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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Two Wills, multiple ownership claims: Punjab and Haryana HC asks CBI to probe dispute over Rs 30-crore property

The dispute over the 6-kanal (3,094 sq yard) property in Sector 5 involves various parties and family members of the actual owner of the plot.

Written by Varinder Bhatia | Chandigarh | Updated: October 31, 2020 12:20:42 am
Chandigarh property dispute case, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab HC, CBI probe, Chandigarh news, Punjab news, Indian express newsThe property in question at Sec 5, Chandigarh. (Express photo)

A decade old property dispute in Chandigarh involving a prime plot of land worth Rs 30 crore will now be investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation. The Punjab and Haryana High Court Friday said that it was referring the matter to CBI. However, a detailed order will be given out later.

The dispute over the 6-kanal (3,094 sq yard) property in Sector 5 involves various parties and family members of the actual owner of the plot.

The division bench comprising Justice Daya Chaudhary and Justice Meenakshi I Mehta Friday said that the matter will be referred to CBI for investigation.

One of the important aspects of the multiple litigations involving the plot and a constructed house at the site are the two contentious Wills – one signed by a former Chief Justice, Justice SS Sodhi, and a leading educationist H S Mamik; and the second one signed by famous cine artiste Priya Rajvansh (Veera Sunder Singh).

Read: In HC crosshairs, prime Chandigarh property with a mystery builder and an ownership dispute

Sunder Singh, the father of Priya Rajvansh, was the actual owner of House No. 17, Sector 5. He died on May 1, 1986. Before his death, he executed a Will in favour of his three children – Kanwal Sunder Singh (a UK-based NRI who died on May 24, 2006), Padamjit Singh (a US-based NRI) and Veera Sunder Singh (Mumbai based cine artist known as Priya Rajvansh who died on March 27, 2000). This Will was signed as witnesses by Justice Sodhi and Mamik.

In another Will executed by Veera on June 16, 1994, before her death she bequeathed her share of property in two equal shares to Kanwal Sunder Singh and Padamjit Singh.

After Veera’s death, the property, subsequently stood at 50 per cent share each in favour of Padamjit Singh and Kanwal Sunder Singh.

Padamjit Singh, Kanwal Sunder Singh’s wife Mary Singh, daughter Meera Rose Sunder Singh and son Nicholas Romeen Lampen Sunder Singh and a Chandigarh-resident Pritam Kaur (whom Padamjit Singh sold his 50 per cent share of the plot) are now locked in a legal battle in the Punjab and Haryana High Court over their respective shares on the said plot.

Before his death, Kanwal Sunder Singh had filed a civil suit claiming himself to be owner of 75 per cent share (50 per cent by way of the Will executed by his father Sunder Singh plus 25 per cent by way of the Will executed by his sister Veera). He hadclaimed that Sunder Singh had bequeathed the property in equal shares in Kanwal and Veera’s favour and had excluded Padamjit. However, Padamjit Singh contested the suit.

Claims of Kanwal Sunder Singh and his heirs — based on the Will allegedly executed by his father Sunder Singh – first in the court of Civil Judge (Junior division), then in the appeal in the court of Additional District Judge, and subsequently an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court — were all dismissed by July 30, 2018.

After this, on September 25, 2018, Mary, Meera and Nicholas applied for transfer of Kanwal Sunder Singh’s 50 per cent share in their favour. It was transferred in their name. Padamjit Singh, by that time, had sold his 50 per cent share to a Chandigarh resident Pritam Kaur on the basis of a decree dated February 6, 2013 and sale deed dated November 5, 2019.

But, due to allegedly forged applications filed in the UT Estate Office on behalf of Padamjit Singh, the property could not be transferred in her name. That’s how Pritam Kaur too became a party to the case.

Amardeep Singh Brar, who claims to be a GPA holder of Mary Singh, Meera Rose and Nicholas, allegedly started raising construction on the site and a house came up on the contentious plot. Brar called it the “finishing work”.

Meanwhile, a petition was filed in the High Court by an advocate Anandeshwar Gautam on behalf of Padamjit Singh claiming that Padamjit had not sold his share to Pritam Kaur. However, Padamjit’s and Pritam Kaur’s lawyers contested Gautam’s claims and apprised the High Court that Padamjit had never engaged Anandeshwar Gautam and it was an attempted fraud played on the High Court by filing a petition using Padamjit’s name to circumvent transfer of 50 per cent share in Pritam Kaur’s name. Padamjit also filed complaints against the alleged fraud committed using his name, forging his signatures on the Vakaltnama to engage Anandeshwar Gautam.

When the new facts emerged in the High Court, Anandeshwar Gautam apprised the High Court that he filed the petition “through one Mr Kapil Khanna who is practising Taxation Lawyer”. Gautam added in the High Court that Khanna and “one of his friend” came to him for filing the petition “and the fraud, if any, is not in his knowledge”.

Gautam also offered to withdraw from the case. However, the High Court asked him to stay on, as his “assistance was necessary” in the case. The High Court also asked Gautam to hand over all the correspondence, with Khanna or anybody else to establish if he was engaged by the real Padamjit Singh, to UT’s senior standing counsel Pankaj Jain.

The High Court also asked Jain to verify the documents submitted by Anandeshwar Gautam. Jain subsequently told the High Court that the documents regarding the correspondence, if it originated from the original Padamjit Singh or not, could only be verified by some investigating agency.

“This lawyer who initially took my name in the High Court has already apprised the High Court by way of an affidavit saying that I did not engage him and I never went to him for filing the petition. In fact, this has been clarified by the lawyer in a mail sent to the Hon’ble Judges before the first hearing of the case,” Kapil Khanna told The Indian Express.

Amardeep Singh Brar was contacted by The Indian Express to seek his version. He refused to comment saying the case was sub-judice.

In another recent development, the mutation was finally registered in the name of Pritam Kaur regarding 50 per cent share (sold by Padamjit Singh to her) in the revenue records of UT Estate Office. However, she is yet to take the possession of 50 per cent share of the contentious six kanal plot.

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