Punjab told to submit action taken on Justice Kuldip Singh Tribunal report

The Punjab and Haryana high court has sought details of action taken by the Punjab government on the report submitted by the Justice Kuldip Singh Tribunal on grabbing of shamlat land in Chandigarh’s periphery.

The order came from the bench of justice AG Masih and justice Sandeep Moudgil, while posting the matter to July 18 for further hearing.

Ten years ago, the high court had appointed a three-member panel headed by justice Kuldip Singh (retd), a former Supreme Court judge, in May 2012, following a 2007 petition that alleged grabbing of village common land and forest land in villages of Mohali district around Chandigarh.

The tribunal’s reports thereon had named several politicians, police officials and bureaucrats for grabbing panchayat land in violation of the Periphery and Forest Acts that prohibit the sale of village common land and forest land.

It had scanned records of 38 Mohali villages and found fault in nearly 35,000 sale deeds of property, through which nearly 25,000 acres were illegally occupied.

The HC order comes at a time when the Bhagwant Mann-led Punjab government has launched a drive to free thousands of acres of government land in the state. It has asked all people illegally possessing government or panchayat land to immediately hand it over to the government by May 31.

During the resumed hearing on Wednesday, the state’s counsel had sought time to file the status report with regard to the pending cases and also to suggest a fresh list of three officers for consideration of the amicus curaie, ML Sarin, a senior advocate, for appointment as collectors.

The court directed that the names be forwarded within two weeks. As of the status report, the government has been granted four weeks to submit a status report to the amicus curaie.

In 2018, the high court had constituted a panel of officers to examine the sale deeds. The officers included Rahul Tiwari, the then divisional commissioner, Rupnagar, and Tanu Kashyap, the then joint development commissioner, as commissioners; and Amardeep Singh Bains, the then deputy director (Revenue) and Hardial Singh Chatha, the then additional deputy commissioner (D), Fatehgarh Sahib, as collectors. They were to hear the pending as well as fresh appeals against the grabbing of village common land and forest land, and were to be assisted by a panel of 59 lawyers, who were to represent the panchayats.

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