ACB Court rejects final report and directs SSP ACB to further investigate the scam

 In a significant order nailing two Senior IAS Officers (Former Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sudhanshu Pandey and Former Deputy Commissioner Jammu Hirdesh Kumar Singh) and middle rung Revenue Officers and officers of Jammu Development Authority, the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu Y.P. Bourney has rejected the closure/final report submitted by Anti-Corruption Bureau Jammu arising out of FIR No.06/2014 with regard to the State land measuring 05 Kanals and 02 Marlas bearing Khasra No.781 situated at Village Deeli (Marble Market), Tehsil and District Jammu with directions to the SSP ACB Jammu to further investigate in light of the observations made in the order and also to widen the scope of investigation for including within its ambit all encroachments by anybody and everybody whosoever unfazed by their status or position.

After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed appearing for the complainant and Additional/Special PP for the State/ACB, the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu while rejecting the closure report, came down heavily upon two senior IAS Officers and observed that from the perusal of the records produced by ACB it is clear that these officers/officials acted in unison for bestowing the land in question to the beneficiary as largesse. These state of affairs, clearly demonstrate that abuse of the official positions by these officers/ officials for favouring the beneficiary is writ at large. It is baffling to notice that such being the factual position how a clean chit was given to the then Divisional Commissioner Jammu Sudhanshu Pandey (IAS) and Assistant Commissioner Rajinder Singh by the erstwhile Vigilance Organization (now ACB). It is equally disturbing that sanction for prosecution of two more i.e. Hirdesh Kumar Singh (IAS) the then Deputy Commissioner Jammu and Anwar Sadotra the then Patwari was denied in an open bid to save them that too by the authority which was not competent to do so on flimsy grounds as if all these officers/officials were kids having no understanding of what was natural fallout of their actions and, therefore, this final report for closure of the case cannot be accepted being against the facts and circumstances established during the course of the investigation.

The Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu further issued directions to SSP ACB Jammu that the role of the officers/officials of the JDA be also looked into for their deliberate acts of omissions and commissions to take charge of the land immediately after it was ordered to be transferred to JDA by the Government and taking further steps to protect and preserve the same from the on-slot of encroachers and land sharks and also to recommend appropriate action against those who have already raised constructions of residential and commercial nature over the land encroached for re-claiming/recovering the costs thereof by imposing exemplary penalties. The Court looking into the public interest involved in the matter further directed that given the delay that has already occurred, it is expected that the process is completed at the earliest without further loss of time so that the whole exercise does not become a casualty during the process itself.

The Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu while coming down heavily on the final report further observed that it was and should have been very well known to all the officers and officials involved that all State lands within the municipal limits of twin cities of Jammu and Srinagar already stood transferred to Jammu/Srinagar Development Authorities by order of the Government. Though much of the desired, as is expected from the ACB, the Premier Investigating Agency of the State, is left out yet whatever has been done was sufficient to reveal prima facie the involvement of the accused named in the instant case and the material on record clearly shows that it was very well known to these officers that no entry of being in occupation of land in question existing in the revenue records favouring the beneficiary which was a pre-condition for entertaining the claim for regularization. No Aks Tatima of the land in question was prepared which was another basic requirement and the possession on spot was to be verified there-from only. Instead, Dasti Khakas was prepared by the Patwari concerned twice within a week’s time which also differed in every respect. The Deputy Commissioner not only accepted the reports but also noted unequivocally that Tatima Shajra was attached to the application, ignored to mention about the entry in the Girdawari register and above all certified that the case was examined in his office and that applicant fulfilled the necessary conditions for regularization of land in his favour under commercial category. The Price Determination Committee headed by Sudhanshu Pandey (IAS) the then Divisional Commissioner Jammu ignored all these illegalities and went on to determine the price straightway in an arbitrary manner without assigning any reason as to how they had arrived at and found the rate of the land in question to be just and reasonable.

The Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu also passed strictures against the casual approach of the officers of JDA by observing that the officers of JDA also took no effective steps other than addressing a few communications here and there to gain control of such a big chunk of land of immense commercial value for the reasons which are more than obvious. Rather, their stupendous silence even after having full knowledge of the situation and market value of the land and also its susceptibility to encroachments points towards theirs being the beneficiaries in some way of this GREAT OFFICIAL LOOT. The Court observed further that the final report of ACB states very candidly that officials of the Revenue Department had been avoiding the demarcation of the land since there was a deep rooted nexus between police, bureaucrats, politicians, businessman, media persons etc. and in fact two police pickets established over the land in question for its protection, were removed and within no time two banquet halls were raised illegally thereon within no time under the name and styles of JAMMU PLAZA and JK RESORTS. However it is not clarified who raised those banquet halls. It has been added that residential houses of bigwigs including Mr. Raman Bhalla Ex-Revenue Minister, Subash Choudhary, Om Parkash Ex-MLA, Mr. Choudhary Retired SP, Mr. Mirza DySP, Mohan Meakin Proprietor of Anchor Firm etc were existing over the land in question.

With these observations the Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu Y.P. Bourney returned the final/closure report arising out of FIR No.06/2014 and directed SSP ACB Jammu to further investigate in the light of the observations made hereinabove.  JNF