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‘Roshni scam’: CBI initiates 4 preliminary enquiries to probe complicity of JDA officials with encroachers

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New Delhi:  Widening its probe in Roshni scam cases in Jammu and Kashmir, the CBI has registered four preliminary enquiries into the alleged non-compliance of high court directives by officials of the Jammu Development Authority (JDA) and others to “cover up” the complicity in illegal acts of encroachment of land.

The first enquiry registered by the CBI relates to matter pertaining to the encroachment on 784 kanals, 17 marla of land in Gole, tehsil Jammu which was transferred to JDA.

A preliminary enquiry (PE) is the first step initiated by the CBI to assess criminality in prima facie allegations levelled by a complainant. If the allegations appear to be serious enough, the agency proceeds with an FIR or else the PE is closed.

On April 24, 2014, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had directed the deputy commissioners of Jammu, Samba, Udhampur, Srinagar, Budgam and Pulwama districts to submit the compliance report on handing over the relevant record of the present case to the vigilance director, who was enquiring into the matter.

In spite of subsequent repeated directives of the high court, no action was initiated by the competent authorities.

“The above court proceedings establish the reluctance of these senior officers and all authorities revenues, Jammu Development Authority etc. to assist the inquiry, which reluctance in fact tantamount to obstruction and hurdles created by these authorities to prevent disclosure of the truth, protect law breakers and facilitate misappropriation of public properties of which they were guardians.

“Such acts and omissions of these officials tantamount to complicity in the illegal acts and criminal offences. These officers in the State have flouted court orders with impunity,” the high court had noted while handing over the probe to the CBI.

The second preliminary enquiry registered by the CBI pertained to alleged encroachment on 154 kanals of land and its conversion to commercial use by a businessman named Bansi Lal Gupta in collusion with unidentified JDA officials and private persons, officials said.

Gupta has allegedly covered the JDA land with plinth and four walls but managed to get rights under the Roshni Act.

“Since the land was duly recorded JDA land in the revenue record and in view of /bar contained in Section 3(b), the case in hand for conferment of ownership rights should have been rejected at the threshold on this score only by the then district collector, Jammu,” the high court had noted and sought a response which was not furnished by authorities.

The divisional commissioner of Jammu in August had filed a response stating that a committee has been formed to resolve the matter.

“We have strong apprehension that the JDA and the revenue authorities have now commenced a huge cover-up exercise now,” the high court had noted.

The CBI has registered third preliminary enquiry into refusal of JDA to comply with court orders to demarcate of 66436 kanals of land transferred to it by the government.

The high court noted that the non-compliance of its orders by the JDA “reflects the depth of involvement of the official machinery with the encroachers”.

“It was observed that the revenue department had entered into superficial correspondence with the JDA with regard to transfer of the land and its demarcation,” it had said.

The court on November 12, 2014 had directed the revenue department as well as the JDA to file a status report with regard to the demarcation of this balance land which has not been complied with even after six years.

“Having seen the record of this case, we are compelled to state that the non-compliance was for obvious reasons,” the court had noted.

The fourth preliminary enquiry pertains to publication of Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Rules, 2007 in purported exercise of power under section 18 of the Roshni Act in the official Gazette on May 5, 2007.

“It seems that no approval of these rules was sought from the legislature and they were unauthorisedly published in government Gazette,” it had noted.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act 2001 known as Roshni Act was enacted on November 9, 2001 and was published in the government Gazette on 13th November, 2001.

The law was repealed in 2018.

“The very enactment of the J&K State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Act, 2001 as also its amendments and J&K State Land (Vesting of Ownership to the Occupants) Rules, 2007 are completely unconstitutional, illegal, unjustified and void ab initio,” the high court had held.

After the orders of the high court to the CBI to take over investigations from Vigilance Bureau of Jammu and Kashmir, the agency has registered nine FIRs in the matter.

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