The Punjab government has decided to move high court staking claim to 6,000 square yard prime land in Patiala, reportedly worth Rs 1,200 crore, the move coming nearly two months after a lower court acquitted all seven accused, including a former divisional commissioner, who were booked for allegedly getting sale deeds of the said land registered in their names.
Financial Commissioner (Revenue) KAP Sinha has asked the government to file an appeal in the Punjab and Haryana High Court staking claim to land, on which Patiala Civil Surgeon’s office was constructed.
Sinha told The Indian Express that he, being custodian of the government property as FCR, has ordered that a civil petition for appeal should be filed in the HC. “I have ordered filing of an appeal in the case. The property is worth hundreds of crores. I have not said anything on the role of the government officials. That was for the Vigilance to see. Their role does not come in my purview. I am concerned with the government property. Hence, I have stated that an appeal should be filed. It is neither a corruption nor a criminal suit. It will be a civil suit. Why should such prime piece of land go to private hands?”
A Patiala court on September 16 had acquitted all the accused, including former divisional commissioner GS Grewal and IAS officer Vikas Garg, in a case registered by Punjab Vigilance Bureau for illegally selling 6,000 square yards of prime land. In the sale deed, owner of the land was shown as Kiraninder Singh, a scion of Patiala royal family, and the khasra number of the property was mentioned as 104.
However, after the sale deed was executed, it was found that the land was owned by the government and occupied by offices of civil surgeon and education department, and actually falls under khasra number 103.
The initial inquiry was conducted by IAS officer and the then divisional commissioner SR Ladhar, who had indicted Vikas Garg, who was Patiala Deputy Commssioner at the time of execution of sale deed, and is now Punjab’s Transport Secretary. Ladhar had also indicted former divisional commissioner GS Grewal for illegal sale of government property. Later, the then chief minister, Parkash Singh Badal ordered the vigilance bureau to register a case.
The vigilance bureau had listed 45 witnesses in the case, including Ladhar, vigilance inspector general V Neerja, SSP Pritam Singh, former deputy commissioner Deepinder Singh and tehsildar AS Thind.
Ladhar, Deepinder and Thind had also deposed that the land belonged to the government.
Before being put up to Garg, the sale deed was put up to his predecessor Deepinder Singh also. But he had refused to accept it. A committee under the Samana SDM had concluded that it was a government land, but Garg and other officials ignored this report and allowed the sale deed, which was executed on the basis of general power of attorney that was annulled by Kiraninder Singh, the vigilance bureau had claimed.