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A sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) posted in south Delhi has been pulled up by the Delhi High Court for abusing his power and acting in a corrupt manner in a land dispute case.

Justice Shiv Narayan Dhingra while setting aside a December 2009 order passed by Vivek Tripathy, SDM, Vasant Vihar, said: “It is most unfortunate that an SDM holding a responsible post in executive could have acted in such a corrupt manner that he could pass an order without caring for the orders passed by his predecessor in respect of the same land.”

The matter is related to a dispute over 14 biswas of land (1 biswa is 8.2 acres) in Bijwasan Village in south Delhi.

Earlier, the SDM’s senior had passed an order in favour of Sanjeev Kumar Sharma who was declared owner of the land. But Tripathy modified the ruling when his senior’s decision was contested by Usha Puri in Bijwasan village.

“The parties were all along contesting rights over the land in various courts. However, the SDM, in patent abuse of his power, conducted the proceedings on Dec 17, 2009, late at night, in the absence of the petitioner,” the court said in an order delivered last week.

“When the petitioner learnt about the late night proceedings, he went to the SDM but he was not allowed to participate in the proceedings and in gross misuse of his power passed the order,” said Justice Dhingra.

Following a legal battle for several years, the 14 biswas land was allotted to Sharma and physical possession was given to him with the help of local police in 2001. Puri contested the order in various forums but the decisions went against them.

In December 2009, on an application filed by Puri, the SDM passed an ex-parte order in a hurry favouring her, without issuing even a notice to Sharma. Later, he declined Sharma’s plea for re-hearing of the matter

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