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World

March 21, 2017

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Indian farmer becomes owner of an express train!

Indian farmer becomes owner of an express train!

MUMBAI: A farmer in northern India became the owner of an express train last week after a court awarded him the train in a decade-old land acquisition case, highlighting the lengthy and sometimes absurd court battles over land in the country.

Sampuran Singh approached a local court after state-owned Northern Railways in 2012 failed to adequately compensate him for land it acquired in 2007, his lawyer Rakesh Gandhi said.

When the railways failed to pay more compensation as ordered by the court in 2015, Singh appealed to a district court in Punjab state, which awarded him the station master’s office and the 20-coach passenger train.

"My client is a poor farmer, and he was paid less than half the compensation ordered," said Gandhi, who handed the court order to the train driver last week with Singh.

"But we let the train go, as we did not want to inconvenience the passengers," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Railway authorities have asked for three weeks to pay the money due to Singh.

As land is sought for industrial and development projects in India, more such acquisitions are being contested in court, largely over compensation.

With a confusing web of land laws, matters related to land and property make up about two-thirds of all civil cases in the country. The award of a train is one of several odd rulings by Indian courts in land cases in recent years, using the seizure of state property to enforce judgements that might otherwise be ignored.

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