Roshni Scam: Revenue Authorities Not Cooperating In Probe, Says CBI

SRINAGAR: Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Tuesday informed the Division Bench of High Court comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Puneet Gupta that Revenue authorities of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are not cooperating with it in the ongoing probe into the infamous Roshni Scam and repeated requests about the furnishing of records are not being taken seriously.

According to report, when the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) No.19 of 2011 and 62 Review Petitions as also applications seeking clarifications came up for hearing, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) counsel Monika Kohli, in the open court, informed the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal that pursuant to earlier directions in the main Public Interest Litigation, the premier investigating agency of the country had filed Action Taken Report on June 16, 2021 in a sealed cover.

Quoting Monika Kohli newspaper Daily Excelsior reported that the Division Bench was informed that CBI has registered 17 FIRs into the Roshni Scam and investigation into four FIRs has already been completed. “However, the Revenue authorities of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir are not cooperating with the CBI and repeated requests about furnishing of records and information are not being taken seriously”, Advocate Monika Kohli submitted.

Though Advocate General D C Raina denied the same yet the CBI counsel reiterated the same and submitted that this has also been mentioned in the status report dated June 16, 2021.

On this, the Chief Justice, in the open court, asked the Advocate General to inform the court about the steps taken by the J&K Government to implement the earlier directions of the Division Bench. “The Government has cancelled all the mutations made under the Roshni Act”, newspaper Daily Excelsior quoted the Advocate-General as saying.

The Chief Justice again asked, “whether you have taken possession of the land after the cancellation of mutations”. On this, the Advocate General submitted, “the Government has taken over the open land but no coercive action has been taken in the light of the statement made before the Supreme Court”.

It is pertinent to mention here that in the month of January this year, the J&K Government had made a statement before the Apex Court that no coercive action would be taken against those persons who have approached the top court against the High Court verdict of scrapping of Roshni Act of 2001 as they were not “land grabbers or unauthorized people”.

The J&K High Court had, on October 9, 2020, declared the Roshni Act “illegal, unconstitutional and unsustainable” and ordered a CBI probe into the allotment of land under the law.

The Advocate General prayed before the Division Bench that in the review petitions which were filed after January 28, 2021 the delay should not be condoned. Considering the plea of Advocate General, the Division Bench directed, “in all those review applications which have been filed after the previous order dated January 28, 2021 and those which are likely to be filed henceforth the review petitioners have to explain the delay on merits”.

“On one of the previous occasion, the court has noted that there are as many as 43 review applications filed for review of the judgment dated October 9, 2020, The delay in filing those review applications, if any, was condoned”, the DB said, adding “today it has been informed that some more review applications have come to be filed and to be precise the number is 62”.

The DB directed the Advocate General to prepare a synopsis in a tabulated form concerning each of the review petitions in two sets, those filed up to January 28, 2021 and those filed thereafter. “In addition to the review applications, there are several applications seeking clarification of judgment and order”, the DB said, adding “those applications would also be considered along with the review petitions and the review application filed by the State would be considered as the leading review petition”.

In the meanwhile, Senior Advocate P N Raina, who was appearing on behalf of few beneficiaries, submitted that those FIRs in which the investigation was completed by the Anti-Corruption Bureau, should be handed over to the agency of the UT and this is the plea of the Government also.

However, the Chief Justice, in the open court, said “we are not going to pass orders in peace meals”.

As agreed to by the most of the counsel for the parties, the DB directed for listing of matter on September 6, 2021, reported Daily Excelsior.

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