The murky deals involving Punjab’s top politicians and bureaucrats, who also face charges of grabbing shamlat deh' (common village lands), is all set to snowball into a major controversy as the Congress accused the Akali Dal-BJP alliance government of committing contempt of the House as well as the court. The party also alleged that the government is trying to malign opponents.
The president of the Punjab unit of the Congress, Partap Singh Bajwa, on Saturday denied charges that he owned any piece of shamlat deh land. He said that the allegations by the State Revenue minister, Bikram Singh Majithia, about his having purchased such land and indulging in evasion of payment of taxes, were malicious.
Ruckus in House
The controversy rocked the State Assembly for two consecutive days after reports appeared in a newspaper, where the Congress had sought a ‘time-bound’ probe by a sitting judge of the High Court.
Mr Bajwa challenged the State government to withdraw the Special Leave Petition it had filed in the Supreme Court against Justice Kuldeep Singh panel, which had been constituted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court to probe the involvement of the high and mighty in such deals. He said that on one hand the State government was opposed to the report by Justice Kuldeep Singh panel, on the other the Minister was quoting selective passages to malign political opponents.
The Leader of the Opposition, Sunil Jakhar, said that after seeking legal opinion regarding the sub judice status of the Justice Kuldeep Singh panel, the party's legislature wing would consider moving a motion against Mr Majithia for committing ‘contempt of the House’.
Mr Bajwa also dared the State government to make public the names of other dignitaries, whose names had figured in the Justice Kuldeep Singh's report. He questioned the intent of the Minister not mentioning the names of Akali leaders and senior police as well as civil administration officers.
He said there was a "status quo" order from the court in favour of the owners of the piece of land in Bhardaunjia village, where the State Revenue Minister accused him of indulging in irregularities.
He said that court order was in force since 2003, while he purchased the piece of land in 2011, when the present ruling alliance was at the helm.
Though he sought to accuse the local revenue officials of keeping him in the dark about the dispute over the title and ownership of the land, Mr Bajwa could not defend himself when pointed out that one of "owners" from whom he purchased the land was his younger brother. He could not explain the motive behind purchasing the "disputed property".
However, he denied allegations of using black money as all payments were made through cheque and had been mentioned in the Income Tax return filed by PCB real estate company, which is jointly owned by him and his wife, Charanjit Kaur, who is a legislator.