DB reserves judgment in Roshni scam

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Sept 23: Division Bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal today reserved judgment in an application seeking Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the infamous Roshni land scam.
The Application No.48 was filed in the year 2014 in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) highlighting encroachment on 20 lakh kanals of Government land by the powerful land mafia in league with politicians, Revenue and Police officers.
During the course of hearing, Advocate Ankur Sharma submitted, “given the structural problems and political interference crippling the ACB, both of which are reflected in its conduct of last 6 years of investigation, the time is ripe to bring in an independent and professional agency like CBI for investigation”.
“The conduct of ACB is “suspect” and we can’t have suspects investigating the suspects”, he further submitted, adding “since beneficiaries include Ministers, politicians, IAS/KAS officers, the ability of the ACB is crippled from within”.
While referring to CAG’s Report No. 1 of 2014, he submitted that an estimated loss of Rs 25,000 crore has been caused to the J&K exchequer by criminal and wrongful implementation of Roshni Act. “Given its nature and quantum, Roshni scam is unprecedented in the history of J&K and finds no parallel in modern democracies as such CBI enquiry is imperative”, he further said.
Advocate S S Ahmed drew the attention of the Division Bench towards various interims orders wherein displeasure was expressed with regard to Deputy Commissioners of six districts who intentionally and deliberately delayed the handing over of records to the State Vigilance Organization (now ACB).
He further submitted that Accountant General J&K also accused Govt for not cooperating with the audit teams and Accountant General was compelled to hold a press conference highlighting indifference of the J&K Govt.
He said that only High Court monitored CBI investigation would bring the culprits to book as nothing has been achieved since 2013.
Advocate Sheikh Faraz Ahmed also advanced arguments and submitted that the case should not be entrusted to CBI. He also highlighted that beneficiaries being representing by him never availed the benefit of Roshni scheme and they have been falsely implicated in the scam.
After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed in the PIL whereas Senior AAG SS Nanda appearing for the UT Govt, AAG Raman Sharma for ACB/GAD, Advocate Sheikh Faraz Iqbal for interveners/beneficiaries of Roshni scheme, Advocate Adarsh Sharma for JDA, Senior Advocate MA Goni appearing for occupants of State lands, Senior Advocate RK Gupta with Advocate Udhay Bhaskar and Senior Advocate PN Raina with Advocate JA Hamal, DB came down heavily on the slackness on the part of ACB and the delay on the part of GAD in granting prosecution sanction.
Accordingly, Division Bench reserved its order both on entrustment of Roshni land scam to CBI and also in Application No 1972/2020.