43 years on, court helps man who lost his land to government

August 2nd, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) He has been fighting a lone battle for 43 years to recover a plot that belonged to his father but was allegedly appropriated and sold by the government as evacuee property. Now the Delhi High Court has taken cognisance of Qayyum Khan’s plight. A division bench of the court has ordered the government to deposit with it the Rs.12,500 it had received from the sale of the plot in south Delhi’s Bhogal neighbourhood, along with interest, before it decides how to move ahead in the case.

Khan’s case exemplifies how the trauma of partition - when many families migrated to Pakistan, resulting in their land and other property being treated as evacuee property - continues to haunt many in India even today.

The irony in Khan’s case was that his father Chand Khan never migrated, and was alive and working in the capital even after partition in 1947. The latter even approached the authorities for restoration of the property but failed to get it back.

It was in 1965, after the plot had been sold by the government, that Qayyum Khan decided to go to court.

The bench comprising Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar last week noted that 60-year-old Khan has fighting the case for 43 years and that the government had been repeatedly appealing against every court decision instead of trying to ease his misery.

The court has also appointed a counsel for Khan, keeping in view his pecuniary condition.

“The money is meagre, but I hope justice will finally prevail,” the frail Khan, who performs odd jobs at the court, told IANS.

Khan’s travails began in 1965, when the 422 sq. yard plot number 591 in Bhogal was sold by the government’s Rehabilitation Department after being classified as evacuee property - meaning that its owner had either migrated to Pakistan after partition or could not be traced.

The land originally belonged to Khan’s uncle and then to his father and he claimed it as the surviving legal heir.

In fact, Khan’s father also owned plot numbers 593 and 594 in the same area but he has not filed any claims for them as he does not have the necessary papers.

Court records show that Khan’s father Chand Khan had only left the area at the time of partition, apparently fearing for his life. But he did not go to Pakistan.

After the Administration of Evacuee Property Act came into force in 1950, all such vacant land was progressively taken over by the government and subsequently sold via auctions.

And that was how the Khan family’s travails began and continue to this day.

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