Days after it directed the principal secretary, local bodies, Punjab, to remain present in court for the next hearing in a land dispute case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court is scheduled to hear the case on Friday. The case involves the acquisition of land by the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, allegedly without payment of any compensation.
Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, Vivek Pratap Singh, who had appeared before the high court in the matter, had “sought for some time to consult a good civil lawyer and give his views/opinions on the said issue”. Singh gave his undertaking despite the municipal corporation already being represented by advocate Ashok Kumar Bazaz.
The high court is hearing an appeal filed by Dharam Singh and others in 2019. They have challenged Ludhiana Municipal Corporation’s action of not handing over the possession of their land measuring 304 square yards, which was acquired in 1998. The municipal corporation, though, had claimed that the aforesaid land was taken over for a public purpose. However, no award as per the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 had been passed.
During the hearing on April 27, in response to a query raised by the high court, the counsel representing the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation and others had failed to put forth any justifiable explanation with regard to the vesting of title in the municipal corporation.
The bench of Justice Anil Kshetarpal had thus ordered that the Ludhiana municipal commissioner appear in person to assist the court and the case was adjourned to May 11.
When the matter came up for hearing on May 11, Dr Ankur Mahindroo, joint commissioner of the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, appeared. The high court observed, “Despite the best efforts of the court to impress upon the local body to take appropriate steps, no action has been taken yet. The officiating commissioner is present in court. He also has no clue in the matter. Keeping in view the aforesaid facts, this court is left with no choice but to request the additional chief secretary of the local bodies to be present in court on 13.05.2022.”
In pursuance of the May 11 order, Principal Secretary, Local Bodies, Vivek Partap Singh appeared in court as the concerned officials and Bazaz failed to justify their stand of taking possession of the appellants’ land in 1998 without payment of any compensation till date.
Seeking an adjournment in the case, Vivek Partap Singh prayed for “some time to consult a good civil lawyer and give his views/opinions on the said issue.”
On the official’s plea, Justice Kshetarpal adjourned the matter for May 20 and ordered, “The officer is requested to remain present on the next date of hearing.”