The Haryana Lokayukta on Wednesday recommended the registration of criminal cases under the Prevention of Corruption Act (PCA) against a former state minister, a former chief parliamentary secretary (CPS) and two former Congress MLAs in the two-year-old graft case pertaining to change of land use (CLU) permissions.
The Lokayukta also ordered a criminal case against another former Congress MLA, Ram Niwas Ghorela, for seeking money to get funds cleared for a non-governmental organisation (NGO) for opening schools under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan.
Among the accused in the CLU scam, Rao Narender Singh was the health minister in the previous Congress regime headed by chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda and Vinod Bhayana was a chief parliamentary secretary (CPS), while Naresh Selwal and Jarnail Singh were Congress MLAs. They were accused of seeking money in lieu of getting CLU permissions to some people.
Rao Narender and Bhayana were among the five Haryana Janhit Congress MLAs who had defected to the Congress in 2009.
Then CPS Ram Kishan Fauji was also accused of seeking money for CLU permissions. All five (including Fauji) were caught on camera in separate “sting operations” done by Dharmender Kuhar and other workers of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). The INLD leaders, including Abhay Chautala and state president Ashok Arora, subsequently produced some compact discs (CDs) in this regard and also filed complaints before Lokayukta justice Pritam Pal (retd) in September 2013.
The Punjab and Haryana high court had on February 27, 2015, quashed the Lokayukta order for registering a criminal case against Fauji, though a division bench of the court on December 15 stayed its single-judge bench’s order.
Justice Pal, who heard the complainant INLD leaders as well as the accused during the past about two years, had recommended cases against the accused, though the previous government had asked him to review his decision.
Justice Pal, however, held that there was no provision of review under the Lokayukta Act and sent the case to a special investigation team (SIT) headed by additional director general of police V Kamaraj for further investigations and verification of the authenticity of the CDs. Kamaraj recently submitted his report, stating that it made a fit case for registering a criminal case.
Having reserved his order on December 9, 2015, justice Pal pronounced it on Wednesday, recommending to the competent authority that criminal cases for commission of offence under the PCA be registered against the accused, and thereafter, a senior competent police officer, enjoying reputation of having an impeccable integrity, be deputed to investigate all cases on all counts of allegations of corruption as mentioned in the complaints. He also sought the action-taken report (ATR) within three months.
Kamaraj, who held a detailed inquiry and heard all the accused, also sent the CDs to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), Hyderabad. The CFSL confirmed that all gadgets used in the sting operations, such as camera, multi-speech software, computer and CDs and their reproduction were authentic, but it held that it did not have the facility to compare and authenticate the voice files.
Since none of the accused gave their voice samples for matching, Kamaraj, with the help of an expert from the Forensic Science Laboratory, Madhuban (Karnal), then took samples of the voice of Dharmender Kuhar, who had conducted the sting operations, and sent them to CFSL, Chandigarh, on February 11, 2015.
As per the reports of the two CFSLs, the authenticity of the CDs was proved as these had not been tampered with, the source from which it was recorded was also proved and the voice of the speaker who had conducted the sting operations was also authenticated.
Charges against accused
Rao Narender Singh, former health minister: Allegedly sought Rs 30-50 crore for CLU (change of land use) nod for 30-acre land
Vinod Bhayana, former chief parliamentary secy: Allegedly sought Rs 2.5 crore to get CLU grant for 4-acre land in Gurgaon
Naresh Selwal, former MLA: Accused of seeking Rs 10-12 crore for getting about 3,000-yard land released from the purview of Section 6 of Land Acquisition Act in Sector 45, Gurgaon
Jarnail Singh, former legislator: Allegedly sought money (amount not specified) for getting CLU nod for a group housing society on 2-acre land in Faridabad
Ram Niwas Ghorela, ex-MLA: Accused of seeking Rs 50 lakh from NGO for getting Rs 2.5-crore funds to open schools in brick-kiln areas under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan