The state Criminal Investigation Department (CID) suffered a setback on Tuesday when the Bombay high court transferred the Pune land scam case it was probing to the Central Bureau of Investigation saying it did not have confidence in the CID.
The division bench of justice BH Marlapalle and justice UD Salvi said it decided to hand over the investigation to an investigating agency “which is not under the control of the state government”.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation filed by Bharatiya Janata Party spokesperson Madhav Bhandari, through his advocate, Ganesh Sovani.
The PIL alleges that between 1976 and 2005, 11,894 returns (statements of property extracts and details of persons having interest in the land) were filed under the Urban Land Ceiling Regulation Act (ULCRA) in the Pune urban agglomeration. Bogus orders were allegedly passed under the Act to avoid surrendering excess land to the state.
Sovani had asked for the case to be transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) saying the state government has been trying to shield some ministers and bureaucrats, including Yogesh Mhase, officer on special duty to home minister RR Patil.
The economic offence wing of the CID had lodged 29 first information reports between December 2010 and January 2011, according to the high court’s directions following a probe report by former bureaucrat, Sudhakar Joshi.
However, despite the fact that there was evidence of fake or fabricated orders, the CID did not show any of the officers as accused.
The court also observed that government officers abused their powers. “The report [by Joshi] indicates that [a] number of revenue officers were appointed as competent authority since 1998, abused their power by taking shelter under the government resolution.”
The CBI has six weeks to lodge individual offences against landowners, their power of attorney holders and developers, named in Joshi’s report, who allegedly fabricated orders under the ULCRA to usurp the land.
The court has also asked the CBI to examine whether further investigation is required in four cases in which chargesheets have been filed.
The court has directed the CBI’s special investigation team to submit a report on the probe to the registrar general within eight weeks.
The court will hear the matter after ten weeks.