Expresses concern over slow investigation by ACB
JAMMU, Sept 22: Division Bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal today dropped sufficient hints about transferring the infamous Roshni land scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) of Jammu and Kashmir has failed to make substantial progress despite lapse of several years.
The hints were dropped by the Division Bench while hearing arguments in the much-publicized Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting encroachment of 20 lakh kanals of Government land in the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir and an application filed in the year 2014 seeking entrustment of Roshni land scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
After hearing in length the arguments of Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the PIL and Advocate Ankur Sharma appearing for the Application No. 48 of 2014, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal, in the open court held through virtual mode, expressed serious concern over the slackness on the part of Anti-Corruption Bureau in investigating the scam, which caused loss of several thousand crores of rupees to the exchequer of Jammu and Kashmir.
The DB also expressed anguish over slow pace of investigation in 10 out of 17 FIRs registered by the then State Vigilance Organization (presently Anti-Corruption Bureau). These FIRs are 8/2009 registered by Police Station Vigilance Organization Kashmir, 6/2014, 16/2014, 3/2015, 4/2015, 5/2015, 23/2015 registered by Police Station Vigilance Organization Jammu, 17/2014, 26/2015 and 18/2016 registered by Police Station Vigilance Organization Kashmir.
After going through status report dated September 9, 2020 filed by General Administration Department through Additional Advocate General Raman Sharma in pursuance to the orders dated August 11 and August 27, 2020 respectively mentioning the date-wise summary of three FIRs pending for grant of prosecution sanction, the DB expressed displeasure over taking of 2 to 4 years for considering the prosecution sanction in the cases in which investigation was concluded several years back.
“It appears that those at the helm of affairs are not interested to ensure prosecution of the offenders”, the DB said and said that like Patnitop violations this case merits to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) so that entire Roshni land scam is completely unravelled.
As DB could not complete the hearing because of technical problems, the case was directed to be listed tomorrow morning for further arguments on entrustment of Roshni land scam to the Central Bureau of Investigation.
Earlier, during the course of hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed and Advocate Ankur Sharma submitted that Anti-Corruption Bureau has miserably failed to investigate 17 FIRs effectively and much delay has been caused.
“The Roshni land scam was unearthed by Comptroller and Auditor General of India and on the intervention of Accountant General J&K some test checked cases were picked up in six districts namely Anantnag, Jammu, Udhampur, Pulwama, Srinagar and Budgam”, Advocate Ahmed submitted, adding “the Accountant General had repeatedly indicated more than 500 test checked cases in these districts which were randomly taken up”.
It was further submitted that 17 FIRs were registered in 2014 and 2015 but challan was presented in only two FIRs-34/2014 and 30/2015 registered at Police Station Vigilance Organization Kashmir. “In three FIRs—15/2014 registered at Police Station Vigilance Organization Jammu and 19/2014 and 18/2014 registered at Police Station Vigilance Organization Kashmir the prosecution sanction is awaited for the last several years”, Advocate Ahmed added.
“The scam deserves to be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation as bureaucracy is exerting undue pressure and has succeeded in getting prosecution sanction declined from the General Administration Department in respect of an IAS officer although proposal was required to be submitted to the Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India”, he said, adding “six years have lapsed but investigation has not been completed in 17 FIRs although these are based on test checked cases only”.
It was pointed out by Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed that on the directions passed in the instant PIL the Divisional Commissioner Jammu and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir have already submitted multiple volumes of compilations mentioning that more than 20 lakh kanals of Government land is under encroachment in Jammu and Kashmir.