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Land grab probe: HC slams Punjab for double standards
Tribune News Service

What the court said
The Division Bench said the Punjab Government had filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court against setting up of the Justice Kuldip Singh panel, but it had appointed a committee to implement the recommendations
The Bench said the government could have withdrawn the SLP, if it was serious about implementing the recommendations
It was also of the opinion that the government was not clear on its stand, and called for the filing of a final affidavit in the matter

Chandigarh, December 11
The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday admonished the Punjab Government once again for its double standards on probe in land grab matters.

The government made anxious attempts to wriggle out of the awkward situation by claiming that a committee had been set up to probe what had already been looked into by the Justice Kuldip Singh panel. But the motive was not to frustrate the panelís recommendations. It was, rather, meant to implement the suggestions. The attempt, nevertheless, backfired with the high court again censuring it for dual policy on the issue.

As the case came up for resumed hearing, the Division Bench of Justice Jasbir Singh and Justice Gurmeet Singh Sandhawalia reiterated that the Punjab Government had on the one hand filed a special leave petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court against the setting up of the Justice Kuldip Singh panel and on the other, it had appointed a committee to implement the recommendations.

The Bench said the government could have withdrawn the SLP, if it was serious about implementing the recommendations. The Bench was also of the opinion that the government was not clear on its stand, and called for the filing of a final affidavit in the matter.

The Bench, on the previous date of hearing, had asked the state counsel to file an affidavit stating as to whether a committee or a tribunal had been constituted, comprising officers of the state, to look into the issue being probed by the tribunal appointed by the high court. It was also asked to specify why the state was pressing SLP against the order constituting a tribunal headed by a former Supreme Court Judge, in case it had appointed a committee.

In response, the affidavit of the Financial Commissioner, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management, NS Kang, was placed before the Bench. The affidavit said the committee has been constituted panel and on the other, it had appointed a committee to implement the recommendations. The Bench said the government could have withdrawn the SLP, if it was serious about implementing the recommendations. The Bench was also of the opinion that the government was not clear on its stand, and called for the filing of a final affidavit in the matter.

The Bench, on the previous date of hearing, had asked the state counsel to file an affidavit stating as to whether a committee or a tribunal had been constituted, comprising officers of the state, to look into the issue being probed by the tribunal appointed by the high court. It was also asked to specify why the state was pressing SLP against the order constituting a tribunal headed by a former Supreme Court Judge, in case it had appointed a committee.

In response, the affidavit of the Financial Commissioner, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management, NS Kang, was placed before the Bench. The affidavit said the committee has been constituted to ensure compliance of the tribunalís recommendations, since the Supreme Court has not stayed its constitution.

The Mohali Deputy Commissioner was directed to send information on occupation of common lands in eight villages covered by the first interim report of the special tribunal.

The DC was also directed to look into the reported tampering of the revenue record of Baltana village in Dera Bassi tehsil and Majri village in Kharar tehsil. He further directed the Kharar and Dera Bassi sub divisional magistrates to send their report. The affidavit added the tribunalís second report mentioned illegal transfer and possession of public land in over 30 villages in Chandigarhís periphery. Large chunks of land were also being used for commercial purposes. To arrive at precise particulars of land encroached upon and to suggest a strategy for their retrieval, further scrutiny of revenue record was felt necessary.

It was also felt desirable to prepare inventory of public land in other villages of Mohali and ascertain the status regarding ownership and possession, with a view to take measures for retrieval of public land that might have been distributed through illegal transactions. Accordingly, it was decided by the government to constitute a committee of officers headed by the director, rural development and panchayats.

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