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Allotment case of Smt. Beant Kaur

GOVERNMENT OF PUNJAB DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE AND REHABILITATION (POLICY & LEGAL BRANCH)

File No.P-3/119(927)97/

                                                                             ORDER

The facts of the case are that one Smt. Beant Kaur claiming to be daughter of Dhunda Singh son of Wasawa Singh gave an application dated 10.12.96 through Karam Singh son of Darbara Singh to the Tehsildar Boundary Cell-cum-Managing Officer Rehabilitation Department stating that her father Dhunda Singh a migrant from village Matteke Tehsil Daska, District Sialkot was never allotted land anywhere in India. She (Beant Kaur) further claimed that she was the sole legal heir of her father and had no sister or brother and she had not been allotted any land in lieu of land left by Dhunda Singh in Pakistan. With this application was enclosed a copy of jamabandi of village Matteke, Tehsil Daska, District Sialkot, Pakistan obtained from the Directory Organisation, Jalandhar. A photocopy of an affidavit dated 6.11.96 purporting to be from Beant Kaur was also enclosed. This affidavit stated that neither she nor any member of her family had till date been allotted any land in the country. On 6.11.96 itself Beant Kaur also executed a Power of Attorney in favour of Hazara Singh son of Ram Singh of village Nadala. Hazara Singh, in turn, gave a Special Power of Attorney in favour of one Karam Singh son of Darbara Singh of village Nadala on 20.11.96.

2. The Tehsildar, Boundary Cell, Shri Hari Singh sent a notice to Karam Singh son of Darbara Singh and finally vide his order dated 26.3.1997 determined an allotment of 18 SAs 14 units in favour of the “applicant”. In his order he wrote that as per register 1-D Dhunda Singh had been allotted 18 SAs 14 units land in village Ucha H.B.No.85, Tehsil Bolath, district Kapurthala but as per report of D.L.R. office dated 25.11.1996 no allotment was found in the name of the said Dhunda Singh in the said village. Thereafter the case was moved to the Government for clearance. Sh. Kuldip Singh, Senior Assistant recommended on the Govt. file that clearance may be given. However, a back reference was made on the suggestion of MEO on 10.2.1998 that, affidavits should be filed by both the power of attorney holders to verify whether the General Power of Attorney holder and Special Power of Attorney holder were both alive. It was also desired that the Managing Officer may satisfy himself regarding the legal heirs of Dhunda Singh. Sh. Hari Singh was transferred in the meantime and while examining the case the present Managing Officer observed a number of irregularities committed in deciding the entitlement and brought these to the notice of the Govt. It was, therefore, considered necessary to call the concerned parties for a hearing. Registered notices were sent both to Hazara Singh son of Ram Singh and Smt. Beant Kaur through Karam Singh son of Darbara Singh for 12.3.2001. On 12.3.2001 only Hazara Singh son of Ram Singh the General Attorney appeared alongwith a lady who stated that she was Beant Kaur daughter of Dhunda Singh. Their statements were got recorded. A gist of these statements is as under:-

  • Beant Kaur aged 50 years stated that she was 5 years old at the time of Partition. Her father Dhunda Singh and mother whose name was Kartar Kaur were both killed at the time of Partition. She had one brother whose name she does not remember; he was also killed at the time of formation of Pakistan. No one presented any claim on their behalf. In cross-examination she admitted that her father had a second wife by the name of Amar Kaur who she stated was her Massi (maternal aunt). She also stated that she had been informed about her father’s land by her paternal cousins. She stated that she had no proof or papers/record of being daughter of Dhunda Singh and could produce them after a search. Her husband was cultivating some land on '‘theka' and also reared buffaloes. When she attained the age of majority no one told her that they had land in Pakistan. She was married 25-26 years back. She was also not aware that Kartar Kaur and Amar Kaur who were wives of Dhunda Singh had filed a claim in 1948 as they had died during Partition. She also claimed that she was not aware that any land had been allotted in Ucha Pind, Tehsil Kapurthala in the name of Dhunda Singh. She had given her power of attorney in favour of Hazara Singh as he was a friend of her cousins.
  • Hazara Singh son of Ram Singh aged approximately 60 years made a statement on the following lines:-

“He recognised Beant Kaur who was daughter of Dhunda Singh. He did not know the name of the father of Dhunda Singh and also did not know the names of the wives of Dhunda Singh. All that he was aware was that they were all killed during the formation of Pakistan. He was not aware whether after Partition any one gave an application in respect of claim of Dhunda Singh nor was he aware whether any allotment was made on the basis of that claim. He had only got a power of attorney 3-4 years back. Prior to receiving the said power of attorney he was not aware of any details relating to the family of Dhunda Singh or his claim. He stated that he gave a Special Power of Attorney to Balwant Singh of Khanpur whose father’s name he did not know and denied having given any power of attorney to Karam Singh, although he admitted that Karam Singh was the resident of Nadala and had died a month and a half back. He admitted that he was a Power of Attorney holder in case of land claim of one Dalip Singh son of Ganga Singh resident of Lakhan Kalan also.

Beant Kaur was told that if she wanted to give evidence or submit any papers she should come to this office on 19.3.2001. But on 19.3.2001, the said Beant Kaur did not show up. However, the same Hazara Singh presented himself. He was identified by one Balwant Singh, lambardar of village Bamuwal Sub-Tehsil Dhilwan. Hazara Singh stated that he had no further proof to give and therefore, Beant Kaur had not come present nor were they hopeful of getting any proof regarding identification of Beant Kaur. Therefore, whatever decision was considered appropriate may be taken.

4. In the light of these statements and the papers on record it is found that the Managing Officer had seriously erred on facts as well as on assumptions in deterring the entitlement of Beant Kaur to such a large chunk of land without proper care and caution. Some of the irregularities and aberrations which have emerged in this case are as under:-

  • The application dated 10.12.96 referred to in para 1 above was signed not by Beant Kaur but in the name of one Karam Singh son of Darbara Singh. However, the signatures in Urdu cannot be read as ‘Karam Singh’. Karam Singh in turn, was a Special Attorney of Hazara Singh son of Ram Singh who was the General Attorney of Beant Kaur. At no stage of time in the entire proceedings were either Beant Kaur or Hazara Singh summoned by the Managing Officer; only Karam Singh son of Darbara Singh was summoned. The Managing Officer conducted proceedings on four dates between 28.1.1997 and 26.3.1997. Beant Kaur never appeared before him.
  • The record available on the file unambiguously reveals that claim in the name of Dhunda Singh was filed by his two widows Amar Kaur and Kartar Kaur on 12.3.1948 vide Registration No.G 2/92 and they were allotted land in consequence thereof. This gives lie to the statement of the said Beant Kaur that no one survived Dhunda Singh except daughter Beant Kaur. In the application dated 10.12.96 received on 10.1.1997 there is no mention of the filing of claims in 1948 by widows of Dhunda Singh. Rather, it has been stated that every one in the family was killed in Partition except daughter Beant Kaur.
  • The record shows that the Managing Officer made a mis-statement when he referred to a certain “report dated 25.11.96 of D.L.R’s office” to come to the conclusion that no area stood allotted in the name of the claimant in village Ucha H.B.No.85 district Kapurthala. This “report” has been made on the reverse of an application filed by one Wazir Chand care of Civil Secretariat, Jalandhar and reads as under:-

"E[r/P[eIl ipMf auc[/85 qihsIl kpUrQl[ vyKI geI hY |

prcI nMbr[n Ksr[ bn[m FUMf[ pu@qr vs[v[ nhIN imlI hY |

drK[sq v[ps s[iel hovy |"

The signatures on the ‘report’ are illegible and the report has not been authenticated by any competent authority. It is evident that the Managing Officer blatantly misinterpreted the wording of the writing in favour of the applicant. Report of Lakhwinder Singh, Patwari prepared on 1.9.97 after passing of order by Hari Singh, Managing Officer is also of no help as it states that there is no owner by the name of Dhunda Singh son of Wasawa Singh which clearly implies that the position is being stated as on 1.9.97.

  • Since Dhunda Singh even as per version of Beant Kaur had died before the enactment of the Hindu Succession Act, 1956 her claim had to be examined w.r.t. the nature of property and the customary law then prevailing. Yet the Managing Officer did not make even casual inquiries about the legal heirs of Dhunda Singh though as per provisions of section 9 of the Displaced Persons (C & R) Act he was legally bound to ascertain these. Beant Kaur was not asked to be present by the Managing Officer even once, leave alone making any attempt to identify her.
  • Last but not the least the claim of Beant Kaur is seriously afflicted by laches. No plausible explanation is available for the heavy delay of nearly 36 years in applying for allotment after Beant Kaur is supposed to have attained the age of majority. It eludes the comprehension of a judicial mind that a person should sleep over a claim for such a large chunk of land for so many years, and suddenly wake up one fine morning to claim his/her inheritance through a simple half page application without even caring to sign/thumb mark it, and without supplying any reliable evidence in support of the claim.

5. The aforestated serious infirmities afflicting the order dated 17.6.1997 of Sh.Hari Singh, Tehsildar and the remarkable promptitude displayed by him in favourably disposing of such a large claim, without even bothering to require the presence of Beant Kaur even once, excites grave suspicion about his complicity with the so called attorney who is now fumbling on facts. This conclusion of mine is further fortified by the denial of Hazara Singh on 12.3.2001 that he had given any Power of Attorney in favour of Karam Singh though admitting at the same time that he knows Karam Singh, his (mis)statement that he had given a special Power of Attorney to Balwant Singh, whose father’s name he did not know, and his ignorance regarding the facts of the claim. The said Beant Kaur has only strengthened this belief by her vague and evasive statements, and her ignorance regarding filing of claim by widows of Dhunda Singh. The dubious association of one Wazir Chand, Petition Writer at Jalandhar with this case ( and many other cases) in seeking and obtaining vague unauthenticated reports only makes the case weaker. All these facts and circumstances when considered in conjunction go a long way in detracting from, rather irreparably demolishing, the claim of the petitioner.

6. In view of my above discussions, I am of the opinion that the order dated 17.6.1997 of the Managing Officer suffers from grave and incurable infirmities and irregularities and the same is not legally sustainable. Therefore, in exercise of my powers u/s 33 of the Displaced Persons (Compensation and Rehabilitation) Act, 1954, I set aside the said order.

To be communicated through registered post.

(SHYAMA MANN)

Chandigarh, dated

Financial Commissioner Revenue,

the 24th April, 2001 Punjab.

Hon'ble Revenue Minister

Hon'ble Minister-In-Charge
Shri. Gurpreet Singh Kangar

 


 

Special Chief Secretary, Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Mangement
Shri. Karan Bir Singh Sidhu, IAS

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