In a setback to senior Haryana-cadre IAS officer Subhash Chandra Goyal, the Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday dismissed his anticipatory bail petition in a case in which an FIR was registered against him in 2011 in Mewat for illegal exchange of prime Sehsola panchayat land with land owned by his niece.
Goyal, presently secretary of the Haryana State Human Rights Commission, now faces arrest.
The additional district and sessions judge, Nuh (Mewat district), had on August 8 refused to grant anticipatory bail, stating that the magnitude of the fraud was yet to be unearthed and it was not advisable to grant bail to Goyal so that he did not interfere in the investigation.
It was in January 2008, when then Haryana director, consolidation, Goyal, had allowed exchange of around 120 kanals of prime panchayat land (shamlat deh) at Sehsola village in Mewat district worth crores of rupees with the land owned by his niece, Medha, against the rules and beyond his jurisdiction.
FIR registered on HC order
On the directions of the high court, an FIR was registered against Goyal at Tauru police station (Mewat) under sections 409 (criminal breach of trust by public servant), 420 (cheating), 471 (stating forged document as genuine) and 120B (conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code on June 9, 2011.
Justice Ajai Lamba, in his judgment dated April 21, 2011, had observed, “Respondent No 2 (SC Goyal), therefore, enabled the fraud to be played on the gram panchayat, resulting in the gram panchayat losing its land.” The judge had also said, “The facts and circumstances emanating from the record clearly indicate, even commission of criminal offences, including that of fraud. The deputy commissioner, Mewat, is directed to enable initiation of criminal proceedings.”
State govt accepted illegality
The state government had also accepted Goyal’s illegal action and then Haryana director general, consolidation of holdings, Ashok Khemka, in September last year, had informed the high court that as per the Punjab Village Common Lands (Regulation) Act, 1961, only an “inhabitant of a village” can be allowed benefit under the Act, whereas Medha is a resident of “W-6/23, DLF, Phase 3, Gurgaon”, not a resident of Sehsola village.
Khemka had submitted that as per rules, the transfer of panchayat land was permissible with the resolution of the gram panchayat, the determination of its value by the deputy commissioner and the approval of the state government, but the prescribed criteria for the exchange of panchayat land was not met out in the instant case.