217 get back land after 16 years of legal battle

PUTRAJAYA: It was a joyous moment for 217 workers on April 21 as their 16-year legal battle with a lawyer over a parcel of land worth RM80 million ended when the Federal Court here ordered that the land be returned to them.

The three-member bench unanimously denied leave to lawyer Gurbachan Singh and four others to appeal to the Federal Court.

Gurbachan Singh, his firm Messrs Bachan & Kartar, Simpang Empat Plantations Sdn Bhd who were appointed receivers and manager, Regal Establishment (in which Gurbachan had an interest) and MBF Finance Bhd had sought leave to appeal against the 2-1 majority ruling of the Court of Appeal last year, ordering them to return the land to the workers.

Today, Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, Federal Court judge Datuk Hashim Yusoff and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar also ordered them to pay costs of RM25,000 to the workers.

In 2006, the Ipoh High Court dismissed the suit filed by the plaintiffs, P Vellasamy and 216 other sub-purchasers of the 1,472ha of land in Hutan Melintang, Perak, against the five.

The Court of Appeal, however, overturned the decision and ordered the five to return the land to the workers last year.

In their statement of claim, the workers said they appointed Gurbachan Singh and his firm as their solicitors to advise them on taking appropriate legal action after they found out that the land would be put up for sale by tender.

They claimed that Gurbachan Singh had used Regal Establishment to purchase the land and changed the ownership of the land to the company.

The workers said they discharged Gurbachan Singh and his firm as their solicitors after realising that the lawyer had fraudulently misrepresented them.

They wanted the court to declare the sale and purchase agreement entered between them and Gurbachan Singh declared null and void.

In their defence, Gurbachan Singh and the other four denied all the allegations. -- Bernama

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