ISLAMABAD: The top court has ordered the Sindh Board of Revenue to take appropriate disciplinary and criminal action against officials involved in ‘manipulating’ the revenue record to illegally transfer more than 50 acres land of a deceased couple.
“Let a copy of this judgement be sent to the member, Board of Revenue, so that appropriate disciplinary action shall be taken against such officials of the revenue department who have manipulated the relevant revenue record. In case any of them has retired, criminal action may be initiated,” said the order authored by Justice Faisal Arab while hearing a land dispute case filed two decades ago.
The dispute relates to 56 acres and 28 ghuntas of land situated in Deh and Taluqa Tando Adam, District Sanghar. A big part of this was a piece of evacuee land, which was granted to Shah Azizullah Abbasi and his wife Tayyeba Khatoon against their claim.
Abbasi died on May 30, 1992 and was survived by his widow Tayyeba Khatoon, son (respondent No 1) and daughter (respondent No 2). Khatoon also died on September 17, 2002.
To seek transfer of the land in the revenue record in their names, the couple’s daughter and son approached the Mukhtiarkar but they were told that their parents had already sold the property to respondents No 3 and 4 (two individuals). The litigation then continued at different forums.
The Tando Adam senior civil judge on April 30, 2010 held that both individuals had failed to establish that the parents of the respondents No 1 & 2 had sold the land to them.
However, the Tando Adam additional district judge on September 24, 2011 reversed the judgement, which was set aside by the Sindh High Court. Lastly, both individuals challenged the SHC verdict in the apex court, where they failed to prove their case.
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A three-judge Supreme Court bench, led by Justice Mushir Alam and comprising Justice Faisal Arab and Justice Sajjad Ali Shah, on September 7 heard the matter and sought complete revenue record for examination.
The top court noted that the disputed sale transactions made in 1986 and 1987 were based merely on oral statements purportedly made by Azizullah and his wife before the revenue authorities and allegedly witnessed by the other party but no witness from the side of the parents of respondents No 1 & 2.
Additionally, the order said, the disputed statements neither contained their CNIC numbers nor addresses, only their purported thumb impressions, which showed that they were also illiterate.
“Although the CNIC numbers would have helped in confirming that these witnesses actually affixed their thumb impressions on the revenue record, due to the absence of the CNIC numbers, it could not be verified from NADRA’s database. In any case, as none of the witnesses of the disputed statements were examined in court, it is sufficient to hold that the transaction of sale has not been proved.”
The court also noted after the examination of the register of village Forms VII that the page that contained one of the two disputed transfer entries was numbered as ‘58’. The font of the page number ‘58’ is quite bigger than the page numbers on the remaining pages of the same register; and the imprint of page number ‘58’ is also much darker than the imprint of the rest of the page numbers of the register.
“We may mention here that when pages of a register are numbered with a numbering machine, it is not possible that the size of numbers on pages would be different. Even the impression of ink on a particular page of a register would be the same in comparison to previous and subsequent pages.”
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With regard to the disputed sale transaction of 20-34 acres allegedly entered into with Tayyeba Khatoon, it was pleaded that she being a resident of Karachi came to Tando Adam with a relative to record her verbal statement for transferring the land.
"Interestingly, the relative was not made a witness in the purported statement. Then the alleged witnesses of the disputed statement were also not examined in court. Their CNIC numbers too have not been recorded nor have their addresses been given. Even the CNIC number of Mst Tayyeba Khatoon is not mentioned in the statement. This second sale transaction also could not be proved,” said the order.