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Posted at: Feb 12, 2019, 6:57 AM; last updated: Feb 12, 2019, 10:29 AM (IST)

Pathankot trust sits on HC order, former judge in dilemma

Pathankot trust sits on HC order, former judge in dilemma

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11

Nearly 18 months have lapsed since the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed Pathankot Improvement Trust to take a final decision in a four-decade old land acquisition matter, which generated legal controversy. But Justice RK Mahajan is still waiting for the order to be complied with.

A Judge of the Himachal Pradesh High Court and the Allahabad High Court for more than three years, 82-year-old Justice Mahajan has now initiated contempt proceedings against IAS officer Neelima Kumari and another respondent.

Taking up the petition filed through counsel Jagvinder Singh Santwal, Justice Nirmaljit Kaur has issued notice to the respondents to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated.

Santwal’s says neither the land’s possession was taken, nor compensation paid; and the landowners’ right to enjoy the property remained curtailed for last four decades. The case has its genesis in land acquisition proceedings initiated in late 70s or early 80s by the Pathankot Improvement Trust for setting up a timber market and truck union, a project that remained incomplete.

As an aftermath, affected landlords moved the High Court against the acquisition notification, which was eventually quashed by the High Court. But that was not the end. The improvement trust moved the Supreme Court, which upheld the notification.

Santwal’s submission on behalf of Justice Mahajan is that nothing really happened even after that, resulting in another round of litigation. A petition filed in the mid 90s was eventually decided by the High Court in 2002.

Santwal’s assertion is the Bench was of the opinion that the matter was required to be reconsidered as land of those constructing structures during the operation of stay orders was released, while of others who restrained themselves from raising constructions was not released.

Justice Mahajan and other petitioners moved the High Court in 2012, this time for a direction to the respondents to decide their representation dated February 21, 2011. Directions were also sought to frame a policy in terms of instructions issued by the High Court in October, 2010, on an appeal filed in 2006 by Justice Mahajan.

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