A special tribunal set up by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in May last year to inquire into cases of land-grab by VVIPs in the periphery of Chandigarh has held several Punjab biggies like former Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, and Director-General of Police Sumedh Singh Saini guilty of acquiring land through “illegal means, smacking of fraud, collusion and conspiracy.”

Worse, the tribunal, headed by Justice Kuldip Singh (retd.), in its interim report submitted after examining land records of only eight Punjab villages so far, has held that “the work of protecting panchayat/government/ public lands cannot be left to the governmental authorities” as they have colluded in the fraud.

The tribunal has said that a huge “land-grab scam” is operating in the periphery of Chandigarh where thousands of acres have either been grabbed or are in the process of being grabbed, often with the collusion of officials of the Revenue Department and director/ additional director consolidation who have passed patently illegal orders.

Taking note of the fact that the Punjab State vigilance has been holding investigations into these land deals for several years without any results, the tribunal has suggested that the CBI be entrusted with the criminal investigation of land-grab cases “where the conspiracy with Revenue officials and other high ups cannot be ruled out.”

Among others indicted by the tribunal are the son of former Punjab governor B.K.N. Chibber, Shivinder Singh Brar, Punjab’s Election Commissioner, and the Punjab Cooperative House Building Society, which has 95 politicians and legislators as its members. The society purchased 21.2 acres in 2003 for Rs. 8.19 crore and sold the same to Tata Housing Development Corporation (THDC) for Rs. 96.5 crore.

Similarly, the Working Women Welfare Society, the Punjab House Building Society, Kansal Rural House Building Society and the Tribune Employees and Friends Welfare Society and the Defence Services Cooperative Society acquired land at throwaway prices through “wholly illegal” sale deeds without jurisdiction and later sold the same to the THDC at a hefty profit.