What about bona fide purchasers, bench asks Judicial Tribunal

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday asked the Judicial Tribunal, probing illegal properties owned by high-ups in the city's periphery, what should be done in cases where people were bona fide purchasers of disputed land.

Also, what course of action the tribunal, the High Court asked, proposed in cases where the dispute over land already stood settled by either a lower court or superior courts, including the High Court. The query was put to the tribunal, headed by Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh, by the High Court to find out whether legitimate and innocent buyers could be faulted or proceeded against for purchasing land which vested with Gram Panchayats.

In another significant development, the High Court asked the Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, to furnish details of sittings of the tribunal in the past four months. Orally observing in the open court, a division bench remarked that as per information received, the number of sittings by the members of the tribunal was pretty less.

Mincing no words, the bench noted that if it was found that members of the tribunal were not interested in pursuing the probe, the court would remove them.

Meanwhile, Punjab was given four weeks' time to submit its response to the interim report submitted by the tribunal a fortnight back. In its interim report, the tribunal had stated that "a land grab scam is operating specially in Punjab villages in city's periphery".

Recommending a CBI probe into such land grab cases, the tribunal had stated that "thousands of acres of land has either been grabbed or is in the process of being grabbed".

Around 30,000-35,000 registered sale deeds at Karoran (Naya Gaon) village which had come under the scanner of the tribunal were prima facie found to be illegal. The three-member tribunal comprising Justice (retd) Kuldip Singh, advocate P N Aggarwal and Babu Ram Gupta had also suggested that land from such illegal grabbers "must be dispossessed" and the grabbers must be "ordered to pay mesne profits for all the period during which they were illegally occupying the public lands".

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