Thursday, May 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Revenue officials in cahoots with land mafia
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 16
Buyers beware! The sale deed of the same piece of land can be registered twice, thrice or any number of times thanks to the nexus of revenue officials, police, property dealers and lawyers.

Most of the victims who fall prey to the nexus are non-resident Indians, illiterate and semi-literate persons or government employees who either do not know about the technicalities of revenue deals or the loopholes in the revenue rules framed during the British regime. A number of land disputes are the result of the exploitation of loopholes in the revenue rules by the nexus.

Even as muscle power is used to grab the “disputed lands”, the unscrupulous persons get the “services” of the police and politicians. Recently, at least 13 persons were injured in Sultanwind police station as the result of a land dispute. A number of persons have died due to various land disputes all over the state for which the nexus of unscrupulous persons is responsible.

A glaring example of registration of sale deeds of the same piece of plot twice has come to light. Two widowed sisters-in-law have sold the same land separately to different persons for which the revenue patwari has given certificates. In Nangli village one of the sisters-in-law, Parkash Kaur, sold four kanals of land to Narinder Singh on January 3 this year. The buyer applied for mutation in February. However, much to the surprise of the buyer the mutation of land was made by the Revenue Department in the name of the second party. The second sale deed was registered on February 15 while the mutation was done on February 24. In both the cases the Revenue Patwari had certified that the land in question was worth purchasing.

The other sale deed for the same land was done in the same village. The first sale deed was matured in the name of Gurharinder Singh and others on March 30 by Parkash Kaur while the other sale deed for the same land was done in the name of Satnam Singh through Manjit Kaur (the sister-in-law of Parkash Kaur) on February 15 on the certificate given by the revenue officials. However, Mr Rajesh Sharma, Tehsildar, who is facing a number of cases for registration of wrong sale deeds, said the buyers were at fault. or not.

Similarly, Capt Gurpreet Singh, who served as a pilot and belongs to a family of freedom fighters, has been going from pillar to post to get the mutation of his land done which he had purchased with his hard-earned money.

While confessing his ‘blunder“, the Tehsildar cancelled the ‘wrong” orders pronounced on January 11, 2001. Capt Gurpreet Singh claimed that with the connivance of all concerned Mr Rajesh Sharma indulged in violating the revenue rules to give “undue benefit” to certain persons.

The revenue officials who pleaded anonymity said Capt Gurpreet Singh and others were being “harassed” unnecessarily. Interestingly, the revenue officials have also failed to resolve cases pertaining to government land. Though Mr Sharma claimed the revenue officials could not be held responsible for the double or triple registrations of sale deeds of the same plot as the government stood benefited in the shape of revenue stamps yet the latest amendment in the Punjab Revenue Manual clearly mentions that revenue officials have to own responsibility for any wrong mutations.

Another glaring example of tampering with the revenue records came to light with the registration of an FIR against a revenue patwari. The Revenue Patwar Union, Punjab, has been on pen-down-strike for the past nine days as the union claims the tehsildar was responsible for tampering of the revenue records. Senior officials, including the district revenue officer and the SDM in their respective reports have also pointed out that the tehsildar cannot escape owning responsibility for making a wrong entry of the registered will of a deceased.

The case pertains to the registered will of Ajaib Singh, a resident of Pandori Waraich village, who had excluded his daughter-in-law and daughters from the will. However, after the death of Ajaib Singh the record which was with the tehsildar was found tampered with. Taking benefit of the alleged wrong entry in the revenue records the daughter-in-law of the deceased disposed of the disputed land to the politically connected persons. The land mafia often purchase the disputed lands for throwaway prices.

Another case in which an NRI was defrauded by a landlord has also come to light. The NRI had purchased the land in Rakh Devi Dasspura village in this district and got the sale deed registered. However, the NRI did not know that it was necessary to get the mutation of the land to become the owner. The landlord, who know the revenue loopholes, got loan from the bank for the land which he had sold to the NRI. The landlord knew that he was still owner of the land in the revenue records.

However, when the NRI came to know he was cheated by the landlord he approached senior district officials. The SDM concerned visited the site and got the mutation done in the name of the NRI. However, the bank authorities who had given loan to the landlord have been going from pillar to post to get a case registered against the landlord.

Ironically, many revenue officials have engaged the services of retired patwaris and kanungos for which they make payment from their own pockets. Sources say the new generation is not well-versed with the Persian and Urdu terminology used in revenue records and hence many such words are difficult to decode.

Sources say many land disputes arise due to lack of knowledge of Persion and Urdu by the new generation of revenue officials. Another reason for the land disputes is attributed to ignoring a lambardar at the time of maturing land deeds. Sources claim lambardars who know every inch of the land of their respective village are being ignored by the revenue officials for vested interests which leads to land disputes. The record room of the Revenue Department is also a picture of great neglect. There is need to computerise the entire revenue records of the state.

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