The court of Dera Bassi judicial magistrate JS Mehndiratta convicted former sarpanch and four nambardars of Bhankharpur village in SAS Nagar for selling the village common land without authorisation.
The court awarded three-year jail to nambardars Jai Singh (74), while two year jail each to nambardars Harcharan Singh (65), Jasbir Singh (62), Harpal Singh (50) and former sarpanch Joginder Singh (65) all residents of Bhankharpur. The court has also imposed a fine of `10,000 each on the convicts.
“The accused hatched a criminal conspiracy to sell the common land without authorisation. The proprietors of the village have a right on the said land, but the convicts did not take their authorisation before entering into the negotiation to sell the land,”read the January 20 court order.
“They have misused their position and lost the sight of their duties in the face of glitter of the gold. Their act not only impacts the property rights of proprietors of the village but also breaches the trust and confidence which had been reposed in them by the virtue of their positions,” the court order read.
The police had registered a case of criminal conspiracy (Section 120) and cheating (Section 420) of the Indian penal Code (IPC) on June 25, 2008, following a letter from the office of the Punjab advocate general.
The rural development and panchayats department had on January 11, 2007, shot off a letter to SAS Nagar deputy commissioner asking him to take action against Jasvir Singh, Harpal Singh, Jai Singh, Harcharan Singh and Joginder Singh.
The department had recommended registration of the case against the accused for executing an illegal agreement for selling 394 kanals of land in 2006 following which a writ petition was filed in the Punjab and Haryana high court.
During the hearing, the high court was told that the SAS Nagar deputy commissioner in July 2007 had asked the SSP to register a case against the accused, but in vain.
As the high court had then sought a status report from the SSP and the DC on steps taken in the case. The case was registered on June 25, 2008, following a letter by the advocate general office. It was alleged that the accused sold the common land in May 2006 to a developer - Shipra Estate Limited - for Rs 10 crore.