About 60 VVIPs, including CM Badal and DGP Sumedh Saini, have acquired property in Mohali district
Saurabh Malik, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, May 29. In a move that could spell trouble for politicians, bureaucrats and top cops involved in grabbing land across Punjab, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the constitution of a three-member tribunal.
Headed by former Judge of the Supreme Court Justice Kuldip Singh, the tribunal would look into land-grab cases not just in Nayagaon and other villages on the Chandigarh periphery, but in the entire Punjab. Senior advocate P N Aggarwal, known for his knowledge about land-related matters, has been made the other member of the tribunal. The third member, a retired Sessions Judge, is yet to be appointed.
The directions are significant as the issue of influential persons acquiring land in Mohali district has been under the high court scanner since 2007. Punjab had, on a previous date of hearing, informed the Bench that about 60 influential persons, including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and DGP Sumedh Singh Saini, had acquired property in the area.
Issuing directions in an open court this morning, the Bench of Acting Chief Justice MM Kumar and Justice Alok Singh also set a four-month deadline for the completion of the probe. The Bench, however, gave the tribunal the liberty to seek additional time after taking into consideration the enormity of the task.
The panel would identify whether land transferred to and acquired by individuals, top politicians, bureaucrats and cops, was at any point in time, public, shamlat, forest or nazul land. The tribunal would also probe as to how the ownership of such land was changed or mutated into private ownership.
Stressing on the need for constituting the tribunal, the Bench minced no words to verbally observe that a fair probe by a statutory functionary could not be expected, when the names of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and DGP Sumedh Singh Saini figured in the list of 60 influential persons possessing land in Mohali.
Before parting with the order, the Bench also directed the Punjab Government to provide necessary infrastructure, required staff and office space for the tribunal within two weeks.
The case hovers around the acquisition of properties by the high-ups in Nayagaon and its vicinity. The matter was brought to the high court’s notice by Nayagaon resident Kuldip Singh.
Accusing a senior police functionary in a land-grab bid in Nayagaon, he had sought protection, while praying for registration of an FIR and a CBI probe into the dealings. The inquiry was entrusted to Additional Director-General of Police Chandrasekhar, after Justice Ranjit Singh of the high court took cognisance of the matter.
Justice Ranjit Singh asked the ADGP to lay emphasis on Nayagaon, Zirakpur, Mohali, Kansal and the Koraran area. The Judge added: “It would also need investigation to see as to what is the source of acquisition.”
During the hearing of the case, Punjab had given a clean chit to its high and the mighty. The state claimed “except in seven cases, the land in possession of all other individuals was never government/public land”.
Questioning the veracity of the assertion, the Bench made clear its intention of directing for an independent probe through a tribunal or commission.