News Karnataka
Thursday, April 25 2024

Multi-Crore Land Deal in Panchkula Halted Amid Discrepancies

FPI bought equity worth Rs 18,617 crore in May
Photo Credit : File photo

A multi-crore land deal involving a woman IAS officer, her husband who serves as a state information commissioner, and a former high-ranking IAS officer has been halted due to discrepancies flagged by Panchkula revenue officials.

According to a report by The Indian Express, Ambala Divisional Commissioner Renu Phulia lifted a 20-year-old ban on selling 14 acres of land near Panchkula, owned by a former king, in a decision on September 13, 2023. Responding to a request from Prithvi Raj Chhabra, the brother of former additional chief secretary Shashi Gulati, Phulia made the decision in just 16 days, as per the report.

Shortly after this decision, Renu’s husband, SS Phulia, who currently serves as the state information commissioner, along with their son Nilanchal, decided to purchase five acres of this land. SS Phulia, a former IAS officer, assumed the role of state information commissioner in 2022, the IE report adds.

On March 28, Shashi Gulati and her brother went to Panchkula revenue officials to register almost 12 acres of land, claiming to have sold it to four people for Rs 5.26 crore. Five acres went to Phulia’s family, and the rest was to go to Shubham Juneja, the wife of a former Indian Forest Services officer residing in Manimajra. Officials state that the land is worth more than the deal.

On March 29, the state government halted land registrations following a request from Panchkula Deputy Commissioner Sushil Sarwan to Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue) TVSN Prasad for guidance. Prasad promptly instructed revenue officials to cease registering any transfer deeds. Panchkula revenue officials are still assessing the surplus area of the 1,396-acre land formerly owned by King Sardar Bhagwant Singh.

According to official records, Shashi Gulati and her family acquired 14 acres of land from the late king’s legal heirs in Beed Firozadi village, Panchkula district. The late king possessed around 1,396 acres of land across seven villages in Panchkula.

Official sources indicate that certain villages in Panchkula have been under a land stay for 20 years as officials determine which portions of the king’s land qualify as surplus under the Haryana Ceiling on Land Holdings Act, 1972, and which fall under the ‘permissible area.’

On February 24, 2023, the Punjab and Haryana High Court instructed Panchkula’s SDM to reassess the surplus area as per the law. In response, officials began the process.

Meanwhile, in their petition to the Ambala Commissioner, Shashi Gulati’s family requested the revocation of the stay order, arguing that the land in question didn’t fall under the surplus category. They also noted that the stay on sale and purchase had been lifted twice before.

Renu Phulia annulled the stay order issued by the SDM in 2003 with a quasi-judicial decision in September 2023.

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