Una: In a breather to the Delhi-Una Janshatabdi train, for which the additional district and sessions judge, Una, had issued warrants of attachment if the railways failed to pay land compensation to two farmers, the court on Thursday directed to attach some other property if the payment is not made by May 2.
On Thursday morning, when the court bailiff went to enforce the court orders at Una Railway Station, railway officials showed him photocopies of two bank drafts amounting to the compensation to be paid to the two petitioners, said advocate Arun Kumar Saini who had represented the farmers in the court. He said the bailiff returned and submitted his report in the court, informing that railways has decided to deposit the due amount in the high court. He also requested to stall the process to attach the train, added Saini.
Following the bailiff’s report, the court deliberated whether the amount could be deposited in the high court when the matter was pending before the lower court. Besides, while disposing off their petition earlier, the high court had directed the railways to deposit the money within six months. Saini claimed that unhappy with the delaying tactics, the court then ordered to attach the railways property if due compensation is not paid by May 2.
Additional district and sessions judge Mukesh Bansal had passed the train attachment order on April 9, for the railways failure to pay around Rs.35 lakh compensation to two farmers – Madan Lal and Mela Ram, both residents of Dilwan- whose land was acquired for laying down Una-Ambala track in 1998. If the sum was not paid by April 16, the train would not be allowed to leave the Una railway station, he said. “We had submitted in the court that attachment of train would cause inconvenience to general public and in the larger public interest some other immovable property of railways be attached,” Saini added. He claimed the court has considered their request and asked him to submit a list of properties within three days.
Before dawn on Thursday, an hour ahead of the train’s departure, the farmers, Mela Ram, 68, and Madan Lal, 55, reached Una station with their advocate Arun Kumar Saini for the execution of the court’s order. Fifteen minutes before the scheduled departure — or attachment — however, railway official Sharma informed the court bailiff that the order to release the farmers’ compensation had been complied with.
Two farmers Mela Ram and Madan Lal had approached the court against the delay in compensation payment even after the Himachal Pradesh high court had directed the railways in 2013 to pay the compensation within six week. While Mela Ram is yet to receive his due of Rs.8,91,424, Madan Lal has to get Rs.26,53,814. Saini said that railways had acquired the land to build the Una-Chururu section of the Una-Talwara line in 1998 following which the affected farmers filed a case of low compensation. He said that in 2009, railways too moved the court but in 2001 the district court increased the compensation amount. He said that following this order, while rules made it clear that railways had to go for appeal within three months, the latter approached the high court in 2013 and got stay with the condition that increased amount would be deposited in the court within six weeks. “But railways did not deposited the amount till date,” said Saini.
“Today, they have told the court’s nominee about the money having been deposited. We will ask the court to get the money paid to the farmers at the earliest,” he told. Subhash, Madan Lal’s brother, said, “How can we believe just a piece of paper? The money must come into our accounts. We have sold our land to fight our case for compensation. What we have got has to be distributed among five brothers and our mother. After paying the lawyer and for other expenses, we will be left with peanuts.”
Meanwhile, during Thursday’s hearing, Additional District and Sessions Judge Bansal rejected the Railways’ plea to drop proceedings for the attachment of the train. This was after the court’s representative, Bansi Lal, submitted his report on the morning’s episode. The court observed that the bank drafts were not in the names of the farmers, and that they ought to have been submitted before the Una court, not the High Court – which had already disposed of the case and given orders for payment of compensation in six weeks. Almost 10 months have passed since the HC order.
“We will issue fresh orders on May 2 if compensation is not paid to the farmers before the next hearing,” judge Bansal said.