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Ex-IAS hearing NH-74 land acquisition cases resigns after babus seek Uttarakhand CM’s intervention

Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat had ordered an SIT probe into the alleged NH-74 scam days after he took over after the BJP’s landslide win in the 2017 assembly polls.

dehradun Updated: Aug 22, 2018 07:15 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
NH-74 land acquisition,Trivendra Singh Rawat,RC Pathank
Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat went on record to say that the probe was ordered after cases relating to distribution of compensation among individuals other than farmers whose land was acquired for NH-74 came to light.(PTI/File Picture)

An official appointed to conduct hearing of cases relating to land acquisition for NH-74 resigned days after bureaucrats sought chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat’s intervention accusing the government of hounding IAS officers in the name of inquiries against them, including a probe into the alleged NH-74 scam.

RC Pathank, a retired IAS officer and additional arbitrator appointed to hear cases relating to distribution of monetary compensation and land acquisition for widening of NH-74 in Udham Singh Nagar, said he resigned on Monday.

“I resigned because the Special Investigation Team (SIT) was acting arbitrarily and was not following due procedures while probing the NH-74 scam,” he said on Tuesday.

“Ours is not a police state where investigations are conducted arbitrarily by police authorities but it is governed by the rule of law and all due legal procedures have to be followed.”

The SIT refuted the allegations.

Additional chief secretary Om Prakash said Pathak had tendered his resignation but refused to divulge its contents. “A decision on the resignation letter has not been taken, as the chief minister is out of station. He will take a call after he returns.”

Chief minister Rawat ordered an SIT probe into the NH-74 scam days after he took over after the BJP’s landslide win in the 2017 assembly polls.

He is on record stating that the probe was ordered after cases relating to distribution of compensation among individuals other than farmers whose land was acquired for NH-74, came to light.

“It is a massive scam where losses to the exchequer could go up to the tune of Rs 500 crore,” Rawat had stated while addressing media persons days after taking over.

Legal action has been initiated against several officials of the Provincial Civil Service (PCS) rank and below it for their alleged involvement in the NH-74 scam. Many of these officials are already cooling their heels in jail.

The case though acquired a high profile dimension recently when the SIT probing it named two IAS officers and former DMs of Udham Singh Nagar — Pankaj Pandey and Chandresh Yadav — in its recently submitted report to the state government.

They had also discharged duties as arbitrators to hear cases relating to allocation of monetary compensation and land acquired for widening of NH-74.

While Pandey is currently secretary in-charge, Yadav is a secretary-level officer. They went on a long leave after their names figured in the SIT probe relating to the NH-74 land acquisition scam.

The development though has left the bureaucrats peeved. Some 43 of them recently sought the CM’s intervention accusing the government of hounding IAS officers in the name of conducting inquiries against them including a probe into the NH-74 land acquisition scam.

The case hit the headlines again when Pathak resigned as additional arbitrator.

He said he resigned because the SIT was conducting an inquiry against the two IAS officers -- Pandey and Yadav without duly observing rules and legal procedures.

“One fine morning I received a letter by the senior superintendent police addressed to the district magistrate seeking court records of the two former arbitrators,” he said referring to Pandey and Yadav.

Pathak alleged that the police officer not only failed to observe the basic courtesy of addressing the DM as ‘Sir’ but his demand for files relating to court records of the former arbitrators too was made without observing due legal procedures.“The SIT, for instance, sought their (former arbitrators) court records without filing first information reports against them,which was illegal and against its (SIT) mandate,” he said.

“At least, copies of FIRs were not attached to the letter that was forwarded to me.”

Pathak said an IAS officer “can’t be implicated” like this. “Besides, there are protocols to be observed because an IAS officer is above an IPS officer in rank,” Pathak said.

Sadanand Date, supervisory officer, SIT, refused to comment on the issue. He, however, clarified that the SIT inquiry into the NH scam is being conducted with the government’s permission.

First Published: Aug 22, 2018 05:26 IST