Properties in periphery: Punjab clean chit to majority of higher-upshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/chandigarh/properties-in-periphery-punjab-clean-chit-to-majority-of-higherups/

Properties in periphery: Punjab clean chit to majority of higher-ups

HC appoints amicus curiae to know whether probe shall be handed over to judicial panel.

HC appoints amicus curiae to know whether probe shall be handed over to judicial panel.

The Punjab government has given a clean chit to the majority of the higher-ups in the case pertaining to properties allegedly illegally owned by them in the periphery of Chandigarh. Except seven persons who were in the possession of government/public land,the Punjab government has submitted that “land in possession of all other individuals was never government/public land”.

This was submitted by the Punjab government to the Punjab and Haryana High Court during the resumed hearing of a PIL filed by Kuldip Singh,a Nayagaon resident,on Thursday. He had demanded action against the higher-ups who have grabbed land in the periphery of the city. The Punjab government had conducted a probe against 60 higher-ups,including chief minister Parkash Singh Badal,Director General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini who own land in the city’s periphery.

The government’s report along with an affidavit of Chief Secretary Rakesh Singh states that in the case of these seven VIPs,shamlat deh/shamlat deh hasab rasad jar khewat has been mutated in favour of the VIP either directly or through a series of buyers and sellers. The list has the names of retired IAS officer J S Kesar,former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai,retired DSP Surjit Singh,daughter-in-law of Balwant Singh Ramoowalia Surjit Kaur,retired Chandigarh SP Baldev Singh,DSP Mukhtiar Singh in joint ownership with another police officer Gurmeet Singh,and Daljit Singh Dhillon,the son of Lal Singh,a retired IAS.

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Making a special mention of the land owned by DGP Saini and State Election Commissioner Shivinder Singh Brar,the government told the HC that the land owned by these two at Kansal village was “mushtakan malkan rasab hasad rakba khewat” — a category which does not fall in the categories listed by the High Court of forest/ nazool/ shamlat/ municipal/ government land.

The affidavit reads,“In the case of three persons,Sumedh Singh Saini,Shivinder Singh Brar and Harjinder Singh,the land in question was jumla mushtarkan malkan hasab rasad rakba khewat created at the time of consolidation in 1971 by imposing a pro-rata cut on the landowners. Thereafter,vide order dated January 16,1986,of the consolidation officer,Ropar,the khewat was dismantled and shares were apportioned to individual properties. The three persons mentioned have purchased the land from original landowners. These properties as per the revenue records were never vested in the ownership of the forest/ nazool/ shamlat/ municipal/ government land.”

Harjinder Singh is said to be related closely to Congress MLA from Ferozepur Parminder Singh Pinky.

The management of the mushtakan malkan rasab hasad rakba khewat vests with the village panchayat under sections 18 and 23 of The East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act,1948. All earnings accruing from the mushtakan malkan rasab hasad rakba khewat also go to the panchayat. Division and subsequent sale of jumla mushtarkan malkan land is illegal under the The East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation) Act,1948. Any such land deal amounts to the buyer having committed fraud with the village panchayat which is the custodian of all such lands. As per the affidavit,the land owned by Sumedh Singh Saini jointly with his brother Dinesh Singh,IAS,at Sohana village has been acquired by PUDA.

A division bench asked the Punjab government if its investigating agencies would be able to probe the case fairly when its senior functionaries were under the scanner.

To ascertain as to whether the probe shall be handed over to a judicial commission,headed by a retired judge,the HC on Thursday appointed an amicus curiae,senior lawyer Arun Jain,who has been asked to submit his opinion as to whether the probe shall be handed over to the judicial commission. The case will now come up for resumed hearing on May 21.