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Court baffled at allotment of Pakistani land to Indian nationals

LHC rules decision by a civil judge was "legal blunder"

SAMAA | - Posted: Nov 28, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago
Posted: Nov 28, 2021 | Last Updated: 2 months ago

The petition filed in a Lahore court clearly indicates the petitioner lives in India. LHC

In a baffling case of what the Lahore High Court (LHC) has described as “a serious legal blunder” a civil judge in Lahore allotted Pakistani land to some Indian nationals. And it was not a mistake: the allottees produced their Indian identity documents before him.

The authorities quickly annulled the allotment and the decree issued by the said civil judge and the Lahore High Court in a recent verdict has upheld their decision but the case is likely to go down in legal history as one of the rare examples of a court showing kindness to people from an “enemy state.”

Reading the LHC judgment, you may find it difficult to wrap your head around the case.

The following facts emerge from the verdict.

There was an evacuee land in Mauza Malku in Lahore left by people who migrated to India in 1947. Mauza Malki is now part of the Lahore Cantonment area.

At least 23 kanals and 9 marlas of this land were allotted to Muhammad Umar son of Jaggu Meo, a resident of Mouza Aomra in Indian’s Ferozpur Jhirka in 1954 or 1963. The documents (presented to the court by Indian nationals) claimed that Umar had migrated to Pakistan and hence was an “evacuee person.”

Scans of the copies of Indian Voter ID cards submitted at a Lahore court by petitioners. LHC
Scans of the copies of Indian Voter ID cards submitted at a Lahore court by petitioners. LHC

The allotment, however, was cancelled by Revenue officials in 1964 after they found some discrepancies.

Around 45 years later, Abdul Rehman and others filed a case in a Lahore court claiming that they were the legal heirs of Umar who had died in 2002. They requested that the said 23 Kanals and 9 Marlas of land be transferred to them.

Rehman and other petitioners including Subhan Khan, Ilyas Khan, Mst Subahni told the court that they are permanent residents of India. They submitted their Indian identity documents.

The LHC has reproduced the scanned copies of these documents in its judgement.

Ironically, the petitioners also submitted a death certificate in the court showing that Mohammad Umar died in India in 2002. The certificate names the place of death as Umra in Ferozpur Jhirka in the Indian state of Haryana.

The documents submitted to the Lahore civil judge included the copies of voter ID cards issued by the Election Commission of India and Indian passports.

The Indian nationals claimed that Umar’s land was fraudulently transferred to someone else after Umar died and that it must be restored to them.

The civil judge was so kind that he granted their petition and allotted the land in question to them in a decree passed on January 19, 2009.

However, the Chief Settlement Commissioner in the same year restored the said land to the state, effectively annulling the civil judge’s decree.

Rehman and other petitioners this time filed a petition in the Lahore High Court.

The LHC was baffled to learn that the civil judge had allotted Pakistani land to Indian nationals.

Picture shows exterior of Lahore High Court building. (File photo: AFP)

After the last hearing on October 5, 2021, the court issued a verdict that concludes that Muhammad Umar never came to Pakistan and he was a permanent Indian resident, not an evacuee person.

The verdict said the record shows that the land in question was allegedly allotted to Umar in 1963 and cancelled in 1964, but the cancellation was never challenged ever since.

The LHC said that Muhammad Umar and his legal heirs “are foreigners who are also residents of the enemy state, thus by any stretch of imagination, cannot seek a decree to declared them as legal heirs of Muhammad Umar (an Indian national) from a court in Pakistan.”

“The senior civil judge Lahore by committing a serious legal blunder passsed a decree dated 19.01.2009 without having jurisdiction over the parties,” the court said.

The court dismissed the petition and ordered that the cost of Rs500,000 as arrears of land revenue be recovered from the Indian nationals as they got the land allotted to them fraudulently.

The court also ordered the chief settlement commissioner to investigate if any other allotment existed in the name of Muhammad Umar or the petitioners. Such allotments, the court ordered, be cancelled and the land restored to the state.

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One Comment

  1. Syed Razi Uddin  November 28, 2021 4:46 am/ Reply

    Anything is expected from LHC vis-a-vis Sindh High Court and their lower courts.

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