The Delhi High Court has imposed a cost of Rs 1 lakh on the Directorate General of Defence Estates (DGDE) which failed to compensate an 87-year-old man whose land in Pathankot was taken by the authorities five decades ago.

The High Court said the DGDE certainly cannot take the property of a citizen without paying the due compensation on the “specious ground” of some sanction to be obtained from within the Department.

“The petitioner (Mohinder Lal) has clearly been wronged and in fact, needs to be compensated for the same,” Justice Navin Chawla said in the September 7 order.

The court also said that Lal had been forced to file this petition and pursue it due to complete apathy shown by the authorities and their inaction.

“The petitioner is aged 87 years and even at this age he is being made to run around for his legal and legitimate dues,” it said.

The man, represented through advocate Tarun Rana, said that his agricultural land in Punjab’s Pathankot area was requisitioned by the DGDE for defence purposes under the Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act, 1952 through a March 1970 notification.

The advocate said the first order to pay compensation was passed by a trial court in Punjab in 1987, then by the Punjab and Haryana High Court and also the Supreme Court. However, no amount was paid to Lal till date.

Rana said Lal, a social worker, even at this age was regularly helping needy patients coming to hospitals here. He also helps them financially for their treatment.

The man approached the Delhi High Court seeking direction to the authorities to comply with the 2011 order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and make payment of the compensation due to him along with interest.

The amount of compensation to be paid to the man is not yet clear.

The DGDE submitted before the High Court that the matter was pending before the Delhi Cantonment office for grant of sanction to make payment of the awarded amount to Lal.

It said in the status report that all efforts were being made for making payment to the man and it would be made as and when the sanction was received from the Union Ministry of Defence.

The DGDE also raised objection over jurisdiction of the Delhi High Court to hear the matter, which was rejected by the court.

“As far as the objection on the jurisdiction is concerned, the same is only stated to be rejected inasmuch as the respondent no. 2 (DGDE) itself admits that the compensation amount has not been paid to the petitioner only because of the want of sanction from the Authorities in Delhi to whom the proposal has been forwarded way back on December 21, 2017 followed with various reminders of the Principal Director, Defence Estates, Western Command, Chandigarh. Therefore, the cause of action has arisen within the jurisdiction of this court,” said Justice Chawla.

Regarding the authorities’ submission that the payment shall be made as and when sanction is received from the Defence Ministry, the court said it was “a totally unacceptable justification” of the DGDE as the Supreme Court by its October 2010 order had enhanced the compensation amount to be paid to Lal and the decision of the apex court should have been complied with.

“The land of the petitioner was acquired in 1970 and the Supreme Court judgment deciding the quantum of compensation payable to the petitioner was passed on October 26, 2010. The petitioner has been forced to file the present petition and pursue the same due to complete apathy shown by the respondents and their inaction…

“The respondent no. 2 shall also pay costs of Rs 1(one) lakh to the petitioner for the present petition,” the court said.

It also directed the DGDE to pay compensation to the man in accordance with the apex court’s verdict within four weeks.

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