of Holdings,Punjab,ordered that the said land,belonging to the panchayat be distributed amongst the landowners as per their shares. The order was passed after a section of landowners had approached Minhas for release of land which vested with the Gram Panchayat.

Shocked,the tribunal has recorded that the officer “had no jurisdiction” to entertain any petitioner under Section 42 of the Consolidation Act. Observing that shamlat deh land could not have been returned,the inquiry report reads that “the order is without jurisdiction,illegal and is a nullity. The order is liable to be ignored”.

Another glaring irregularity pointed out by the tribunal is that Minhas ordered that the “mutation on the basis of which the land was shown under the ownership of the Gram Panchayat should be ignored”.

The report,which was submitted to the High Court last week,reads: “The Director Consolidation,who ordered distribution of shares,himself became the beneficiary under his own order. We have personally seen the mutation register. There is no separate entry of ownership in the name of Kuldip Singh and his son and no separate mutation has been registered.”

The report adds that “the only entry is at page 14 of the mutation register,the entry showing the names of Kuldip Singh and his son as purchasers has been shown in different ink and prima facie seems to have been interpolated”. The six acres of land purchased by the director was sold further.

HC grants four months’ extension to tribunal

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has requested the tribunal to continue with its probe and has extended its term by four months. The High Court order was made available on Monday. Initially,the High Court had given four months’ time to the tribunal to carry out its investigations and had made it clear that the tribunal could seek extension. In its interim report,the tribunal had submitted that it would take long time to peruse records of over 300 villages. Also,the High Court has asked the Punjab government to “probe feasibility of implementing the measures suggested by the Tribunal”.