TAJ SEEKS SPEAKER’S INTERVENTION

Minister Says Legislative Council House Panel Constituted With Malafide Intention

UMER MAQBOOL

Srinagar, Oct 23: Inquiry into alleged forest land grab by PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Minister, Taj Mohiuddin, took a new turn as the Minister wrote to Speaker, Legislative Assembly, with the plea that “malafide intentions” and “personal enmity” was behind the constitution of the House panel in the Legislative Council on the issue.
Pertinently, LC chairman, Amrit Malhotra has constituted a five-member House panel headed by Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) legislator, Murtaza Khan to go into the allegations of forest land grab against Taj.
The allegations against Taj were leveled by Panthers Party legislator Syed Rafiq Shah on October 11 in the Upper House. Shah had also displayed documents of revenue and forest departments in support of his claim. But Taj termed these allegations baseless and said he will quit from council of ministers if the same were proved correct.
Highly placed sources told Greater Kashmir that Taj has shot off a letter to LA Speaker, Muhammad Akbar Lone and questioned the constitution of House Committee by Malhotra into the allegations against him.
“I as a member of this august House have to bring to your kind notice that Hon’ble chairman of Legislative Council has passed an order implicating me in some forest land case inspite of the fact that the matter was denied in the LC by Hon’ble Forest Minister while replying to the supplementary to a deferred starred question,” the communiqué reads.
According to sources, Taj, in the letter, claims that there are “malafide intentions of maligning his image behind the constitution of House Committee”. “I being a member of this House have certain privileges and you being the guardian of the interests of the members, thereby I require your indulgence in the matter,” Taj urges the Speaker in his letter.
Taj accuses chairman of the house panel, Murtaza Khan of behaving like “Lokpal” by what he asserts “seeking his property statements before holding the meeting of the Committee as well as seeking details of all properties acquired by him under Roshni Act”.
Taj further says that the details sought by the committee are not related to the present case.
Confirming the development, Taj told Greater Kashmir that the constitution of the panel against him is an illegal move.
“The Upper House cannot constitute a committee against an MLA or sitting minister without taking Lower House into confidence,” Taj claimed.
Asked whether he has taken up the matter of institution of inquiry against him with Congress high command, Taj replied in affirmative
“But, I cannot disclose what I have done,” he added.
Sources told Greater Kashmir that the Government is exploring the ways to wriggle Taj out of the trouble. Taj is considered close to National Conference and Ghulam Nabi Azad lobby of Congress.
“Both the legislators of National Conference, Khalid Najib Suharwardy and Dr Bashir Ahmad Veeri, who are part of the house panel, are mulling to resign in a bid to scuttle the inquiry,” sources said, but added, that the move of resignation by NC would be seen as undermining the constitutional authority of LC chairman.
“This (move) will not go down well among the masses as it would be seen as hushing up the case given the seriousness of charges,” they said.
When contacted, NC legislator, Veeri said: “We have not taken any decision yet, but leaking proceedings to the media doesn’t augur well for these platforms.”   According to sources, chairman of the Council can also make replacements in case the members of NC pull out from the panel.
The other members of the panel are: Bashir Ahmad Magray of Congress and Syed Rafiq Shah of Panthers Party.
Meanwhile, LA Speaker Muhammad Akbar Lone has forwarded the letter submitted by the Minister to LC chairman.
“I have taken up the matter with my colleague and we have to resolve the issue in a friendly manner,” Lone told Greater Kashmir.

Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Tue, 23 Oct 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Wed, 24 Oct 2012 00:00:00 IST




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