Roshni land scam:File action taken report before December 11: J&K HC to CBI
A division bench of the Jammu and Kashmir high court on Tuesday rapped the UT administration for taking lopsided action in the much-publicised Roshni land scam.
The bench, comprising chief justice Gita Mittal and justice Rajesh Bindal, also sought to know the UT’s urgency in seeking hearing of the review petition that was scheduled to be taken up on December 16.
“Today the division bench heard a fresh miscellaneous application filed by the UT administration seeking to prepone the date of hearing of the review petition, which had been fixed for December 16, along with the main PIL,” said advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmad, counsel of the petitioner professor SK Bhalla.
“When this preponement application came up for hearing, the division headed by chief justice Gita Mittal put a specific query to additional advocate general (AAG) Aseem Sawhney about its urgency, upon which Sawhney submitted that the CBI had started a probe and had restricted it to those FIRs that were earlier being probed by the anti-corruption bureau (ACB), which was creating problems for the officers of the UT administration and if a CBI probe in those cases was allowed to continue it will unsettle things that had already been settled,” said Shakeel.
He said the AAG further submitted that the UT administration should be allowed to formulate a policy for segregating the poor people and farmers from the purview of the HC judgment of October 9 and other connected matters.
At this, advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed submitted that since the passing of the judgment, a false narrative contrary to facts and records, was being run by people with vested
interests to defeat the very intent and purpose of the court directions.
Ahmed submitted, “A particular community was targeted and accused of grabbing ponds, rivers, state land and forest land when there were no such observations or directions in the judgment”,.
He further submitted that the judgment was misinterpreted to foster a false narrative to mislead the common masses and to create a wedge between the peace loving people of J&K.
Ahmed argued that the divisional administration of Jammu was selectively leaking names of Roshni beneficiaries in the media to target a particular community and to give a wrong impression under the garb of the directions of the division bench.
The bench while expressing concern and displeasure in the open court orally observed, “We do not want discrimination of any kind on the basis of culture, region, religion or status.”
The bench impressed upon the CBI to investigate the matter fairly and further clarified that its October 9 judgment was never meant to target people unnecessarily and that it was not against any culture, region, religion and status.
Ahmed said the bench further remarked, “We do not want lopsided investigation and investigation has to be fair.” It directed the CBI counsel advocate Monika Kohli to file first action taken report (ATR) in a sealed cover before the next date of hearing.
Kohli resisted submissions of AAG Aseem Sawhney and submitted that the CBI was investigating the scam squarely as per the directions of the bench and she further divulged that CBI was almost ready with its ATR and the same shall be filed shortly.
After hearing the arguments, the bench allowed preponement of the application moved by UT administration and listed the main PIL along with review petition for December 11.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration has sought a review of October 9 HC judgment that had declared the 2001 J&K State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act (Roshni Act) null and void.