The Rajasthan anti-corruption bureau (ACB) probing a land scam allegedly involving former bureaucrats is likely to question an ex-minister in a scandal which could potentially dent the image of the erstwhile Congress government in the state.
The ACB on Tuesday arrested Nishkam Diwakar, a senior Rajasthan administrative service officer and is on the lookout for GS Sandhu, the former principal secretary in the urban housing development department. Sandhu retired a week ago.
A local court on Wednesday remanded Diwakar, who was the chief executive officer of Bansawara zila parishad when arrested, to 14 days in judicial custody.
Sandhu and other officials allegedly allotted a single land deed to a firm which was illegally made member of a housing society in 2011 when the Congress government headed by Ashok Gehlot was in power.
Sandhu, a 1980-batch IAS officer, allegedly ignored several notices by the ACB to appear for questioning.
ACB sources said that the decision to transfer the society deed to the firm was allegedly taken at the level of former UDH minister Shanti Dhariwal. Dhariwal, however, said he was ready to face the ACB’s questioning and termed it to be a political case.
The land scam is the second major scandal in recent times after the ACB arrested senior IAS officer Ashok Singhvi and seven other people and also recovered Rs 2.5 crore in cash in what is being seen as a massive racket in the mining sector.
The ACB had lodged an FIR on December 3, 2014 in the land scam in which the Gehlot government in 2011 reversed a decision of the first Raje government in 2005 against giving a single deed to the firm, Ganpati Constructions, for three khasras of agriculture land in Jaipur’s Jagatpura area.
The firm’s director Shailendra Garg is already in jail in the case.
Another RAS officer Omkar Mal Saini, who was the deputy commissioner in Jaipur Development Authority when the alleged irregularities took place, is also absconding. He was earlier interrogated by the ACB.
Sandhu, known to be close to Gehlot, retired as chairman of the National Authority for Chemical Weapons Convention and was always at the helm in the UDH department when the Congress was in power. Sandhu moved the Rajasthan high court seeking quashing of the FIR. The HC had listed the case for Wednesday but it has now been listed for October 27.
Meanwhile, the counsel of an RTI activist who had sought an ACB probe into the land scam, on Wednesday dragged Gehlot into the case calling him a “co-conspirator”.