HC sets terms of reference for CBI probe in Roshni scam

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Jammu & Kashmir High Court has ordered for Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) inquiry into transfer of state land to the occupants under the Roshni Act, while disposing of a bunch of Public Interest Litigations (PIL) seeking in depth inquiry into alleged discrepancies in the process.

JK High Court Double bench comprising Chief Justice, Justice Gita Mittal and Justice Rajesh Bindal, after pointing out numerous discrepancies and seeking an in depth inquiry by the premier investigating agency issued a string of directions to the Government.

The Double Bench, in view of detailed observations,   directed as follows: The Commissioner/ Secretary to Government Revenue Department, shall ensure that following information regarding district wise State lands as on 1st January, 2001, are compiled and posted on the official website as well as the NIC website. The details of the State land which was in illegal and unauthorized occupation of person(s)/ entities with full identity of encroachers and particulars of the land.

The details of: (a) the applications received under the Roshni Act, 2001; (b) the valuation of the land; (c) the amounts paid by the beneficiary; (d) the orders passed under the Roshni Act; and (e) the persons in whose favour the vesting was done and also further transfers, if any, recognized and accepted by the authorities. The HC sought complete identities of all influential persons (including ministers, legislators, bureaucrats, government officials, police officers, Page 60 of 64 IA No. 48/2014 & CM Nos. 4036, 4065 of 2020 in PIL No.19/2011 businessmen etc.) their relatives or persons holding benami for them, who have derived benefit under the Roshni Act, 2001/ Roshni Rules 2007 and/or occupy State lands.

The Divisional Commissioners, Jammu as well as Kashmir, shall place on record district-wise full details of the encroached State land not covered by the Roshni Act, Rules, Scheme(s), order(s) which continues to be under illegal occupation; the full identity and particulars of the land and person(s)/entities encroaching the same. The Revenue Secretary shall ensure that this information is also posted on the website of the respondents within four weeks.

Translation of records, wheresoever required, shall be expeditiously ensured by the concerned Deputy Commissioner from the Tehsildars and provided to CBI within one week of the need being noticed/informed.

In case, the above directions are not complied with, the Secretary Revenue and the Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir shall be held liable and proceeded against for Contempt of Court.

The Anti Corruption Bureau shall place before the Director, CBI, the closure report in FIR 6/2014 filed on 4th July, 2019 before the Special Judge (AntiCorruption Judge, Jammu) as well as a copy of the order dated 4th December, 2019 passed thereon by the Special Judge, Jammu.

The Anti Corruption Bureau of the Union Territory of J&K shall place complete records of all matters regarding land encroachment/ Roshni Act or Rules being enquired into or cases investigated into by it, before the CBI which shall proceed with the further inquiries and investigations therein in accordance with law. In all cases in which charge sheets stand filed by the Anti Corruption Bureau in the Courts, the CBI shall conduct further and thorough investigation, and, if necessary file additional charge sheets in those cases.

In cases pending for accord of sanction for prosecution before the Anti Corruption Bureau or the Competent Authority, the records thereof shall be placed before the CBI for examination. These cases shall be thoroughly further examined investigated by the CBI and the matter for accord of sanction of prosecution against all persons found by the CBI as involved in the offences, shall be proceeded with, in accordance with law. Page 62 of 64 IA No. 48/2014 & CM Nos. 4036, 4065 of 2020 in PIL No.19/2011

The CBI shall immediately inquire into the three instances at Serial Nos. A, B, C above (paragraph nos. 54 to 82); the matters pointed out in CMs 4036/2020, CM 4065/2020 and all instances of vesting under the Roshni Act and encroachment of State lands by influential persons as above in the details provided by the authorities and proceed further in these cases in accordance with law.

The CBI shall also inquire into the continued encroachments on State lands; illegal change of ownership/use; grant of licences on encroached State lands; misuse of the land in violation of the permitted user; raising of illegal constructions; failure of the authorities to take action for these illegalities; fix the responsibility and culpability of the persons who were at the helm of affairs, who were duty bound to and responsible for taking action; their failure to proceed in accordance with law against the illegalities and instead have permitted/ compounded the same, as also any other illegality which is revealed during the course of the enquiry wheresoever.

The CBI shall specifically inquire into the matter of publication of the Roshni Rules, 2007 without the assent of the legislature. If this is found true, the CBI shall identify the persons responsible who have illegally and dishonestly published the same and proceed in the matter for their criminal liability.

The CBI shall file action taken reports every eight weeks in sealed cover before this court in this case. The Chief Secretary of the Government of the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir shall monitor the matter and ensure that the inquiry by CBI is not hampered in any manner on account of concealment of documents, records, requisite assistance or cooperation on the part of the official machinery.

“Any effort to delay the enquiry by the CBI in any manner should be construed as active connivance by such person(s) with those whose culpability is being investigated,” the court observed.