Rajasthan govt seeks withdrawal of ‘land scam’ case against GS Sandhu, others
- The government claims that there's no proof either of any loss of revenue and of benefits accruing to department officials or of their involvement in any conspiracy.
The Rajasthan government has moved an application in a court to withdraw a case of alleged land scam against a former IAS officer and two other bureaucrats, in which a charge sheet had been filed by the state’s anti-corruption bureau, four years ago in 2016.
The charge sheet was filed against GS Sandhu, a retired IAS officer, who currently is an advisor to the Rajasthan Cricket Association’s president Vaibhav Gehlot, son of CM Ashok Gehlot; Nishkam Diwakar, retired Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) officer; and Onkar Mal Saini, serving RAS officer in 2016, when the BJP was in power in the state.
The ACB had lodged an FIR on December 3, 2014, in the alleged land scam involving the grant of three khasras of agriculture land in Jaipur’s Jagatpura area to a private firm. BJP’s Vasundhara Raje government in 2005 had ruled against the grant of land through a single deed, however, it was later reversed by the Congress government in 2011.
The ACB charge sheet filed in July 2016 said Sandhu, who was the principal secretary UDH in 2010-11 along with Diwakar, the then deputy secretary in UDH and Saini, the then deputy commissioner, Jaipur Development Authority were allegedly part of a criminal conspiracy to allot the land.
A case was registered under IPC section 409, 420 and 120B and other relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The three were arrested but were subsequently released on bail.
In July 2019, Sandhu and Diwakar submitted a representation to the government urging a review and withdrawal of the case. Thereafter, the government setup a three-member committee, which recommended withdrawing the case. On January 19, 2021, an application was moved in the court to withdraw.
In the withdrawal application, the state government claims that the ACB has not found any loss of revenue to the government and the JDA; the disputed land was not owned by the government and the original lease deed owner has not complained either to JDA or the ACB; the probe hasn’t found any proof of benefits accruing to department officials or of their involvement in any conspiracy; and the land’s status quo has not been changed.
The application further states that the ACB filed charge sheet against Sandhu, a public servant, without taking prosecution sanction under Section 197 of the IPC. “In the matter, the malintention of the three officials isn’t seen. Facing prosecution in such cases will demoralize the officials, which is not in public interest,” states the application.
A senior ACB official said the government can withdraw a case in public interest under CrPC section 321. A committee constituting the director prosecution, secretary home and law reviewed the matter and recommended withdrawal as they found no malafide intention and evidence of wrongful gain.
Commenting on the development, Sandhu said, “It was purely an administrative decision taken at the government’s level in good faith, which was converted into a case of criminal conspiracy with malafide intentions.”
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