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Amethi land transfer probe picks up pace after Irani's poke

lucknow Updated: Aug 26, 2015 12:00 IST
Brajendra K Parashar
Brajendra K Parashar
Hindustan Times
Amethi land scam

Union HRD minister Smriti Irani talks to reporters during her visit to Amethi. (ANI Photo)

The Amethi district administration has stepped up a probe into a complaint about the Samrat Bicycles Ltd getting UPSIDC land transferred to its name illegally some 20 years before the Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) bought the same land through a composite auction in Delhi on February 24 this year.

The pace of the probe picked up after union human resource development (HRD) minister Smriti Irani on Sunday accused the Congress of grabbing the land which the UP government had allotted to Samrat Bicycles Ltd on 90-year lease for setting up a cycle factory.

“I have asked the SDM (Gauriganj) to speed up the probe to find out as to how the land title was transferred to Samrat Bicycles Ltd and take action accordingly,” Amethi district magistrate Jagatraj told the state government.

He said, “The inquiry was, anyway, on after the UPSIDC (Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation) approached us on November 14 complaining about the matter and requesting us to make corrections in the land records, restoring the title to it.”

He said as per the initial findings, the company got the land title transferred to its name in 1996 when Amethi used to be part of Rae Bareli. “The probe is not an administrative one but part of a judicial process,” the DM clarified.

The UPSIDC officials were shocked when they came to know that in the land records it was the Samrat Cycle Ltd that had its name as the owner and not the UPSIDC that had only leased out the 65- acre land to the company in 1986 for setting up the cycle factory.

“The company could have only the lease-hold rights over the land but it could never have the land title,” Pathak said, adding, “We have moved the SDM court, urging it make corrections into the land records as per rules.”

The company, according to sources, became sick a few years after it started operations and was unable to pay off its liabilities, including the bank loan. It approached the Delhi high court seeking the liquidation of its assets. On the court’s order, the factory, along with the land, was auctioned on February 24. The RGCT was the highest bidder and purchased the land.

The DM said there was nothing wrong in the trust having purchased the land through a due process. “But the trust will have the same rights over the land as were available to the Samrat Bicycles Ltd and it could retain the land for the remaining lease period left out of 90 years,” he pointed out.

No connection between land auction and ownership issue

Will the discovery of the fact that Samrat Bicycles Ltd had illegally got the land title transferred to it have any bearing on the auction that took place in Delhi in February? Would the auction have been possible if the fact had come to the court’s knowledge before the auction?

“The land title issue has or had no connection with the appointment of the liquidator and the auction,” the DM said.

Not question of legality but intention

Amethi BJP district president Durgesh Tripathi said it was not a question of legality and illegality at this juncture and the truth would come out as the media did scrutiny. “Did Rahul Gandhi, as the local MP, ever try to see to it that the cycle factory that became sick could stay? Or did he allow it to get sicker and wait to grab its land later?”

However, a senior UPSIDC official, who did not wish to be identified, said one should not question the intention of the RGCT that was doing a lot of good work in the country. “They must have some great plans to use the land in Amethi as well,” he added.