ACB Charges Ex-Horticulture Director, Others In Sopore Mandi Shop Sites Allotment Fraud

ACB Charges Ex-Horticulture Director, Others In Sopore Mandi Shop Sites Allotment Fraud
ACB Charges Ex-Horticulture Director, Others In Sopore Mandi Shop Sites Allotment Fraud

SRINAGAR, May 21: Jammu and Kashmir Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Tuesday registered a case against the then Dy. Director Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Deptt. Kashmir, Mohammad Sultan Teli, then Area Marketing Officer, Sopore, Mohd Ashraf Damnoo and 48 other illegal beneficiaries for illegal and fraudulent allotment of shop sites at Fruit and Vegetable Mandi Nowpora, Sopore.

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A Joint Surprise Check (JSC) was conducted by ACB to investigate the allegations of large-scale bungling in allotment of shops at Fruit Mandi Sopore by Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Department. It was alleged that the Area Marketing Officer concerned in connivance with touts of the Fruit Mandi Union allotted shops at their will against huge consideration and the bonafide applicants who had submitted form along with premiums way back two decades were ignored etc.
It surfaced that Department of Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) invited offers on prescribed forms from eligible Fruit & Vegetable Growers/ Traders/ Commission Agents/ Joint Firms/ Societies/ Federations/ Corporations and other NGOs for allotment of 700 shop sites at Fruit & Vegetable Market Nowpora Sopore vide notice issued under vide No. DHPM/701/2001/1381-92 dated 23.04.2001, with terms and conditions notified vide No. DHPM/701/153/2828-39 dated 23.07.2001 with last date as 09.06.2001 extended up to 29.09.2001. In response to this offer, 595 applications were received with a 1st premium installment of Rs 25,000/- .
The probe revealed that the draw of lots in the allotment of shop sites, as contained in the notification, was dispensed with and allotments were arbitrary. The Area Marketing Officer Sopore namely Mohammad Ashraf Damnoo has even resorted to forgery for accommodating the preferred beneficiaries. Instead of recovering premiums from allotted beneficiaries, Area Marketing Officer Sopore namely Mohammad Ashraf Damnoo enlisted the beneficiaries who had not even applied within the stipulated time, including his own son and brother-in-law. The probe conducted revealed that forty-eight (48) such beneficiaries have been enlisted in the years 2009, 2012, 2013 & 2014 despite cutoff date on 29.09.2001 on same premium Rs. 100,000/- fixed in the year 2001 while the rate of the land increased manifold in the meantime.
The probe also revealed that officers/officials of Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Department kept the matter under dormant till 2009. The allotments were made in disregard to the terms and conditions notified for the purpose. It has also been found that possession and release hold rights of the shop sites have been conferred to the beneficiaries without receiving third installment of premium of Rs. 50,000/- which was one of the pre-requisites of the terms & conditions of the allotment issued by the Department. The then Deputy Director Horticulture & the then Area Marketing Officer Sopore issued allotment orders in favour of 591 applicants without realizing full premium amount of Rs. 1.00 lakh, the outstanding towards the allotees as on 30.06.2021 was Rs. 1,21,88,000/- .
The involved officers/officials of Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Department Kashmir under well-knit conspiracy hatched amongst themselves &with the beneficiaries, by abuse of their officials positions, dishonestly and fraudulently in lieu of pecuniary gains, managed application forms for shop sites at Fruit and Vegetable Market Nowpora, sopore years the cut off date and issued allotment orders in their favour in disregard to the notified terms and conditions which also include their relatives, depriving deserving ones, thus conferred undue benefit upon themselves and the beneficiaries. They deliberately did not take any prescribed panel action against defaulting allotees&did not realize the requisite premium amount well in time, which ultimately resulted into the corresponding loss of Rs. 1,21,88,000/- to the state exchequer 30.06.2021.
The acts of omissions& commissions on the part of accused persons then Deputy Director Horticulture (Planning & Marketing) Dept Kashmir namely, Mohammad Sultan Teli, then Area Marketing officer, Sopore namely Mohammad Ashraf Damnoo, the beneficiaries & others constitute offences punishable u/s 5(1)(d) r/w 5(2) J&K P.C.Act, Svt; 2006 & sections 465,468,471 & 120-B RPC.Accordingly, Case FIR No 06 /2024 was registered in P/S ACB Baramulla and investigation was initiated. Immediately after registration of the case searches were also conducted at the residences of the accused public servants during which various incriminating documents pertaining to the matter were also recovered and seized.
Further investigations in the case are going on.