Requesting that the Swarna Shatabdi Express attached with the case be released, the railways on Friday filed an objection to the execution application filed by a farmer over non-payment of compensation in a court in Ludhiana. The court, however, refused to vacate the attachment order, but directed the farmer to file a reply at the next hearing on April 25. Technically the court’s property, the train continues to ply as usual between Amritsar and New Delhi.
At the previous hearing, the court of additional district and sessions judge Jaspal Verma had given three weeks to the railways to pay the pending land-acquisition compensation of Rs1.03 crore to the farmer,Sampuran Singh. Till then the train will remain the court’s property, it said. The farmer had even moved an application in the court seeking auction of the train for recovery of the money that the railways failed to pay to him.
On Friday, railway authorities deposited Rs 73 lakh before the court and requested to release the train. The railways stated in the application that the court cannot order to attach the property as per a precedential order by the Karnataka high court. They said the orders were issued in their absence; and they expressly quoted section 187 of the Railway Act to argue that the train could not be attached.
But the farmer’s counsel, Rakesh Gandhi, said the Karnataka high court order is not applicable to Punjab. “Shatabdi was attached when it had halted at the station. The railways cannot file objections at this stage.”
It was on March 16 that the court had ordered attachment of the train after the railways failed to comply with the court’s order issued in 2015 to clear the farmer’s dues. It also ordered attachment of the office of the station master. Section engineer Pradeep Kumar had then got the train released on ‘superdari’ from the court official at the railway station.
The case goes back to acquisition of land for the Ludhiana-Chandigarh railway line in 2007. The compensation was enhanced by court from Rs 25 lakh an acre to Rs 50 lakh; and Sampuran was entitled to Rs 1.47 crore. But the railways paid only Rs 42 lakh. While the original claim petition was filed in 2012, the court ordered the railways to pay the remaining amount to him in January 2015.