Harbhajan Kaur Sandhu, 79, a renowned sculptor from Muktsar, while delivering a sculptured portrait of late Dr MS Randhawa in bronze to the director of Government Museum and Art Gallery at Chandigarh in 1968, had never thought that she will even have to knock the doors of the Punjab and Haryana high court in the dusk of her life to get her due.
A visionary civil servant, Dr Randhawa had played a great role in establishing of Chandigarh and Green Revolution in India.
Since the UT administration showed little conviction in honouring its commitment to pay for the masterpiece in the last 46 years, in spite of several visits and reminders, the hurt and humiliated artist finally was forced to seek the judicial intervention to get her due of Rs. 1.5 lakh (market value of portrait at that time) along with 18% interest since 1968.
Peeved by administration’s apathy and satisfied that the multiple health hazards of the petitioner did prevent her from approaching the court since then till now, the high court has condoned the delay in filing the appeal.
The division bench headed by justice Surya Kant said, “We are also satisfied that the appellant need not go rejected and dejected from the court premises.” The court took assurance from administration’s counsel Shekhar Verma that he would take up the matter with the highest authorities as judicial intervention in such like matters might not be desirable. As the case has now been kept for next hearing on September 22, the administration would have to file its action taken report.
The court observed, “She is suffering with aliments that come with age. She has suffered severe back ache besides surgery of both the eyes, as is evident from some of the medical certificates produced.”
She had earlier approached the single bench of the high court where her petition was dismissed on the grounds of delays in filing the petition and that made a ground for her to challenge the single judge’s order before the division bench.