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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Transfer of land: Law catches up with IAS officer who ignored rule book

Medha Gupta is 75 years old and she cited her age also as one of the reasons for seeking leniency

Chandigarh | Updated: April 8, 2014 5:11:41 pm


Despite the fact that panchayat land illegally transferred in the name of his niece was surrendered by her,Haryana IAS officer Subhash Chander Goyal,secretary,Human Rights Commission,could not escape the impact of the criminal aspect of the case. Goyal’s niece,Medha Gupta who was the beneficiary of this illegal transaction,tried to take refuge under the pretext that since she had surrendered the land in question the court directions to register FIR against her may be set aside. Medha Gupta is 75 years old and she cited her age also as one of the reasons for seeking leniency. There is no trace of Goyal after his bail was rejected and the state authorities said he might have sought leave at the level of his office.

In an order passed in September last year,the Punjab and Haryana High Court has rejected Medha Gupta’s plea for quashing the FIR on the ground that,“the impugned order records in clear and cogent terms the manner in which gram panchayat property was misappropriated.” However,the court on the ground that she was an old lady granted her an opportunity to approach the investigation agency to consider any plea she may have.

Goyal was Director,Consolidation when he allegedly transferred land measuring 120 kanal and 12 marla owned by Gram Panchayat Sehsola in district Mewat in favour of Medha Gupta,while disposing of an application under Section 42 of Consolidation Act,1948. In doing so,Goyal threw the rule book to the winds and ordered transfer of land which was totally illegal. As per Rule 5 of the Village Common Land (Regulation) Rules 1964,if a panchayat is of the opinion that it was necessary to exchange panchayat land for the benefit of the inhabitants of the village,it may transfer any land in shamlat deh exchange with land of an equivalent value (to be determined by the concerned deputy commissioner) with the prior approval of the government. Goyal while passing the order however,neither bothered to obtain prior approval nor did he get the land valued by the deputy commissioner. The rule book required that the case be routed through the deputy commissioner and even this was not done.

Goyal transferred the land on a statement of the then sarpanch of the village Shyam Lal. He also recorded the statement of another panch,R Mohammad,whereas later during investigation it was found that there was no panch by that name in the village. Ten affidavits were filed in the high court to say that the Director Consolidation had allowed exchange of land of jumla maalkan panchayat land of the inhabitants of the village with the land of his niece in misuse of power.

The high court took serious view of the entire procedure and observed,“The Director Consolidation has no authority vested by law in him to allow exchange of gram panchayat land. The exchange of land had not been allowed under the provisions of 1961 Act and rules. The facts and circumstances emanating from the record clearly indicate even commission of criminal offences including that of fraud. The Deputy Commissioner Mewat is directed to initiate criminal proceedings.” This is how Goyal was nailed and is now facing threat of arrest following cancellation of his bail by the high court.

When contacted,State chief secretary P K Chaudhery said the matter regarding sc goyal is yet to reach his level and he would take a call when it reaches the stage where state will have to take action.

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