Taj appears before Accountability Commission

FOREST LAND GRAB CASE

UMER MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Dec 17: Minister for PHE and Flood Control, Taj Mohiuddin on Monday appeared before the State Accountability Commission (SAC) to respond to the contempt notice served to him last week for making “false claims.” The Commission had slapped contempt notice to Taj for making “false claim” that SAC while closing the case pertaining to alleged forest land grab had given clean chit to him.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that Taj along with his lawyer Shah Muhammad Chaudhary appeared before the full bench of the Commission comprising justice Y P Nagrota and Justice Hakim Imtiyaz Hussain today and made submissions as to why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him.
Taj, according to sources, submitted that he has not issued any handout wherein it was claimed that the SAC had exonerated him of the charges of forest land grab. “During his more than hour-long presence before the Commission, he (Taj) repeatedly asserted that he has not issued any statement of such nature to media,” sources said, adding that Taj also argued personally before the Commission after getting permission for the same from the bench.
Taj, however, submitted that he has stated, in the letter written by him to the Forest Minister that the matter stands looked into by the Accountability Commission in the year September 2005.
After hearing the arguments of Taj and his lawyer, the Commission reserved the judgment on whether to initiate contempt proceedings against him. The case has been now listed for December 24.
Pertinently, the Commission after taking suo-motto cognizance of a newspaper report had served contempt notice to Taj on December 7. The media reports, quoting Taj, as saying that he had been given clean chit by SAC and Vigilance Organization, prompted the Commission to issue contempt notice to the Minister.
“From the reports, the statement made by cabinet minister Taj Mohiuddin, prima facie appears to be false which may amount to contempt of the Commission under the provisions of the J&K Contempt of Courts Act 1997,” the Commission had said.
Pertinently, Taj had told this newspaper on November 13 that he had been given clean chit by SAC in the alleged forest land grab case.
“The case regarding grabbing of 13 kanals of forest land at Sedow in Shopian district of south Kashmir was first investigated in 1985 by the forest department through its then district forest officer (DFO). His report did not find anything against me and instead he made it clear that the land did not belong to forest department,” he had said.
“Similarly, the case was investigated by State Accountability Commission (SAC) in 2005 and in 2011 by SVO as well. None of the three probes found me guilty of grabbing the forest land,” Taj had claimed.
Taj is mired in controversies since October this year after Legislative Council (LC) chairman Amrit Malhotra constituted a House Panel to inquire into the matter of alleged forest land grab against Taj. The Committee was disbanded on November 12 following the pullout of NC legislators from the panel and pressure from Congress legislators.

Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 17 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 18 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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