Rashid Paul

Pahalgam Golf Course Scam:  HC asks Govt to file response

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“Officials allegedly distributed compensation to people who had never provided any land for the project”

Srinagar July 24: The High Court today directed the government to file response within four weeks in the Pahlgam Golf Course extension scam where government officials allegedly siphoned off crores of rupees of public money while falsely acquiring land for the project.

A bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Tashi Rabstan directed the advocate general to file the response within four weeks in compliance to court’s earlier directions where the chief secretary had been directed to provide details as to how the officials had allegedly distributed compensation to people who had never provided any land for the project.

The Court had asked the government as to why the matter should not be referred to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for probe to bring to justice the erring government functionaries and beneficiaries in the matter involving huge loss to the state coffers.

“What action should be taken against the erring Government functionaries/officers, including the concerned revenue officers who remained posted in Anantnag and had an occasion to deal with the matter,” the court asked.

The Court wanted to know about present status of the criminal case that was filed by Crime Branch.

“Further course of action would be decided as and when such response and report is filed by the Chief Secretary”, the court said.

The court observed that nomenclature of a sizeable chunk of land handed over by the revenue department to the state Tourism Department has illegally been changed and huge amounts of money extracted by the officials from the state exchequer.

The court also took note of the irregularities in the making of awards of compensation for the acquired land where higher rates were awarded to influential land owners, bureaucrats, political activists and businessmen.

Referring to the violation of court directions in a judgment passed in 2014, the court observed that the concerned functionaries did not take any remedial measures against the award with regard to land acquisition and, instead, waited for two months allowed by this Court in that regard to elapse.

“Thereafter, it appears, the Collector made certain References under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act. Two of these References have come to the notice of the undersigned, mention whereof would be made latter. It would first be appropriate to mention what was the matter and what had transpired during the hearing of the aforesaid seven writ petitions” court said.

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