Uddar Gagan case: No CBI probe, retired judge to look into Rohtak land deal
In a significant climb down, the BJP government in Haryana on Wednesday appointed a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, justice RS Madan, to inquire the actions leading to the release of around 400-acre land in Rohtak and grant of colonisation licence on 280 acres to a private builder during the rule of previous Congress regime.
The move to have an inquiry by a retired judge in the matter, instead of a CBI probe, is being seen a major volte-face on the part of BJP government.
This becomes significant since the matter has already been inquired by a retired IAS officer, Rajan Gupta, who only pointed to a systemic failure in the entire episode and did not fix anyone’s responsibility. Post retirement, Gupta is now the chairperson of Haryana Real Estate Regulatory Authority (HRERA), Panchkula.
Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had on March 13 emphatically told the state assembly about his government’s decision to refer two cases of land acquisition irregularities — Rohtak’s Uddar Gagan case adjudicated by the Supreme Court in May 2016 and Sonepat land release case — to the CBI for investigation.
Three weeks later, the state government has backed down by ordering an inquiry by a retired judge, who has been asked to complete the inquiry within two months.
The Uddar Gagan case
Around 850 acres of land was proposed to be acquired in 2002 for residential and commercial sectors in Rohtak by Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda).
However, the award was passed for around 422 acres in April 2005. A realtor, Uddar Gagan Properties Limited, in March 2005 entered into collaboration agreements with some farmers, whose land was under acquisition for development of a colony.
The developer had applied for a licence to develop a colony on land covering around 280 acres. The licences were granted by the town and country planning director in June 2006 and the corresponding land was released from acquisition.
The licences were addressed to the owners but remitted to the builder.
This was followed by execution of sale deeds in favour of the builder through power-of-attorney holder of the land owners.
Upholding the land acquisition process, an SC bench of Justice Anil R Dave and Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel in its May 13, 2006 judgment had ordered that land will vest in Huda free from all encumbrances. The SC said that all land-release orders in favour of the builder in respect of land covered were quashed.
“Consequently, all licences granted in respect of the land covered by acquisition will stand transferred to Huda,” the court had stated.
The apex court had also asked the state government to inquire into the legality and bona fides of the action of the persons responsible for illegally entertaining the applications of the builder and releasing the land to him, when it had no title to the land on the date of the notification under Section 4 and proceeded against them in accordance with law.