GOVERNMENT OF PUNJAB DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE & REHABILITATION (POLICY LEGAL BRANCH) ORDER
The matter herein pertains to allotment of land to Avtar Singh alias Kartar Singh in lieu of the land alleged to have been left by his father Harnam Singh S/o Beer Singh who migrated from village Madaniwala Bhawalpur (Pakistan). On his migration from Pakistan Harnam Singh got himself and his family members registered as refugee migrants in the office of District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar.
2. The facts of the case are that Sh.Harnam Singh submitted an application on 22.12.1953 which was countersigned by Tehsildar Phillaur on the same date whereafter it was presented to the Managing Officer of Distt.Sri Ganganagar. There he was allotted land vide order dated 14.5.1955 and possession was also given. However it had been recorded that the applicant Shri Harnam Singh had not produced Claim Assessment Order and he was given time to produce the same upto 25.7.1955. However, Sh.Harnam Singh could not produce the claim assessment order or any other document before the competent authority in Rajasthan in support of his claim for allotment. Later on. Sh.Kartar Singh claiming himself to be the son of Harnam Singh made an application to the District Rehabilitation Officer Sri Ganganagar on 4.3.1980 in which he staked his claim as claimant allottee inspite of his failure to produce any evidence in support of his claim. It follows that from 11.7.1955 to 4.3.1980 i.e. for 25 years neither Harnam Singh nor Kartar Singh was able to produce any evidence in support of their claim. Therefore, the allotment was converted into an allotment for price and an amount of Rs. 42,452/- was shown to be due against the non-claimant allottee.
3. In the records of District Rehabilitation Office, Sri Ganganagar another application dated 17.4.1989 was discovered in which the applicant had himself stated that for non-payment of price of land a Receiver had been appointed. He further submitted that he was ready to pay the amount due. He requested for removal of the Receiver and made a prayer that he may not be dispossessed from the land. allotted to him as non-claimant.
4. What happened with the claim of Harnam Singh in Rajasthan in the early fifties was mischievously suppressed and concealed from the Rehabilitation Authorities in the State of Punjab and in 1957 Harnam Singh was allotted land in village Walipur Tehsil Jagraon as a claimant which was later on cancelled; as per own admission of claimant in 1963.
Nineteen years later, vide an application dated 27.7.82 one Avtar Singh ( Kartar Singh) claiming to be son of Harnam Singh filed a claim for allotment before the Managing Officer (Headquarters). This application is significant in its contents. It merely stated that in lieu of land in the name of Harnam Singh son of Vir Singh in village ‘Madanian Wali’ in Bahawalpur State allotment had been made in Walipur Tehsil Jagroan District Ludhiana and possession was also obtained on the spot and Khasra Girdawari entries had also been made. Now the land had been disposed of to some other person “without any order of cancellation”. Harnam Singh had died and the petitioner was his son and legal heir. Further that Harnam Singh had made an application for the change of allotment because the land was in river bed but nothing had been heard. It was prayed that the petitioner be allowed allotment as per entitlement. No area or year of allotment was mentioned. The Managing Officer sought information from the Tehsildar Jagraon who attached a report of Patwari stating that the area allotted to Harnam Singh had been cancelled on 27.3.63.
The claim was thereafter rejected by the Managing Officer on 27.6.83 on account of being time barred. However it was recorded that the file on which area was reported to have been cancelled was not traceable in record despite many efforts to search it. It was also recorded that as per version of Avtar Singh and his counsel the land was cancelled as a case of double allotment. An appeal against rejection of claim went upto the Chief Sales Commissioner and the case was remanded twice. Ultimately, the M.O.allotted land measuring 38-13¼ St.Acres on 18.12.89 to Kartar Singh alias Avtar Singh. At the time of passing the said order one Shri Amir Singh General Attorney of Avtar Singh had been appearing before the Managing Officer. The allotment and cancellation file had not been traced but the Managing Officer accepted the unsubstantiated version of the applicant that cancellation was wrongly made on account of its being treated as a case of double allotment. He was swayed by the fact that land in Rajasthan had been purchased. A suo-motu reference against this allotment was accepted by the Chief Sales Commissioner vide his order dated 28.11.1990 and the allotment was set aside. A revision against the said order by Avtar Singh claiming to be the son of Harnam Singh was filed before Financial Commissioner who remanded the case vide order dated 8.9.1993 with directions for fresh decision after hearing all the parties and after confirming the position from Rajasthan Govt.
5. Eventually the Managing Officer made a fresh allotment of 38-13¼ S.As to Harnam Singh vide his order dated 15.7.1996. Consequently goshwara was issued and the same was sent to M.O.(Hqrs) for reverification. It was in this background that certain irregularities, which are discussed in para 9 below, came to notice and the matter was put up before me and I directed the petitioner to be called for hearing.
Meanwhile, a writ petition No.1979/2000 had been filed by Avtar Singh alias Kartar Singh through his Attorney Smt. Mukhtiar Kaur in the Hon'ble High Court of Punjab & Haryana seeking directions for allotment of land. It was disposed of vide order dated 12.2.2001 with the direction that the matter regarding allotment of land to Avtar Singh shall be decided on or before 7.4.2001.
6. Initially on 19.2.2001 only Mukhtiar Kaur presented herself, whereas intimation had been duly sent to Avtar Singh also by Registered post. Smt. Mukhtiar Kaur stated that Avtar Singh could not come because of indisposition though he had received the notice. The matter was adjourned to 28.2.2001 and Smt. Mukhtiar Kaur was asked to produce Avtar Singh on that date. On 28.2.2001 a person stating to be Kartar Singh alias Tar Singh appeared. As mentioned above, in the High Court the Writ Petition was filed on behalf of Avtar Singh alias Kartar Singh, and earlier applications also went primarily by the name of Avtar Singh and not Tar Singh. To obtain a clear picture regarding the claim, the statements of both the said Kartar Singh and Mukhtiar Kaur were got recorded.
7. I have carefully gone through the relevant record and have examined the statements of Kartar Singh alias Tar Singh and his General Attorney Mukhtiar Kaur. Unfortunately they have not been successful in making any improvement in the claim for allotment of land in lieu of the land alleged to have been abandoned by Harnam Singh in Pakistan. The statement of Kartar Singh alias Tar Singh recorded on 28.2.2001 is absolutely vague and does not help him in any manner. He has stated that originally his father was allotted land in Phillaur, District Jalandhar but the allotment was cancelled. He states that thereafter, his father was allotted land in village Walipur Tehsil Jagraon District Ludhiana the possession of which was taken and his father continued to get theka for that land or continued to cultivate that land for 3 years. Later on they could not look after that land and continued to reside in Rajasthan. The said land was later on allotted to somebody else as they had abandoned that land. His father was allotted land in Rajasthan also but he had to make payment amounting to Rs. 46,000/ for the same. He stated that he had made a fresh application some where in 1982 but does not recall whether he was asked to bring any evidence in support of his claim. He admits now to having a sister Naseeb Kaur. He states that now he is in possession of 24 ½ bighas of land in Rajasthan which is under his cultivation. He does not remember having staked his claim for allotment of 30 acres of land before District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar on 4.3.80 as claimant allottee. He further stated that land measuring 46 bighas had been allotted in Sri Ganganagar out of which they obtained possession of 24 ½ bighas of land for which payment had been made. He admitted that no mention was made regarding the land allotted in Rajasthan while making the application for allotment in Punjab. He could not produce any documentary evidence regarding reasons for cancellation of allotment of land in village Walipur. He admitted that he had no order regarding the said cancellation in his possession and was not aware whether his father filed any appeal against the same. He states that the responsibility for producing any papers required is of Mukhtiar Kaur (his General Attorney).
Mukhtiar Kaur, who claimed herself be the General Attorney of Avtar Singh (now Kartar Singh alias Tar Singh) stated that she had been given full authority to pursue the case regarding allotment. She had been given Power of Attorney in 1993. She does not know if Harnam Singh had made any application for allotment of land in Sri Ganganagar in lieu of land abandoned in Pakistan nor does she know anything regarding allotment of land to Harnam Singh against payment. She is not aware of cancellation of land allotted to Harnam Singh in village Walipur in Tehsil Jagraon.
8. It is noticed that the Managing Officer adjudged the entitlement of allotment of 38-13¼ SAs in the name of Avtar Singh son of Harnam Singh vide his order dated 15.7.96. This order was purportedly made in compliance with FCR's order dated 8.9.93 wherein he had directed the Managing Officer to hear all the parties and confirm the position from Rajasthan Govt. However the said order dated 15.7.1996 is based solely on a letter dated 13.9.95 received from the District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar intimating that the allotment made in the name of Harnam Singh son of Vir Singh in village 16/17 H, Tehsil Karanpur, District Sri Ganganagar was as non-claimant and on payment of price. No further details were given nor asked for. Total reliance was placed on this brief information and complete facts were never collected by the Managing Officer from the District Rehabilitation Office, Sri Ganganagar.
When the case came for reverification the matter was investigated and an officer of the department was deputed to collect documents maintained in the office of District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar. These documents bring out the following facts:-
Harnam Singh son of Beer Singh on migration from village Madhaniwala, Bahawalpur(Pakistan) had got himself registered with District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar to claim allotment in lieu of the land abandoned by him in village Madhaniwala, Bahawalpur (Pakistan). Accordingly he was allotted 46½ bighas of land vide order dated 14.5.1955 of the Managing Officer, Sri Ganganagar in village 16/17 H in Tehsil Karanpur.
This Harnam Singh gave an application on 22.12.1953, which was countersigned by Tehsildar Phillaur on 23.12.1953 and it was presented to the Managing Officer of District Sri Ganganagar on which it is recorded that the applicant (Harnam Singh) had not produced Claim Assessment Order. He was given time to produce this order upto 25th July,1955.
Twenty five years later one Kartar Singh claiming to be son of Harnam Singh gave an application to District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar on 4.3.1980 in which he claimed that he was a claimant allottee. The perusal of the noting of the office of District Rehabilitation Office, Sri Ganganagar reveals that the said applicant Kartar Singh could produce no evidence in support of his claim nor the claim application form was available. The relevant noting of the official of the District Rehabilitation Office, Sri Ganganagar reads as follows:-
The account sheet on the basis of the received PUC has been prepared which is because of non-availability of claim assessment form. (not legible) has been prepared on which Rs.42452/- are due. The applicant has produced nothing in proof of his claim and there is no extract available in the file."
(Translated from Hindi to English)
This noting was made on 4.3.1980, and the same was approved by the competent authority on 22.4.80. These facts clearly prove that neither Harnam Singh nor the said Kartar Singh was able to produce any evidence, proof or document to support their claim from 11.7.55 to 4.3.80 i.e. for 25 years. The file maintained in the office of District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar further reveals that the allotment was converted into allotment for a price as non-claimant on the request of Kartar Singh himself when the allotted land was resumed and a Receiver was appointed to take possession.
A perusal of the attested copies of the documents obtained from the District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar shows that Harnam Singh son of Beer Singh got himself registered on his migration from Pakistan and mentioned all the members of his family one of whom is recorded as his son with the name of Kartar Singh (and not Avtar Singh or Tar Singh).
The record relating to the allotment in the name of Harnam Singh maintained in the State of Rajasthan further reveals that while pursuing his claim and submitting different applications to the District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar, the said Harnam Singh or his son never mentioned about his allotment or its cancellation in village Walipur, Tehsil Jagraon. Likewise, in the State of Punjab, he never mentioned about his having staked a claim for allottment in Rajasthan and the fate of further proceedings in that State.
9. The order dated 15.7.1996 of the Managing Officer suffered from the following serious infirmities which had prompted detailed investigation as while making his order dated 15.7.96 he never tried to collect or examine the above mentioned details and relied upon incomplete information mostly as furnished by the claimant. He did not try to ascertain and identity the legal heirs of Harnam Singh as required u/s 9 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Act, 1954. The Goshwara was issued in the name of Avtar Singh son of Harnam Singh through Smt. Mukhtiar Kaur wife of Ajaib Singh whereas in Rajasthan Harnam Singh had shown the family as under:-
Wives: Aas Kaur and Nihal Kaur,
Daughter: Nasib Kaur
Son: Kartar Singh.
Further, Managing Officer failed to ascertain the identity of person claiming to be son of Harnam Singh. While making application before the Managing Officer, the applicant claimed to be Avtar Singh son of Harnam Singh and the same name was mentioned in the order of Managing Officer dated 15.7.96 also. On the other hand, the Power of Attorney was in the name of Kartar Singh alias Avtar Singh. The Managing Officer committed grave irregularity when he failed to realise the necessity of seeking the requisite clarification on the subject.
It is significant that till 11.7.97 the “Warisnama” (Succession) of Harnam Singh (who was as per one of the orders passed in Punjab in 1988 stated to be dead for more than 8 years) had not been determined in Rajasthan. Yet, in his order dated 15.7.96 the Managing Officer did not waste much time in coming to the conclusion (without any document on record) that “Avtar Singh” was the sole successor to Harnam Singh and proceeded to prepare a Goshwara in the name of “Avtar Singh s/o Harnam Singh through Mukhtiar Kaur”.
At the same time the Managing Officer in his order dated 15.7.1996 took it for granted that the allotment of land in village Walipur Tehsil Jagraon Distt. Ludhiana was cancelled being double allotment though no authentic documents were available to establish this as the reason for cancellation and this was only the version of the claimant. On the contrary, it had already come on record that the file containing order dated 20.3.1963 could not be located. It is in this background that the Financial Commissioner while remanding the case vide his order dated 8.9.1993 had asked for the position to be confirmed from Rajasthan Government. Therefore, it was all the more necessary for Managing Officer to obtain detailed facts from the Rajasthan Govt.
10. It is evident that the Managing Officer did not comply with the order of the FCR in letter and spirit and chose to place reliance on sketchy information received from Rajasthan. The aspiring claimant also concealed material facts from Managing Officer. There was no mention of the circumstances under which the allotment in Sri Ganganagar came to be converted into allotment for price. Having been successful in getting two allotments against one alleged claim, one in Sri Ganganagar and the other in Walipur in Punjab, without any evidence to support the same, the applicant wanted to retain both. In Rajasthan, in the face of non-production of any proof of claim, the authorities decided to allow the land to be purchased whereas in Punjab the allotment was cancelled. Even the former he managed to retain with great difficulty as a Receiver was appointed for non-payment of price and possession was ordered to be taken. It was after his failure to get land in Rajasthan free of cost against his so called claim that he once again directed his efforts towards procuring the allotment in Punjab. He approached the Managing Officer Rehabilitation Department Punjab on 27.6.82 with a vague application which was more exploratory in nature rather than specific.
There is nothing on record in the nature of any documentary evidence to even obliquely show that Harnam Singh had abandoned any land in Bahawalpur(Pakistan). Originally after getting himself registered with District Rehabilitation Officer, Sri Ganganagar one Harnam Singh made an application in Phillaur which was transmitted to Sri Ganganagar. He was allotted land in Sri Ganganagar in 1955. As submitted above he could not satisfy the concerned authorities regarding maintainability of his claim for allotment as unsatisfied refugee claimant. On the other hand he obtained allotment of land against payment as non-claimant and not as unsatisfied claimant. Kartar Singh alias Avtar Singh who claims to be the son of Harnam Singh has now for the first time admitted that he has a sister Naseeb Kaur also. The belated filing of the claim (after 20 years) through a vague application coupled with concealment of facts in relation to fate of claim for allotment in Rajasthan creates serious suspicion regarding the bonafides of the claimant. He claims exparte cancellation and voluntary abandonment by Harnam Singh in the same breath ! The non-availability of the cancellation file admitted in 1983, i.e., soon after the filing of the belated claim assumes significance in this context. In the background of the detailed information as now available from Rajashtan, the deletion of entries in the jamabandis in respect of the land allotted in Walipur Tehsil Jagraon gives rise to an inescapable conclusion that the claim of Harnam Singh was not found to be valid and genuine, which led to its cancellation. Kartar Singh alias Avtar Singh has not come out with any reasonable explanation regarding the circumstances under which his father could not keep a hold on the land allotted to him in village Walipur. Why he allowed the land to drift from his hands for being allotted to somebody else remains unexplained; the common course of human conduct does not justify such an attitude on the part of Harnam Singh, who as per petitioner, abandoned his land in village Walipur without taking proper steps to preserve the same. He has also failed to justify his long sleep in agitating his claim for fresh allotment after Harnam Singh’s death. Mukhtiar Kaur his Power of Attorney has also said nothing to help Avtar Singh in substantiating his claim.
11. In the result it appears that Sh. Kartar Singh alias Avtar Singh sanguinely expected the authorities to act in vacuum without any satisfactory evidence whatsoever in his favour to support his claim for allotment. There is no documentary evidence to help him in verifying the genuineness of his claim. Therefore, the goshwara issued to him does not help him in any manner. The contents of his statement lead us nowhere and do not at all help him to build his claim in the absence of any documentary evidence in his favour. Harnam Singh and after his death Avtar Singh alias Kartar Singh or Avtar Singh alias Kartar Singh has been playing hide and seek with the two Governments of Punjab and Rajasthan. Papers and communications were presented on each side directly to the extent they suited his cause, while other evidence was skillfully held back. The claimant is trying to flog a dead horse to win the mad race for illegal allotment.
In view of all this I am of the opinion that the order dated 15.7.1996 suffers from the vice of arbitrariness and falls in the realm of perversity. Therefore, in exercise of the powers vested in me by virtue of the provisions of Section 33 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Act, 1954, I set aside the said order and resultantly the Goshwara also stands cancelled.
Orders to be communicated both through registered post & service.
Chandigarh, dated Financial Commissioner Revenue,
the 30th March, 2001 Punjab.