The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Safe-keeper turns plot-seller

Seven years ago, he was appointed court receiver, entrusted with the safekeeping of large tracts of litigated land on both sides of the EM Bypass.

On Thursday, the receiver stood convicted by Calcutta High Court of selling large chunks of the litigated land under his safekeeping on both sides of the Bypass, from the Kasba connector to Garia.

'This court is convinced of your unbecoming conduct,' Justice Prabir Kumar Samanta of the single bench said in a packed courtroom. 'I shall pronounce the sentence on Friday.' Receiver Shankar Sen, also an advocate, heard out the judgment, standing before the single bench.

According to court documents, Sen was appointed a receiver by the Alipore court in 1998 to oversee the safekeeping of large tracts of litigated land off the Bypass and asked to maintain status quo.

Sen, instead, went about striking land deals with realtors, who promptly erected skyscrapers and other building blocks on the disputed plots.

A vast portion of the land under Sen's supervision was also vested and acquired by the state government, which, in turn, carved up the tracts and parcelled it out to individuals and organisations for construction.

Among these are landmarks like the Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute and the Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, both to the left of the Bypass when going down south.

Some of the institutions are engaged in separate lawsuits filed by the family that claims ownership of the litigated land on which the structures stand.

Way back in 1962, a property suit had been filed in the Alipore City Civil Court with respect to seven mouzas of land on either side of the EM Bypass. The suit had been filed by Bisnupada Sanpui and his co-sharers.

A lawyer, Ranjit Kumar Ganguly, had then been appointed a receiver of the court to oversee the property. Following his death in 1989, Sen was appointed receiver.

Samar Banerjee and Prasun Biswas, counsel for the Sanpuis, had alleged before Alipore court that Sen, after his appointment as receiver, had sold off a substantial portion of the land under his charge to certain property developers without the permission of the court.

They also alleged that Sen had acted immorally and unethically when he allowed another large portion of the land to be vested, which was subsequently carved up by the government and given away as large plots.

They urged the Alipore court to remove Sen from the post of receiver on the grounds of his 'dishonesty, irregularities and illegal acts'.

The case was taken to the high court around two years ago after the Alipore court rejected the prayers of the Sanpui lawyers for Sen's removal.

When the Sanpuis moved an appeal before the high court, Justice P.K. Samanta, after hearing the parties, passed an interim order restraining Sen from dealing with the land concerned without the permission of the court.

'But even after the high court's directive, the lawyer allegedly sold off another portion of land to a promoter. The situation had prompted our clients to move a contempt appeal against Sen. After going through all the records, Justice Samanta, today held Sen guilty of the contempt and convicted him for selling litigated land illegally,' said the Sanpuis' lawyer Samar Banerjee.

Quite a crowd had gathered in court to hear Justice Prabir Kumar Samanta pronounce judgment in the case of a court officer being brought to book.

Email This Page