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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Gwal Pahari land dispute: Punjab and Haryana HC sends case back to lower court

In its verdict over a number of civil revisions and second appeals, the single bench of Justice Thakur has said that the judgment passed by the Additional District Judge is “incomprehensible”.

Published: November 30, 2019 1:36:15 pm
Punjab and Haryana HC Punjab and Haryana High Court.

More than a year after a Gurgaon court ruled that more than 464.4 acres of prized land in Gwal Pahari village belongs to the local municipal corporation, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has set aside the decision and remanded the matter back to the lower court for a fresh decision while also restraining the parties from alienating or creating any third party rights on the land.

“Since the matter is of great importance and as a huge chunk of land involving a large number of litigants are involved, it is desirable that these appeals are taken up for hearing and decided by the District Judge, Gurugram, himself, expeditiously,” the order passed by Justice Jaishree Thakur reads, adding, the parties are directed to appear before the district judge on December 18.

The verdict by an Additional District Judge on the land controversy between Haryana and around 118 private parties had divested many top Special Economic Zone (SEZ) developers, property dealers and a number of prominent personalities like retired high court judges and the family of a former Chief Justice of India, of any right over the land.

The civil appeal decision of August 2018 against a civil court order, which had declared that the land belongs to private parties, had marked an end to a decades-long dispute in the National Capital Region and also led to culmination of a series of litigations over controversial mutations ordered right since 1950s till 2017.

In its verdict over a number of civil revisions and second appeals, the single bench of Justice Thakur has said that the judgment passed by the Additional District Judge is “incomprehensible” while noting that the court is unable to understand how ‘plaintiffs’ in the proceedings before the revenue authorities could be termed appellants in the appeal proceedings too. The court has also highlighted other technical flaws in decision-making by the the Additional District Judge.

On the appellate court’s decision to take a decision on an already decided decree of 1980s, the court has said, “This again shows lack of knowledge of the law and the procedure to be adopted, while deciding the cases. The irregularity and the illegality committed by the Additional District Judge, which is apparent on the face of record, while passing the impugned judgment and decree cannot be sustained in law”.

“The first Appellate Court ought to have given due opportunity to the petitioners and the other affected parties to lead evidence in rebuttal, particularly when the stakes of the parties, involving a huge chunk of land, was high,” reads the judgement, adding, “consequently, since all the parties, be it the landowners or the municipal corporation are aggrieved against the judgment and decree, the revisions as well as the Regular Second Appeals are allowed”.

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