The Punjab government on Wednesday found itself at the receiving end of the Punjab and Haryana high court's ire for its "double standards" in showing willingness to implement recommendations of the justice Kuldip Singh (retd) headed land tribunal for vacating government land from illegal occupation and at the same time challenging the high court-constituted tribunal in the Supreme Court.
"If you (Punjab government) are willing to implement the commission's (tribunal's) recommendations, why is wastage of money then in the Supreme Court? Why are you pressing your SLP (special leave petition)? Withdraw it," said justice Jasbir Singh, speaking for the division bench also having justice Paramjit Singh.
The court remarked, "All farmers would be into litigation and your babus will be benefited. Why are you having double standards?"
Additional advocate general Rita Kohli informed the court, "The state government has constituted a committee of officers headed by the director, rural development and panchayats (on November 21), to take measure for retrieval of public lands that might have been distributed through illegal transactions."
To this, the court replied, "You (state government) of your own have started this. You should have come to the court first. If ultimately the tribunal is set aside (by the Supreme Court), all its reports go and your committee also goes." The court added, "We have earlier also asked you to make your stand clear whether you want to withdraw the SLP in the Supreme Court. But there is no specific reply."
However, the government counsel said, "The SLP was filed much earlier than the tribunal submitting its report in the court. The state's intent is now to implement the tribunal's reports."
With regard to the SLP's status in the Supreme Court, the counsel requested the court for some time to seek instructions from the government and informed that the case had been fixed for hearing after service had been affected to all parties.
The case has now been posted for the next hearing on January 13 and for the state to make its stand clear by filing a proper affidavit.
Govt land grab
The high court had on May 29, 2012, constituted the three-member tribunal led by justice Kuldip Singh (retd). It had submitted two interim reports of 65 villages in Chandigarh's periphery on March 11 and July 15, highlighting that thousands of acres of shamlat (government) land were being grabbed "right under the nose of the authorities", including bureaucrats, police officers and politicians. It had recommended a CBI probe into the case.