GOVERNMENT OF PUNJAB REVENUE AND REHABILITATION DEPTT.(POLICY AND LEGAL BRANCH
The matter regarding allotment of land alleged to have been left by Hukam Singh in villages Chak Abbas and Chak Bagwala Tehsil Rahimyarkhan (Bahawalpur State) which was buried dead on the rejection of the claim of Hukam Singh vide order dated 4.6.1959 of the Managing Officer was revived after 25 years by one Inder Singh claiming to be General Power of Attorney of Kartar Singh son of Hukam Singh. In his application filed on 13.9.1984 to the Deputy Secretary, Rehabilitation he alleged that Hukam Singh son of Sher Singh father of Kartar Singh had left agricultural land measuring 70 Acres 2 kanals in the said villages. In that application he further stated that Hukam Singh had applied for allotment of land situated in Bahawalpur State on 25.2.1952 wherein an ex-parte order was passed on 11.8.1952 by R.C.Rehabilitation Department, Jalandhar and he made another application on 25.1.1954 wherein an ex-parte order was passed on 4.6.1959 by the A.R.III, Rehabilitation Department, Jalandhar. The said application dated 13.9.84 was processed by the Managing Officer but the same was dismissed vide order dated 8.10.1984 on the ground that his request for allotment had since been rejected by the Managing Officer on 4.6.1959 on the ground that the petitioner or his father had never filed any claim for allotment of land. An appeal was carried to the Settlement Commissioner against the order dated 8.10.1984 of the Managing Officer, who remanded the case vide his order dated 31.10.1984 for fresh decision observing that the petitioner had made applications for allotment of land before 31.12.63 as required under rule 67-A of Displaced Persons (C & R) Rules, 1955. On remand the Managing Officer again rejected the claim of petitioner vide his order dated 25.3.1985 on the ground that the petitioner had failed to lodge his claim for allotment before the appointed date i.e. 31.12.1963, despite the fact that there was ample time and opportunity for doing so during the period from 1959 to 1963. The petitioner challenged this order dated 25.3.1985 in appeal u/s 22 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Act, 1954 before the Settlement Commissioner, who passed order dated 9.12.1985 thereby quashing the order dated 25.3.1985 of Managing Officer and remanding the case for fresh decision.
2. The case of the petitioner was considered at length by the Managing Officer Rehabilitation Department, Punjab, Chandigarh but he dismissed his petition vide order dated 19.8.1986. He took note of the fact that the order dated 4.6.1959 rejecting the application of the petitioner had been passed on the ground that Hukam Singh or the petitioner had never filed ‘mutalba’ claim, in the absence of which no allotment could be made and the intimation of that order had been sent to the petitioner. He also observed that even if no intimation regarding the rejection of his application by Managing Officer on 4.6.1959 was sent, it was incumbent of the petitioner to file aforesaid application before 31.12.1963 under rule 67-A of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Rules, 1955 in response to the Press Note issued in Sept.,1963 which was not done by him. He further took cognizance of the fact that after the passing of the order dated 4.6.1959, the petitioner remained silent for about 25 years and applied for allotment only on 13.9.1984 without relying upon any verified claim.
3. The order dated 19.8.1986 of the Managing Officer was challenged in appeal u/s 22 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Act before the Settlement Commissioner, Rehabilitation Department, Punjab, Chandigarh by Kartar Singh, petitioner. The Settlement Commissioner accepted the appeal vide his order dated 30.3.1987 and while quashing the order dated 19.8.1986 he remanded the case to the Tehsildar-Sales-cum-Managing Officer, Rehabilitation Department with the direction that the matter should be examined afresh to determine the eligibility of the petitioner for the allotment of land to him.
4. In pursuance of this order of remand the matter was dealt with by Sh.S.M.Sharma, Tehsildar (Hqrs.)-cum-Managing Officer and he passed order dated 14.12.1988. Kartar Singh was declared eligible for the allotment of land measuring 23 Std. Acres 12½ units of land in lieu of land abandoned by him in Chak Abbas in Bahawalpur State. He directed that necessary Goshwara be prepared and sent as per option of the claimant after obtaining clearance from the Government.
Subsequently clearance was given at Govt. level vide No.P-IV(927)97/1270 dated 9.9.1997. This clearance was based on the office noting dated 3.9.1997. A perusal of office noting reveals that it was wrongly projected therein that the Managing Officer had passed the order dated 14.12.1988, thereby adjudging the entitlement of Kartar Singh to land measuring 23 Std. Acres 12½ units, after getting the inspection/examination of the relevant records. The office further submitted that the applications dated 25.2.1952, 25.1.1954 and 20.9.1955 had been made before the crucial date, i.e., 31.12.1963 as provided in rule 67-A of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Rules, 1955, and the order dated 14.12.1988 was passed by Tehsildar (Hqrs)-cum-Managing Officer in compliance with the order dated 30.3.1987 of the Settlement Commissioner and consequently the Managing Officer had correctly accepted the claim for allotment of land measuring 23-12½ Std. Acres to Hukam Singh through Kartar Singh.
5. In my opinion the clearance which was given on the misleading note of the office suffers from numerous glaring infirmities which cannot be ignored and the applications mentioned in the order dated 19.8.1999 of the Hon’ble High Court of Punjab & Haryana Annexure P-4 and P-5 to the Writ Petition No. 4012 of 1955 deserve to be rejected.
Initially in 1952, Hukam Singh is shown to have claimed allotment of land in lieu of land alleged to have been left in village Chak Abbas, tehsil & district Rahimyarkhan. He is shown to have become a resident of Bega, Tehsil Sonepat and claimed that as he originally belonged to Shehar Sultan, district Muzafargarh, Tehsil Alipur he had a right for allotment of land in tehsil Sonepat according to allocation of tehsil Alipur district Muzafarnagar. However, when Kartar Singhd applied through his General Power of Attorney Holder Inder Singh on 13.9.84, he claimed that Hukam Singh had left land in Mauza Chak Abbas and Chak Bagowala. The Managing Officer does not discuss in his order the reason for sudden change in the wishes of the claimant in relinquishing his preference for Haryana and opting for Punjab at this belated stage. Incidentally in Haryana Hukam Singh though contacted through the office of the Deputy Commissioner at the instance of Rehabilitation Department, Jalandhar was not traceable at the address given.
The claim allowed by Managing Officer vide his order dated 14.12.88 relates to only village Chak Abbas. There is not even an oblique mention regarding the land in village Chak Bagwala in the said order. The records do not show as to what happened to the request in respect of the land alleged to have been left in Chak Bagwala. Neither Kartar Singh pressed his claim regarding the land alleged to have been left in Chak Bagwala nor did the Managing Officer make any mention in his order dated 14.12.1988, whereby the claim regarding the land alleged to have been left in Chak Abbas alone was accepted.
The order of the Managing Officer is, lacking in application of mind and constitutes numerous material irregularities. The Managing Officer did not bother to verify the genuineness, validity and maintainability of the claim from any record whatsoever and he erroneously based his decision only on the “chhant jamabandi” and a few lines statement of Kartar Singh, whom nobody identified.
In accordance with Govt. policy prevailing immediately after Partition when lakhs of refugees migrated to India, the process for allotment started with the registration of ‘mutalba’ claims which were further verified by the Rehabilitation authorities from the documentary evidence before making the allotment. The applications of Hukam Singh for allotment of land were repeatedly rejected by different forums as detailed above on the ground that he had failed to file mutalba claim. At one stage it is clearly written that Hukam Singh failed to produce any documentary evidence in his favour whatsoever. But the persistent rejection of claim of Kartar Singh on the ground that he had not filed an appropriate claim did not fetch any response from him and he did not bother to file the desired claim and was contented with filing simple applications without any supporting material. According to the rules framed under East Punjab Refugee (Registration of Land Claim) Ordinance, 1948 followed by the East Punjab Refugee (Registration of Land Claim) Act, 1948 detailed procedure was prescribed for lodging and verification of the claims. A form known as Parcha Tasdiq was devised for recording the results of verification. It was inevitably for the reason that Hukam Singh and his son Kartar Singh who filed applications simpliciter and not proper claim, failed to satisfy the concerned Rehabilitation Authorities regarding the genuineness of their land claim; that their claim was rejected vide order dated 4.6.1959. However, while passing the order dated 14.12.1988, the Managing Officer did not at all try to satisfy himself regarding the genuineness and maintainability of the claim as also the credentials and identity of Kartar Singh.
He never called upon him to substantiate his claim by document/oral evidence.
Hukam Singh wanted allotment of land in tehsil Sonepat as he originally belonged to Shahar Sultan and according to allocation of tehsil Alipur, District Muzafarnagar he had a right for allotment of land in Tehsil Sonepat. Why that aspect of the matter was ignored and suddenly after 29 years the claim was entered in Punjab is a matter which had been left totally untouched and unanswered by the Managing Officer. An unverified claim could be acceptable if there was some corroborative evidence to connect the claimant to the claim. Here no such connection is established. In this case such an exercise has not been undertaken by the Managing Officer nor was there any effort on the part of the claimant to supply any documents. The various judgements have been quoted in Managing Officer’s order totally out of context as they relate to a period when hordes of refugees had freshly migrated from Pakistan in object and utter misery. It was not the time to ask questions, it was time for giving them instant relief and for allowing their claims through summary procedures to alleviate their sufferings somehow. At that time the number of migrants was o large that the Rehabilitation authorities had to pass orders in open court in front of large number of people. There was mass migration in '‘Kaflas’ with survivors of an entire village settling in Camps and thereafter, seeking/getting temporary allotment villagewise and there was very little scope for manipulation. These judgements are not applicable to the present fact-situation wherein, in peace-time, after more than 35 years of Partition, a man suddenly comes up on the scene with a simple application and expects the same treatment in closed-door proceedings which was allowed immediately after partition when verifications were made in open gatherings.
It is a matter to note that Kartar Singh the present applicant was a major at the time of migration as the Power of Attorney dated 28.8.1984 executed by him in favour of Inder Singh describes his age as 55 years. Thus his date of birth works out somewhere in 1929 or 1930. Apparently he became a major either at the time of partition or somewhere after. Therefore, had he exercised due diligence he would have lodged and pursued his claim immediately after Partition. But neither Hukam Singh, the original claimant, nor Kartar Singh the present claimant filed any formal claim during these years and the entire case is based on sketchy and cryptic applications which are inconsistent in the original request there is no mention of any land having been left in village Bagwala; the application dated 1952 mentions only claim relating to Chak Abbas Khan, whereas the application made in 1984 mentions claim relating to Bhagwala also. The discrepancy and constant shift in the stand in driblets eludes and explanation. Interestingly, none of these applicants states that original claimant Hukam Singh had received any claim in village Kauli, Tehsil Patiala yet the Settlement Commissioner while remanding the case on 3.3.1987 suddenly mentioned in his order that “the Ld. Counsel has further contended that allotment in lieu of the land abandoned by applicant’s father in village Alipur, tehsil Muzaffargarh (West Pakistan)has been made in village Kauli, Tehsil and district Patiala in the name of appellant’s father but his request for allotment of land in lieu of Bhawalpur State remains unsatisfied.” The entire file relating to these applications does not record any allotment in village Kauli and observations of Settlement Commissioner are based on surmises. This is strengthened from the report of Patwari of village Kauli which states that no ownership entry has been found in the name of Hukam Singh son of Sher Singh or Kartar Singh son of Hukam Singh. Rather, Hukam Singh son of Sher Singh is reported to have purchased 3 bighas and 3 biswas of land in village Mohabatpur on 18.3.1959 which he sold away on 22.6.1977. It is reported that the village Mohabatpur is contiguous to village Kauli, but no land has been allotted in village Mohabatpur either.
The Managing Officer in his order dated 14.12.1988 recorded that Kartar Singh son of Hukam Singh states that he was the only legal heir of his deceased father. There is no death certificate of the original claimant on record. The record shows that the Managing Officer made no enquiries on the subject of Hukam Singh’s succession nor did he ask for any evidence in corroboration of Kartar Singh being the only legal heir. There is an application dated 1995 of one Gobind Ram of Rajpura, who also claimed to be attorney of Kartar Singh in 1995 and on whose initiative the file again started moving which states that the two brothers of Kartar Singh had already been allotted land. All this was on Govt. record when the case was put up to the officers for clearance in 1997 but the office did not make any effort to point out this discrepancy. Thus, the claim of Kartar Singh was decided without any cogent and convincing evidence.
There is no plausible explanation from the side of the original claimant as to why he failed to have recourse to the statutory remedies available under the Displaced Persons(C & R) Act, 1954 and continued to remain in deep slumber for 25 years. Rather the original claimant remained silent after 1959 by accepting the infirmities afflicting his claim. When he is reported to have died one Kartar Singh came up claiming to be son of Hukam Singh the original migrant and pursued his claim as if nothing had happened in-between. All that Kartar Singh stated was that orders were not conveyed to him. Why he did not himself make inquiries though he was an adult has not been explained. It is now expected that the present claimant Kartar Singh was working with the Consolidation Department of Haryana as Kanungo and has retired from the service in that State. All the addresses he has given were of Chandigarh and of Haryana and Punjab and not of distant places. He does not come out with any plausible explanation to condone the latches spreading over a period of 25 years. Financial Commissioner Revenue, Haryana was impleaded in the CWP No.4012 of 1999 but for some strange reason Kartar Singh did not press his claim against him.
It may be pertinently mentioned that even the identity of Hukam Singh and Kartar Singh whose applications stood rejected way back on 4.6.1959 without any further reaction from his side for a long period of 25 years does not stand unimpeachably established. If Hukam Singh and Kartar Singh were genuine claimants they must have filed mutalba claim in accordance with the policy of the Govt. at the very initial stage instead of banking on simple applications. Yet the alleged Hukam Singh kept quiet after 1959, and Kartar Singh became active at the age of 55 in 1984 and that too through an attorney Inder Singh who was an XEN posted at Chandigarh. For some strange reason an Inland letter dated 17.11.1988 was sent to the Govt./Managing Officer informing that the Power of Attorney given in favour of Inder Singh had been revoked.
In view of the infirmities detailed above in the order dated 14.12.1988 as detailed above, the said order does notwithstand the test of close in-depth scrutiny. Therefore, while setting aside the said order, the clearance already given by the Govt. to the land claim of Kartar Singh is hereby withdrawn. Consequently the applications Annexure P-4 and P-5 of the Writ Petition No.4012 of 1999 are rejected.
However, in order to afford yet another opportunity to Kartar Singh to establish his claim in the face of these infirmities, the matter is remanded to Managing Officer, Rehabilitation, who will take a fresh decision after making a detailed enquiry in light of observations contained in this order. Sh. Kartar Singh should report to the Managing Officer on 26.9.2000. A copy of this order should be sent to him for compliance.
Chandigarh, dated Financial Commissioner Revenue,
The 13th Sept., 2000 Punjab.