The Punjab and Haryana high court has ruled that a government authority or an official cannot enter into a compromise with regard to lease of public premises.
The high court order came on a petition by Batala panchayat samiti, wherein the then Gurdaspur deputy commissioner (DC) in 2010 had set aside a property eviction order.
The high court has imposed a cost of `5 lakh on the occupant, Bhupinder Singh, and directed the DC to get the premises vacated forthwith and submit a report within a month. He has also been told to initiate disciplinary and criminal proceedings against the delinquent officials and individuals due to whose connivance, interests of the panchayat samiti suffered for four decades, a single-judge bench of justice Rajan Gupta ordered.
The nine marla (approximately) plot was allegedly allotted to him in 1977 at `50 per month. However, he stopped paying rent after a month. In 1994, the local collector passed an order to vacate the plot and imposed a fine of `1.8 lakh on the allottee. However, in 1997, a local samiti official entered into a compromise with Singh, which was challenged by the samiti stating that it was not done on its behalf. After various rounds of battles at the local level, the matter reached the high court in 2010, wherein the samiti challenged the DC’s order against the eviction of property.
The high court termed the compromise “a fraud played by certain officials of the panchayat samiti” and stated that neither the panchayat secretary nor the executive officer (who entered into a compromise with Singh) were authorised to do so. The high court held that the plot in dispute was owned by the samiti and it is, therefore, public premises as described in the Punjab Public Premises and Land (Eviction & Rent Recovery) Act, 1973.
“The compromise on behalf of the panchayat samiti by certain officials is non-est (does not exist) in the eyes of law. A government authority or its official(s) cannot enter into any compromise with a private respondent with regard to the lease of public premises,” the high court said, while asking the DC to get the property vacated in a month and initiate an inquiry to ascertain who connived with the private respondent.