Bhalla’s Palatial Mansion: Court Directs for Probe Status



Taking serious note of a petition, the Court Monday directed the government to submit a detailed status report about a case involving a former minister who has allegedly constructed a palatial mansion on the government land in Jammu.

Justice Tashi Rabstan of J&K High Court, Jammu Wing issued notices to the Commissioner/Secretary GAD, Director State Vigilance Organization and SSP Vigilance Organization Jammu in a petition filed by Prof SK Bhalla a Social Activist seeking constitution of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe his complaint which is directed against former Revenue Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Raman Bhalla who has allegedly constructed a palatial house on State Land comprised in khasra number781 situated at Deeli hamlet of District Jammu.

After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Irfaan Khan, Suraj Singh and Rahul Raina appearing for the petitioner Justice Tashi Rabstan directed Director State Vigilance Organization and Senior Superintendent of Police Vigilance Organization Jammu to submit the status of the petitioner’s complaint dated May, 5, 2015 by and before the next date of hearing. The Court looking into the importance of the issue directed the Registry to list this matter in the week commencing 6th July, 2015.

In the petition it is alleged that Congress leader and  former Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla has allegedly raised a palatial house on State Land comprised in Khasra number 781 situated at Village Deeli (Marble Market), District Jammu when the Municipal Corporation Jammu has sanctioned the building permission in favour of Raman Bhalla for the land comprised in Khasra No.778 and 779 situated in the same village. It is further stated that the Ex-Minister has allegedly grabbed the state land adjoining Satyam Resorts and the functionaries of the State in Revenue and JMC acted as mute spectators only due to the political clout of Raman Bhalla.

During the course of arguments Advocate SS Ahmed submitted that total state land comprised in Khasra number 781 is 198 Kanals and 15 Marlas and out of which 154 Kanals and 5 Marlas stood transferred to JDA and rest of the land has been found recorded in the possession of different persons. He further submitted that SVO has also initiated a suo-moto enquiry into the encroachment of State land by the former Revenue Minister with regard to Khasra No.781 and the said enquiry was reportedly started in February, 2015 and the enquiry has been going on at snail’s pace and the SVO is trying to hush-up the matter in view of the stature of Raman Bhalla as no serious efforts are being made to make the probe fair and time bound.

He further argued that the SVO cannot sit over the matter for months together as they have been doing in number of cases and with the passage of time the evidence gets destroyed and virtually the cases lose their sheen.

In the petition, according to CNS, it is further alleged that Raman Bhalla had been patronizing and shielding the tainted bureaucrats and land mafia during his tenure as Revenue Minister and the same is evident from a D.O. Letter No.PS/HRM/09/387 dated 12-10-2009 written by Raman Bhalla to the then Vigilance Commissioner, J&K wherein the said Minister recommended closure of FIR No.08/2009 PS VOK (Infamous Gulmarg Roshini Land Scam) in which on the intervention of the State High Court in WPPIL No.9/2012 titled Sheikh Muhammad Shafi v/s Union of India & others the challan was presented against former Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Mehboob Iqbal (IAS), Baseer Khan (IAS) the then Deputy Commissioner, Baramulla and more than 10 accused including field revenue staff and top hoteliers of Kashmir.

The petitioner has further alleged that SVO is nailing small fries leaving big sharks as SVO is State Controlled Investigating Agency and its officers are accountable to the GAD and because of the political intervention the big sharks are not touched and under compulsion their cases are taken up half heartedly so that with the passage of time these cases die their own death.

Advocate SS Ahmed argued that although the probe in this case was initially started on a source report way back in February, 2015 but till date no demarcation of the disputed land/structure has been done which establishes the lackadaisical approach of the SVO and appropriate directions are warranted so that demarcation is conducted with utmost promptitude and the probe is finalized on its merits. He further submitted that this is a fit case where monitoring is required so that periodic reports are summoned from SVO with regard to the progress achieved in the case.

The petitioner has prayed for the constitution of SIT and also directions to the Director SVO to file an affidavit disclosing as to why FIR under Section 5(2) J&K PC Act was not registered against the accused former Minister.

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