Martyr’s kin struggle for plot’s ownership transfer; High Court raps Punjab for ‘apathy, callousness’ : The Tribune India

Martyr’s kin struggle for plot’s ownership transfer; High Court raps Punjab for ‘apathy, callousness’

Plot was allotted in 1974

Martyr’s kin struggle for plot’s ownership transfer; High Court raps Punjab for ‘apathy, callousness’

Punjab and Haryana High Court

Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik

Chandigarh, September 21

More than 50 years after Army personnel Mohinder Singh laid down his life during the India-Pakistan war, his family is fighting a different battle. Despite communications by the then Prime Minister, the unit’s Commanding Officer and other dignitaries, the martyr’s family is struggling for an allotted plot’s ownership transfer.

Taking cognisance of the “apathy and callousness”, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has now directed the placing of the matter before the Punjab Chief Secretary for “appropriate action by proper coordination between departments concerned”. The Director, Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, has also been directed to remain present on the next date of hearing.

The direction by the Bench of Justice Lisa Gill and Justice Harsh Bunger came after the state and other respondents “chose to file a reply repudiating the limited claim” for proper conveyance of three biswa of land duly handed over to the martyr’s father in 1974, on which a house had been constructed.

As the petition by Sarbjit Singh through counsel CS Bagri came up for resumed hearing, the Bench observed the laying down of life by the petitioner’s brother while serving the nation was not denied. The land was also admittedly handed over the martyr’s father in 1974, pursuant to a gram panchayat resolution.

The martyr’s father went from pillar to post for the ownership’s transfer and other benefits till his death in 2006, after which his brother pursued the matter. A resolution was yet again passed by the gram panchayat on February 5, 2016. Exhausted of the “tall empty claims”, the petitioner restricted his claim to transfer of the plot’s ownership.

The Bench asserted: “When still no action was taken, it was directed on July 7 that a decision be taken by the government/competent authority within six weeks… Last opportunity was afforded to the state on August 31 to inform the court about the decision so taken”.

The Bench added a final decision had still not been taken. But a reply was sought to be filed in an “audacious manner” wherein even the restricted claim was being repudiated on specious ground.

Describing it as a “matter of anguish”, the Bench asserted a letter was written by the then Prime Minister on the drawing up of some schemes by the Union and state governments with a hope to ease the family’s path in the “moment of sore trial”. The martyr’s father was also asked to feel free to contact in case of any difficulty or delay in getting the benefit of the schemes.

He was also told that the function of the Citizens’ Central Council was to help the families of jawans and officers, who had sacrificed their lives for the country. Letters by other dignitaries were also on record and not denied. But were “clearly of cold comfort to the martyr’s family”.

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