New Delhi: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has taken over three cases linked to the ignorance of Roshni Act provisions in Jammu and Kashmir while conferring ownership rights of state land to “undeserving persons” in 2015 by inflicting a loss Rs 25,000 crore to the state exchequer.
The probe agency took over these cases in pursuance to J&K High Court’s order. The probe may cause trouble to two working IAS officers (name withheld) who were then deployed in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said that these two officers played a key role in the scam and they currently hold the post of Chief Electoral Officer and Secretary in the government of India.
The CBI filed three separate FIRs on November 12 in Jammu which were earlier registered by the vigilance organisation of Jammu (now Anti-Corruption Bureau of Union Territory of J&K) in 2015 based on a complaint regarding “illegal conferment of state land to beneficiaries under the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (vesting of ownership rights to the occupants) Act, 2001”.
The first case has been registered against unknown officials of the revenue department of Jammu based on allegations that they had conferred undue benefits upon the illegal occupants of the state land by intentionally ignoring the laid down provisions of Roshni Act, thereby conferring ownership rights of the state land wrongfully to selective undeserving persons and hence inflicted huge monetary loss to the state exchequer.
It was further alleged that the purpose of the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (vesting of ownership rights to the occupants) Act, 2001, which was generation of revenues for undertaking developmental works in the state, was defeated.
The second case has been registered against unknown officials of the revenue department in Samba district. It was alleged that the officials had conferred undue pecuniary benefits upon the illegal occupants of the state land by intentionally contravening the legal provisions of the Roshni Act.
It was further alleged that in many cases, ownership rights of state land were conferred in favour of individuals, who were not having the recorded possession in their respective names in the revenue records.
It was also alleged that the rates were not fixed by the Price Fixation Committee, as per the provisions of the Act, and in many cases they were not remitted to the government treasury, thereby causing huge loss to the state exchequer.
The third case has been registered against a private person, a resident of Gandhi Nagar, Jammu, unidentified officials of the Jammu revenue department, and unidentified officials of JDA and others.
It was alleged that the revenue officials of Jammu district had entered into a criminal conspiracy with the private person and conferred ownership rights with regard to land measuring 5 kanal and 2 marlas in Deeli Tehsil in Jammu district.
It was further alleged that the accused in pursuance of criminal conspiracy hatched among themselves had illegally regularised the said state land without the existence of any entry in revenue records and issued NOC in favour of the beneficiary for construction of commercial building on the said land.
The high court had also asked the local ACB to place complete records of all matters regarding land encroachment or Roshni Act before the CBI.
“Officials of the revenue department of Jammu district by sheer abuse of their official position as public servants conferred undue benefits upon the illegal occupants of the state land by intentionally ignoring the laid down provisions of Roshni Act… thereby conferring ownership rights of the state land to selective undeserving persons,” said the CBI FIR.
In March 2014, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report was placed in the state assembly and it mentioned that land sold to private owners between 2007-13 managed to earn just Rs 76 crore instead of Rs 25,448 crore which was the target set by the state government, thus defeating the purpose of the Roshni Act.
The CAG in its report had noted that though the state had lost the considerable size of the land but the principal objective of the Roshni Act that of raising investment in the power sector has not been achieved.
The Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (vesting of ownership rights to the occupants) Act or Roshni Act was passed by the then state assembly in November 2001 and it was enacted in March 2002. The idea was to sell state land to private owners so that funds can be generated for hydropower projects.
The Act saw two amendments in 2005 and 2007. In December 2018, the then J&K Governor Satya Pal Malik had repealed the controversial Act.