Finding the Gurgaon land exchange case, in which the high court had last week quashed 20 orders passed by the former Haryana consolidation directors without jurisdiction favouring private companies, “to be a tip of an iceberg”, the Punjab and Haryana high court has directed all divisional commissioners to prepare list of cases decided in the past wherein panchayat land has been exchanged with the private parties.
In the detailed and strong judgment in the case ‘Khushi Ram and others vs State of Haryana’ which came on Thursday, the division bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain directed the Haryana chief secretary to further direct divisional commissioners to comply orders within six months period.
The bench observed that earlier a single judge bench of the high court in a similar case had virtually passed strictures against one of the two former consolidation directors involved in the present case, Anil Kumar, now home secretary Chandigarh. The single judge had observed, “one such example has been set up by Mr Anil Kumar, IAS, Director, Consolidation, Haryana, who in total abuse of powers and authority vested by law has allowed exchange of land that belongs to the gram panchayat.”
However, the other former director consolidation involved in the present case is SC Goel.
Finding the public interest litigation meritorious, the bench while quashing all the 20 orders of exchange of panchayat land, said, “Director Consolidation under the Act has no power to pass an order regarding exchange of land of the gram panchayat in exercise of powers under section 42 of the Act.”
The starting paragraph of the 25 pages judgment reads, “the facts of this case, to be narrated and discussed hereinafter, open the Pandora box and put a question mark on the act and conduct, efficiency and integrity of the office of director consolidation of the state of Haryana exercising powers under section 42 of the East Punjab Holdings (Consolidation and Prevention of Fragmentation Act, 1948.”
Addressing one of the questions raised in the petition, the bench cleared, “the subsequent purchasers have no right to seek path in respect of a scheme finalised earlier at the time of consolidation.”
Section 5 of the 1961 Act talks of disposal of land vested in the panchayat for the benefit of the inhabitants of the village in the manner prescribed. However, the bench said “the companies who have purchased the land after consolidation are obviously not the inhabitants of the village.”
In most of the cases after completion of the consolidation, records were consigned in record rooms in 1964-65. Whereas, the mutation was made in favour of private companies/persons in 2008.
The petitioners had challenged the orders passed by the former Haryana consolidation officers SC Goel and Anil Kumar of exchange of 185 kanal and 148 marla gram panchayat prime land in 2008-09 to 15 private companies/persons.
Land belongs to the villages Ullawas, Gawal Pahari, Bandhwari, Balola, Ghata and Badshahpur of Gurgaon district.
The private companies who had been benefited were Roa Krishan Estate, B&B Mercantile, Nova Realtors, Marigold Mercantile, Mikado Realtors, RR Infrastructure, Oscar Builtech and nine other individuals.