Punjab revenue minister Bikram Singh Majithia said on Monday that state Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa's real-estate company had been found guilty of evading Rs. 44 lakh stamp duty in the purchase of land at Bhronjia village in SAS Nagar district.
At a press conference here, the minister produced dates of the additional deputy commissioner's (ADC's) court proceedings, that revealed that Bajwa's company PCB Real Estate did not appear for the hearing after being served a notice on July 23, that led to an ex-parte decision of slapping Rs. 44 lakh as stamp duty evasion on the company.
Bajwa finally replied to the notice after his company's constant absence during hearings since July and the ex-parte decision on October 15, as per the record provided by Majithia at Monday's media briefing.
Majithia, quoting the "official record", said the stamp duty evasion had been calculated considering collector rate of Rs. 11 crore for the land, for which PCB Real Estate paid Rs. 2.98 crore, evading Rs. 44 lakh as stamp duty.
Majithia said he had already asked the state's financial commissioner revenue (FCR) to hold a detailed inquiry into the overall transaction of land deals of PCB considering the nature of the land as shamlat deh (village common land).
"We will punish all guilty officials in case the sale deeds of the said land are found illegal," Majithia said, when asked whether the government had initiated any move against the officials who inked the illegal sale deeds.
HT has done a series of reports on Bajwa's land deals, highlighting that the land in transaction mutated in favour of the PCB Real Estate was shamlat deh and, thus, illegal.
The minister on Monday acknowledged the reported illegality in the said land transactions, saying that there were several gaps in the registry of the land.
Majithia highlighted that the PCB stakeholders neither submitted a "self-declaration" nor a specific pro forma mandatory to be filled by the buyers during the registration of the land.
Majithia also accused Bajwa of misinforming the public on payments made for the land purchase.
He ridiculed Bajwa for showing "wrong cheques" as a mode of payment for the land deal at a press conference, saying that the revenue department conducted the registry on November 9, 2011, while the cheques that Bajwa had shown were post-dated.
Majithia's pronouncement of initiating an inquiry into Bajwa land deals comes in the light of chief minister Parkash Singh Badal's repeated assertions that no inquiry has so far been formally ordered in the case.
"I am in the chair of the minister with the chief minister's blessings," Majithia replied, when asked whether he took the CM into confidence for initiating the probe against Bajwa.