The Punjab and Haryana high court has dismissed the petition challenging allotment of 21.26 acres of government land by gram panchayat, Sanauli, in Dera Bassi tehsil of SAS Nagar to Jagan Tubes Ltd (JTL) Educational Foundation in which Chandigarh MP Pawan Kumar Bansal's brother-in-law is one of the trustees.
The land was allegedly allotted in 2010 at throwaway prices to the trust having Bansal's brother-in-law, Mithan Lal Singla, on board. Singla is father of Vijay Singla who is accused in the railgate (bribery case). The high court had in August 2012 stayed further construction activity of a school at the site.
The division bench comprising chief justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and justice Arun Palli, while dismissing the petition on Thursday observed that gram panchayat, Sanauli, being a democratically elected body was fully empowered to pass the resolution. The court also observed that it was on the basis of the gram panchayat's resolution that the Punjab government had considered and sanctioned the allotment of plot on lease. However, the detailed judgment is yet to be released from the court.
The public interest litigation was filed by Harshinder Singh of Phase-9, SAS Nagar, challenging the resolution passed by the gram panchayat on July 6, 2010, regarding handing over the land to the foundation on lease for 33 years. It was submitted that the land was leased out without putting it on an auction by way of advertisements in newspapers.
It was added that the owners of the foundation had no previous experience in the field of education and were into the business of small-scale manufacturing and trading in tubes and real estate.
The petitioner said as per the amended rules, a gram panchayat is empowered to auction only 1 acre of 'shamlat deh' land. But under the garb of this rule, 21.26 acres of panchayat land, urban in nature and situated adjacent to the boundary of the Zirakpur municipal council area, had been transferred to the foundation at the rate of `30,000 per acre lease money payable annually. However, the market price of the land is between `1.5 crore to `5 crore.
Punjab Vigilance Report
The Punjab vigilance bureau (VB) had submitted that the trust had under the garb of charity "managed to get" a lease on 21.26 acres of prime government land for `6.3 lakh a year for "lucrative commercial activities". However, the VB said no criminal conspiracy had transpired between the trust and revenue authorities wherein documents mentioned the lease period as 99 years instead of 33 years.