Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked the state of Punjab to explain why the acquisition of land for a road to Punjab IAS-PCS Officers’ Cooperative Housing Building Society Limited was being carried out at public expense, while the initial notification said the work would be executed at the expense of the society. Road construction over a petitioner’s piece of land was also directed to be kept in abeyance.
In all, the Bench of Justice Jaswant Singh and Justice Sant Parkash posed six queries “keeping in view the nature of dispute involved and to have transparency and accountability in matters affecting the state exchequer”. The Bench asked the Secretary, Punjab Department of Housing and Urban Development, to file an affidavit in response to the queries.
The directions came on an application alleging that the second approach road to the residential society at state expense was mala fide exercise of power by influential officials of the Punjab Government.
The Bench was hearing arguments on landowner Gurmeet Singh’s plea for restraining the respondents from laying down the road through his land in Mullanpur Garibdass for alleged public purpose of constructing another approach road. His counsel contended that a 22-foot-wide approach road to the residential society was already in existence.
The Bench also asked the Secretary to explain whether then Secretary SS Sandhu was in any manner involved either himself, through his family or immediate relative at any point of time from the purchase of the land till date.
The Bench asked for the reason and basis for issuing a notification dated July 8, 2011, stating that the acquisition would take place at the expense of the society and on what basis and for what reason it was changed vide a corrigendum to read “public expense”.
Details were also sought regarding the status of the road, and whether it was part of the original master plan. If not a part, at what stage was the road planned and on what basis was the modification/amendment to the master plan carried out to include the road.
The Secretary was also asked to explain how the 22-foot-wide road leading to the society was depicted in the master/development plan. The Bench also sought details of the procedure involved in dealing with objections under Section 5-A to a declaration under Section 6 of the Land Acquisition Act, and whether any officer having interest in the society himself or through his family was part of the dealing of the acquisition proceedings.
The Bench also asked for details of landowners and farmers affected by the land acquisition for the road catering to the society and the number of residential units planned/sanctioned for society members.
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