In a case calculated to make one sit up and wonder, a court has awarded a whole train to a Punjab farmer in lieu of compensation for his acquired land.
The case dates back to 2007 when Singh, now 45, had moved the court to seek enhanced compensation for his agricultural land acquired by the Northern Railways to build the Ludhiana-Chandigarh railway line.
Initially, the railways agreed to pay Rs25 lakh an acre to Singh. However, the court enhanced the compensation to Rs50 lakh an acre, entitling Singh to Rs1.47 crore. But the railways paid only Rs 42 lakh.
On Wednesday, as the railways had not cleared the entire compensation, the court awarded the Swarna Shatabdi Express train that runs between Amritsar and New Delhi to Singh.
The court of additional district and sessions judge Jaspal Verma attached the train (number 12030) at the Ludhiana station - technically giving it to the aggrieved farmer - as the Northern Railways failed to comply with the court's order of 2015 to provide enhanced compensation of Rs 1.05 crore to him. It also ordered attachment of the office of the station master."
What followed after the verdict is more hilarious. Singh and his lawyer Rakesh Gandhi took the court order to Ludhiana railway station where they waited for the train to arrive before handing the document to the driver. The officials of the station later secured an interim court order giving them control of the train until the case is heard again on Saturday.
"If they fail to pay the money by Saturday then the court can sanction an auction," Gandhi said of the 20-coach express train.
The case of handing over a train to an aggrieved farmer by a court is not new in India. In fact, several courts in the past have unsuccessfully awarded trains to aggrieved farmers over unpaid dues by the railways.