JAMMU, Dec 29: In a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking State Vigilance Organization (SVO) probe into allotment scam in Jammu Municipal Corporation, Division Bench of the State High Court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Kumar today issued notices to Commissioner Secretaries of General Administration Department, Housing and Urban Development Department, Commissioner Jammu Municipal Corporation and Director State Vigilance Organization.
The notices have also been issued to Jeet Lal Gupta, former Commissioner Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department, R S Jamwal, former Joint Commissioner (Adm) Jammu Municipal Corporation, Madan Mohan Khajooria, former PA to JMC Commissioner, Bharat Bhushan, driver JMC, Surinder Kumar, PSO to Commissioner Secretary H&UDD, Balbir Singh (driver SUDA), Narinder Sharma (President NGO-PEACE), Chain Singh, son of Chhato Ram and Kharati Lal, son of Mani Ram seeking their response on or before February 16, 2018.
In the PIL filed by Irtiza Mushtaq, a practicing lawyer of J&K High Court and also an RTI activist, prayer has been made for quashment of orders whereby Jammu Municipal Corporation has allotted 10 Municipal Flats situated at Gandhi Nagar on pick and choose basis to various ex-officers of JMC including some private persons.
When the PIL came up for hearing, Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Rahul Raina, Suraj Singh and Supriya Chouhan appearing for the petitioner submitted that vide Communication No. JMC/ RB/ 1516 dated September 21, 2017 the Jammu Municipal Corporation furnished the information to the petitioner under J&K RTI Act, 2009 and after perusing the RTI information it came to light that JMC has indulged in making illegal/arbitrary allotments of 10 prime Municipal Flats/ Quarters situated at Gandhi Nagar in favour of the officers who had served in JMC at senior positions and later superannuated.
“The JMC has continued to extend allotments up to 40 years at a meager rent of Rs 600 to Rs 900 per month”, Advocate Ahmed said, adding former Commissioner Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department Jeet Lal Gupta has been a major beneficiary of the allotment scam.
“He himself got the Municipal Flat and besides this he successfully managed allotments in the same manner in favour of his nephew Rahul Gupta, son of K L Gupta, driver and PSO”, Advocate Ahmed said, adding “the RTI information has disclosed free for all situation in Jammu Municipal Corporation”.
Another dimension of the scam is the allotment of a cattle pound by former JMC Commissioner Mandeep Kour in favour of the then Joint Commissioner (Adm) R S Jamwal, who has already superannuated. In this case, JMC illegally converted cattle pound into a Municipal Flat and spent lakhs of rupees on its renovation and later gifted the same to the then Joint Commissioner.
On the basis of RTI exposure a detailed legal notice/representation was served to Deputy Chief Minister (Minister Incharge Housing and Urban Development Department), Secretaries of GAD, H&UDD and Commissioner JMC for initiating a high level probe into the illegal/ backdoor allotments of Municipal Flats/ Quarters with a further request to rescind such arbitrary allotments and also to initiate appropriate action against the delinquent officers/officials of JMC.
“Despite the receipt of the legal notice nothing substantial was done by the Deputy Chief Minister and others and the petitioner was left with no other option but to knock the doors of the High Court by filing the PIL seeking court monitored investigation into the allotment scam”, Advocate Ahmed submitted.
The DB was apprised that JMC has allotted several flats/shops to its various officers at throw away prices by throwing the norms to winds and in one such case just opposite Government College for Women, Parade, a Malaria/DTT Centre was illegally allotted to an ex-Chief Khilafwarzi Officer who later converted the same into a commercial establishment.
Advocate Ahmed submitted that appropriate directions are warranted to Director State Vigilance Organization to register an FIR under Section 5(2) J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and the investigation of the scam be monitored till the completion of the investigation.
After considering the submissions of Advocate Ahmed, DB, in the open court, issued notices to the Commissioner Secretary GAD, Commissioner Secretary H&UDD, Commissioner JMC, Director Vigilance and allottees of the Municipal Flats/ Quarters at Gandhi Nagar.