Sr. No 4/4. originally published on 2nd April, 2009
HISTORY OF FREEMASONS HALL AT CHANDIGARH-I
Even before the establishment of Freemasons Lodge at Chandigarh, the process had begun for the allotment of Land for the construction of Freemasons Hall, Chandigarh. Vide letter Dt 04.09.1957, W Bro Justice Shamsher Bahadur of District Grand Lodge of England & Wales/ Grand Lodge of India / Regional Grand Lodge of Northern India applied for 4 kanals of land for construction of “Freemasons Hall”.
This request was forwarded by the estate officer to Government of Punjab and was accepted by the Secretary to Government Punjab, Capital Project Chandigarh and approval of the Government was communicated to Estate Officer, Capital Project, Chandigarh vide memo no 14243-59 / IX / 1052 Dt 1st February 1960. Based on this acceptance Estate Officer communicated the allotment of plot for construction of “FREEMASONS HALL” to Justice Shamsher Bahadur as under:-
No 4674 / RCE 78 Dt 9.2.1960
Hon’ble Justice Shamsher Bahadur,
5-j-5, Sector 16-B,
SUB: Allotment of a Plot for construction of “Freemasons Hall”.
Regarding:- Your letter Dt 4.9.1957.
Your request for allotment of 4 kanal of land for the construction of Freemasons Hall can be considered provided the Association agrees to pay the price at residential rates. If this is acceptable, kindly deposit a sum of Rs 1000.00 as earnest money so that Chief Architect and Chief Town Planner may be asked to suggest a suitable site measuring 4 Kanal.
The Estate Officer,
Capital Project, Chandigarh.”
The allotment at residential rates were not acceptable. Hence various representations were made to Governor Punjab & Chief Minister Punjab. Final allotment at concessional rate was made only after undertaking that allotment shall be made in favor of in favor of “Freemasons” Lodge and not Yadavindra Lodge since Freemasons are a benevolent and charitable society. The final allotment letter No 3505 Dt 10.4.1970 issued by Estate Officer was thus issued in favor of “Freemasons Lodge” for the purpose of “Lodge Building”. The final letter of allotment reads:-
No 3505 RCE 200 Dated 10.4.1970
Secretary Yadavindra Lodge No 141 GLI,
C/O Sh A S Sekhon Executive Engineer.
SCF 10/3, Sector 17-E, Chandigarh.
SUB: Allotment of Land to Secretary - Yadavindra Lodge for Educational / cultural /beneficent purpose. (The word beneficent represents “For benefits of all”.
Reference your letter No Nil, Dt 11.3.1970. A site measuring approx 2000 sq yards in sector 18-B is hereby allotted to “Secretary Freemasons Lodge For the purpose of Lodge Building i.e. Free masons Hall” at the following rate i.e. Rs 6 per sq yards for 1st acre and subsequently @ Rs 4 per sq yards.
3. The building constructed thereon shall be dedicated to LODGE PURPOSE and shall not remain sole property of the donor or to be converted by them later to any personal use.
Sd/-The Estate Officer,
Capital Project, Chandigarh.”
As against the then residential rate of Rs 36/- per sq yard. The land was allotted by Chandigarh administration under educational/cultural/ beneficent category at concessional rate of Rs 6/- per square yard. Thereafter for next thirty years none took any interest for completing the formalities i.e. registration of Society and execution of Conveyance Deed. During the tenure of Justice WB A B Saharya, an attempt was made to get the society registered. Membership was kept at Rs 5,000/-.(Rs 3000 for senior freemasons). Freemasonry was then at its helm with more than 200 members. Sh CPS Sahni collected the fee @ Rs 5000 / 3000 each. According to him more than 70 persons had become members. However after collecting money and taking pictures with the Chief Justice A B Saharya, the matter was not taken any further.
When the facts came to the knowledge of the author, undersigned sent copy of relevant records which are in possession of Bro Kulwant Singh to RGLNI. Accordingly it was decided that pending formalities should be completed. Author was part of the meeting convened by Regional Grand Master S Krishnan along with officers of Regional Grand Lodge of Northern India on 25.8.07 at the house of CPS Sahni who was then DRGMNI. In the said meeting Society was asked to complete the matters pertaining to Chandigarh Chapter of Society including amend/draft the constitution which is acceptable to all Masonic bodies of Chandigarh region and get the formalities completed. In pursuance to said meeting, on 29.8.2007, Author applied for completion of formalities. The conveyance was registered on 7.11.2007 & Certificate of Registration of Society was received on 14.11.2007. Author loaned his own funds to you (brethren at Chandigarh) for the purpose of execution of conveyance Deed (Rs 150000) and registration of Society (Rs 15000). Author had extensively renovated the building in 2005 also. Life membership fee was nominal at Rs 250. In all not more than 40-50 paid the fee. All charges were duly paid.
Masonic Polyclinic is paying Rs 2500 pm to Subash for working 2 hours as water boy for 3 days in a week. One ‘brother’ was also paying Rs 2600 pm to his Senior Compounder who was staying at Freemasons hall for working 8 Am 2 PM and 4 PM to 9.30 PM every day. It was injustice to pay skilled person who works for 84 hours per week, same amount as unskilled the person who works for 6 hours a week. On enquiry, I was told that the said ‘Brother’ has given freemasons Hall as rent free, water free electricity free to said compounder for not taking salary. I decided to charge Rajesh (compounder) water & electricity charges. This fact had greatly annoyed the said ‘brother’ who was paying his compounder a skilled labour @ 6 hours a week though getting work for 84 hours a week. The same brother had purchased a disputed house @ half the market rate. In lower court he has engaged one ‘Brother’ ‘free’, at DRT & Nahan he had engaged one brother for ‘free,’ at Simla High Court he has engaged one brother for free. Thus both his residence & profession are courtesy of Freemasonry.
Brethren are aware of sale of Freemasons Hall, Kasuali which was paid by District Grand Lodge of England & Wales. One of the brethren involved therein was then AGM of India. He took away the original file including the original Conveyance Deed on the pretext of meeting with Advisor who was stated to be his class fellow. He never met the advisor and also did not return the file.
On 27.4.2008, I convened meeting of Lodge no 283 at Chandigarh for the purpose of collective renovation of building. Brethren present therein stated that Ashwani Gupta never asked them to involve themselves in Building renovation and also gave their wives free food/dinner. Whereas in exchange of Rs 250 I have not given their wives any gift or even dinners. I decided to opt out of freemasonry.
THE ABOVE MATTER IS PROTECTED UNDER INDIAN COPYRIGHT ACT AND CANNOT BE REPRODUCED, REPRINTED OR DISTRIBUTED WITHOUT PERMISSION OF ITS AUTHOR.