The CBI has taken over three cases related to an alleged land allotment scam that took place in the former state of Jammu and Kashmir in collusion with revenue department officials. This follows last month’s order by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, in which the Act was declared “unconstitutional” and the central agency was directed to probe all allotments.
The agency has registered three separate cases and taken over investigations begun by the Vigilance Organisation of Jammu (now the J&K Anti-Corruption Bureau).
The first case is against unknown officials of Jammu’s revenue department and alleges that they conferred “undue benefits upon illegal occupants of state land” and, therefore, inflicted “huge monetary loss to the state exchequer”.
The second, also against unknown officers of the department in Samba district and alleges that they too had conferred “undue pecuniary benefits upon illegal occupants of state land”. It also alleges that land was allotted at incorrectly-fixed prices and, “in many cases (the amount) was not remitted to the government treasury, thereby causing huge loss to the state”.
The third case is against a private individual in Jammu’s Gandhi Nagar as well as unknown revenue department officials from Jammu and unknown others. The case says the accused officials entered into a “criminal conspiracy” with the private individual over allotment of land in Jammu’s Deeli.
Last month the J&K High Court said all allotments that had taken place under the Roshni Act, or the J&K State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001, would be null and void.
In 1996 the J&K government launched a scheme to vest land ownership rights on people who were occupying state land by paying a part of its assessed value towards the public exchequer. The aim was to regularise illegal occupants while generating funds to build power projects in the state.
In 2004 and 2007 the J&K government under the Mufti Sayeed and Ghulam Nabi Azad amended this allegedly to benefit encroachers. The transfer of land began from 2007, after the then government framed the rules.
In 2018, Governor Satya Pal Malik repealed the act and cancelled all pending applications. In December last year he said: “The implementation of the scheme has been such that it has proved to be a Rs 25,000 crore scam… When I came here, the first thing I did was to end the Roshni scheme and we handed the Roshni cases to the ACB for investigation.”
With input from PTI