GOVERNMENT OF PUNJAB DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND REHABILITATION (LEGAL POLICY BRANCH)
The brief facts of this case are that on 25.1.1954 S/Sh. Lal Singh, Inder Singh and Bakhshish Singh sons of Hazara Singh son of Kirpa Singh submitted an application to the Extra Assistant Commissioner, Patiala through Inder Singh wherein they submitted that their deceased father Hazara Singh was holding land in Pakistan before Partition at two places. He was allotted land in village Kauli District Patiala in lieu of the land abandoned by him in Tehsil Alipur District Muzzaffargarh. However, he was not allotted any land in lieu of land measuring 73 acres in Chak Abbas and Chak Bhagwela Tehsil and District Rahimyarkhan in Bhawalpur State, Pakistan.
2. This application was forwarded to the Land Claims Officer, Jalandhar for verification. Yet another application dated 20.9.1955 was made by Inder Singh etc. to Deputy Secretary Rehabvilitation Department, Civil Secretariat, Jalandhar for the allotment of land in village Vasman Tehsil Rajpura in lieu of land abandoned by their father Hazara Singh in village Chak Abbas Tehsil and District Rahimyarkhan, Bhawalpur State. This application was rejected by the Managing Officer vide his order dated 4.6.1959 on the ground that Hazara Singh, claimant or his legal heirs had not filed any ‘Mutalba’ claim and in the absence of the same no allotment could be made. An intimation in this regard was sent to the petitioner.
3. After sleeping for a period of 25 years Inder Singh and his two brothers Lal Singh and Bakhshish Singh made an application dated 13.9.1984 through Inder Singh to the Deputy Secretary Rehabilitation stating therein that their father Hazara Singh (Deceased) had abandoned land in village Shehar Sultan and Kotla Gamoon Tehsil Alipur District Muzzaffargarh in lieu of which they had been allotted land in village Kauli Tehsil and District Patiala. Their father also owned 70 acres and 2 Kanals of land in village Chak Abbas and Chak Bhagwela Tehsil in District Rahimyarkhan, Bhawalpur in lieu of which no land had been allotted. It was further stated that their application dated 25.1.1954 had been filed vide ex-parte order dated 4.6.1959.
4. This application was processed by Sh.Bakshi Ram Assistant Registrar(L)-cum-Managing Officer, Rehabilitation Department, Punjab and he rejected this application vide order dated 8.10.1984 on the ground that their earlier application had already been filed by Managing Officer vide his order dated 4.6.1959 on the ground that their father had not filed any ‘Mutalba’ claim in respect of land abandoned by him in village Chak Abbas and Chak Bhagwela and an intimation of this was given to them.
5. They filed an appeal against this order dated 8.10.1984 before the Settlement Commissioner, Punjab, Rehabilitation Department, Chandigarh which was accepted vide order dated 31.12.1984 and the case was remanded to the Managing Officer for fresh decision. After remand the application was dismissed by a speaking order dated 25.3.1985 by Sh. Hari Krishan, Tehsildar(Sales)-cum-Managing Officer. An appeal was filed by the petitioners u/s 22 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Act, 1954 was accepted by Sh. Ved Parkash Gupta, Settlement Commissioner, Rehabilitation Department vide his order dated 9.12.1985 and the case was remanded to Managing Officer with the observation that the land accounts had not been checked. On remand the case was heard by Sh.N.P.Garg, Superintendent, who rejected the claim vide his detailed and well-reasoned order dated 19.8.1986. An appeal was filed by the petitioner against the above order before the Settlement Commissioner, Punjab, Rehabilitation Department which was again accepted by Sh.Ved Prakash Gupta, who again remanded the case to Managing Officer 30.3.87. Vide his order dated 27.7.1987 Sh.Sardara Singh, Managing Officer, Rehabilitation Department accepted the application and ordered that after imposing cut each of the applicants was entitled to 10 S.As 8¾ units of land in lieu of entire land abandoned in Pakistan, out of which 2 S.As 5½ units had already been allotted to each of the applicants. He directed allotment of the remaining land to them.
6. After that clearance was given by the Government in Rehabilitation Department vide letter No.P.IV(92)/19517 dated 9.12.1987 and goshwara was issued vide letter dated 20.5.1988 to Tehsildar, Patiala which was later on transferred to Tehsildar, Samana. Inder Singh one of the applicants was given his share of allotment in village Lalgarh Bhohat, Sehajpur and Fatehpur. Later on at the request of the applicants the goshwara was transferred from District Patiala to District Ropar on 21.7.1998 for allotting the balance area of 16 S.As 5¼ units and the case was forwarded to Tehsildar (Mahal)-cum-Managing Officer (Sales), Kharar. A clause was, however, added that the legal heirs of the allottees should be verified before allotment.
7. During the course of reverification, process and scrutiny of the files it was discovered that on account of various acts of omissions and commissions, the order dated 22.7.1987 of Managing Officer whereby he had determined the eligibility of Inder Singh, Lal Singh and Bakhshish Singh sons of Hazara Singh for allotment of an additional area of 8 S.As-3¼ units to each of them in lieu of the lands alleged to have been abandoned in village Chak Abbas Tehsil and District Rahimyarkhan, Bhawalpur State suffered from various glaring infirmities and the order had been passed without looking into all the aspects of the claim. A perusal of the record shows that the Managing Officer did not bother to verify the genuineness, validity and maintainability of the claim based on any reliable revenue record or any other kind of record whatsoever. The order of Managing Officer is full of numerous material infirmities as given below:-
Since Kartar Singh, the brother-in-law of present petitioners had claimed that his father-in-law (Hazara Singh) had joint land with his father Hukam Singh in Chak Abbas and Chak Bhagwela, but later on he and his brothers conceded in writing that they have no evidence to substantiate their alleged claim, the claim of the petitioners also stands irreparably demolished because the joint land is to exist either for all the joint holders or for none. The sketchy report prepared by Kartar Singh himself on the basis of “Chhant”, again manipulated by Kartar Singh, cannot be substituted for reliable documentary evidence.
8. On detection of all these glaring irregularities in the claim a notice was given to the parties at the addresses given in the petitions. Only Sh Baljot Singh son of Inder Singh appeared for personal hearing and his statement was recorded on 26.2.2001. In the statement recorded on 26.2.2001, Baljot Singh stated that his uncle Lal Singh had expired about 3-4 years back, i.e., before 1998. His father Inder Singh had expired in Jan.,1998 and Sh. Bakhshish Singh expired recently in January,2001. Sh. Inder Singh left behind Prabhjot Singh, Kanwarjot Singh, Gurjot Singh, Baljot Singh and Uttamjot Singh as sons and Smt. Darshanpreet Kaur and Uadwinder Kaur daughters. On the other hand Lal Singh left a daughter Gurcharan Kaur and 6 grand children (children of his son) Bakhshish Singh left Surinder Kaur, widow and Amarjit Singh, Bhupinderjot Singh sons and Smt. Jaspreet Kaur and Gurpreet Kaur daughters. He further stated that his father or any of his successor-in-interest had never filed any application for getting the goshwara transferred from Patiala District to Ropar District.
The statement of Baljot Singh has not made the position clear. On the contrary in the statement recorded on 7.11.2000, Kartar Singh stated in his own case that Sh. Lal Singh died in 1971 whereas now Baljot Singh has stated that Lal Singh died about 3-4 years back. Even if Lal Singh expired, it is not clear why his LRs were not associated at the time of making a request for transfer nor any letter of authority produced throughout
the proceedings. Again as per Baljot Singh’s statement, Bakhshish Singh expired in Jan.,2001 whereas if the letter Endst.No.Special/Steno dated 30.7.1998 of Tehsildar, Patiala on the file is to be believed, Bakhshish Singh was already dead on 3.7.1998 and Amarjot Singh and Bhupinderjot Singh sons and Surinder Kaur wife were the legal heirs. Now Baljot Singh discloses two more legal heirs of Bakhshish Singh, namely, Smt. Jaspreet Kaur and Gurpreet Kaur. Who is to be believed is not clear. Interestingly there is a letter and affidavit dated 16.9.98 on record from someone professing to be Bakhshish Singh (who has been identified by one Hardev Singh with an unknown address). However, even to the naked eye without aid of an expert the signatures of this Bakhshish Singh do not tally at all with the signatures of Bakhshish Singh on affidavit dated 23.2.88 on the allotment file. The overall impression that is gathered from this situation is that somebody other than the legal heirs of the professed claimant is pursuing the claim behind the scenes.
In view of the infirmities detailed above the order dated 27.7.1987 does not withstand the test of close and in depth judicial scrutiny and on the contrary there is occasion for the matter to be probed further. Therefore, interference by invoking the plenary powers under the provisions of Section 33 of Displaced Persons (C & R) Act, 1954 would be perfectly in order as the State interest is directly at stake. Accordingly, the order of the Managing Officer dated 27.7.1987 is set aside and the clearance already given by the Govt. to the land claim case of Hazara Singh filed by his sons Inder Singh, Lal Singh and Bakhshish Singh is hereby withdrawn, having been obtained fraudulently without bringing full facts on record. The possibility of culpable collusion of the then lower staff, who had processed this case cannot be ruled out. However, in order to afford yet another opportunity to the legal heirs of Inder Singh, Lal Singh and Bakhshish Singh, the matter is remanded to Managing Officer Rehabilitation, who will take a fresh decision after making a detailed inquiry in the light of observations contained in this order. If it is found that there is no merit in this claim of the applicants and the application is liable to ‘be rejected, then steps shall be taken at the appropriate level for the cancellation of land allotted in favour of Inder Singh on the basis of goshwara prepared in pursuance of the orders dated 27.7.1987 of the concerned Managing Officer. Meanwhile, no alienation of the said land shall be made pending final decision.
To be communicated to the concerned quarters.
Financial Commissioner Revenue,
the 12th June,2001 Punjab.