In a decisive action in a graft-for-change-of-land-use (CLU) case of last year, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Wednesday ordered the registration of a criminal case against Congress leader and former chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) Ram Kishan Fauji.
This is the first time in the state that a criminal case has been registered against a political leader on the lokayukta’s recommendation. The order came on the basis of a report of the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Chandigarh, in which a CD allegedly showed Fauji seeking money in lieu of getting CLU permission for some people.
Khattar ordered that the matter be referred to the state vigilance bureau; besides, the suggestions made by the Haryana lokayukta also be implemented and a senior police officer asked to investigate the allegations of corruption.
Lokayukta justice Pritam Pal (retd), who had submitted his report in January this year, had also recommended the registration of a criminal case against Fauji under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
The case had rocked the state on September 6 last year after the INLD leaders, including Ellenabad MLA Abhay Chautala and state president Ashok Arora, released a CD to the media, made by the party in a sting operation, allegedly showing Fauji seeking Rs 5 crore in lieu of getting the CLU permission to some people for a land in Gurgaon.
The INLD leaders had done this keeping the ensuing Vidhan Sabha session in mind as the party MLAs, the principal opposition party, hours later created a ruckus in the assembly. Following this, the speaker suspended them for the remaining session.
However, the Congress government, while rubbishing the charges, had sent a reference to the lokayukta under Section 8 (1) of the Haryana Lokayukta Act, on September 10, following which justice Pal began the proceedings in the case and recommended registration of the criminal case.
Interestingly, then chief secretary had sent the reference back to the lokayukta on January 27 this year, with a request to review his recommendation, while Fauji, through his counsels on February 3 and again on February 6, had raised the request for the re-examination of the recommendation. Justice Pal, who dismissed the three pleas, held that he found no merit in them.
Then Congress government had since maintained that it was examining the lokayukta recommendations.
The graft taint on the Congress MLAs only got deeper, as the INLD leaders on September 7 last year had released seven more CDs showing Congress leaders, including five MLAs, allegedly seeking money in lieu of getting CLUs licences and other works.
Those in the dock were then MLAs Rao Narender Singh (who was a minister), Vinod Bhayana, Naresh Selwal, Jarnail Singh and Ramniwas Ghorela; Congress youth leader Sanjay Chhokar; besides Nalwa MLA Sampat Singh’s son Gaurav and Hathin MLA Jaleb Khan’s son Sajid Khan.
The accused Congress leaders had since maintained that the allegations were baseless and the complaint was not maintainable by the lokayukta under Section 9 of the Haryana Lokayukta Act.
Hearing the case, the lokayukta in October recommended a police investigation and appointed additional director general of police V Kamraj as inquiry officer asking him to submit a report in three months.
Fauji pleads innocence
Fauji, when contacted, said he had already moved the Punjab and Haryana high court for cancellation of the lokayukta’s recommendations and his case would come up for hearing on Thursday (December 4). “From the beginning, I have maintained that there is no truth in the allegations.
There is neither any evidence nor any reason for me to be talking like this as has been shown in the CD that is apparently doctored. I neither had power nor interest to have talked like that,” he said. When contacted, lokayukta justice Pal said, “No one is above law which will take its own course.”