The Punjab government on Tuesday failed to justify its stand before the Punjab and Haryana high court as to what compulsion it had to challenge the land tribunal, constituted by the HC to find out illegal government land encroachments in the state, before the Supreme Court, when it was ready to implement the tribunal's recommendations.
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 last year, highlighting that thousands of acres of shamlat (government) land were being grabbed "right under the nose of the authorities", by people, including bureaucrats, police officers and politicians. It had recommended a CBI probe into the case.
The division bench headed by justice Jasbir Singh had in November last year directed the state government to clear its stand on what was stopping it from withdrawing the petition from the Supreme Court and why it was adopting "double standards".
In the reply submitted before the court on Tuesday, financial commissioner of revenue department, NS Kang, said, "…since the Supreme Court has not stayed constitution of the special tribunal, the state government is bound to comply with directions of the high court for implementation of the recommendations made by the special tribunal and constitution of the committee is a step in that direction."
But the reply did not show any willingness from the state government to withdraw the petition from the Supreme Court.
Kang informed the court that though the case was listed for hearing before the Supreme Court on January 9, on account of some clerical objection it could not be heard on that day. He also submitted that the state government had moved application before the Supreme Court to allow service of notice to the unserved parties in the case through publication in two daily newspapers.
After taking the state government's reply on record, the division bench comprising justices Jasbir Singh and HS Sidhu referred the case to be heard by some other bench of thehigh court on January 27 as justice Sidhu had represented the state government in the case as an advocate.