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900 people to be tried in Rajasthan land scam

The Rajasthan state government has cancelled sale deeds of 3,146 bighas of land and registered cases against 900 persons involved in the scam, reports K.S. Tomar .
Hindustan Times | By K.S. Tomar, Jaipur
UPDATED ON MAY 22, 2008 01:28 AM IST

In a major swoop on revenue law violators involved in ‘benami’ transactions of about onle lakh bighas of land worth Rs 4,000 crore in Rajasthan’s four border districts of Barmer, Bikaner, Jaisalmer and Jalore, the state government has cancelled sale deeds of 3,146 bighas of land and registered cases against 900 persons involved in the scam.

Courts in these districts have directed the police to conduct investigations into the benami transactions while revenue officials have been ordered to enquire into the legality of the sale deeds.

The culprits are being tried under the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, which provides for imprisonment of upto three years.

A private company is facing the heat for indulging in the benami purchase of about 15,000 bighas of land on a border district.

Senior officials said the state government has written to the central government on May 8 and requested it to hold an inquiry into the fraud and irregularities committed by this company in the purchase and subsequent sale of land to investors.

Principal Secretary (Revenue) Ashok Shekhar, who has been assigned a special task by the state government, told Hindustan Times from a border district on Wednesday that illegal and benami transactions of about one lakh bigahs of land took place in 2007 and preliminary investigations have revealed the reckless purchase of land in border districts by “outsiders”.

He said, “Violation of the land revenue act took place in the notified areas in the border districts and the accused have been asked to give proof of taking possession before revenue officials after the registration of the sale deeds.”

“The poor villagers sold their land at low prices to middlemen who then sold the land to their customers at exorbitant prices to mint money,” Shekhar said.

Shekhar held a meeting with the districts collectors of four districts and instructed them to go after the offenders.

Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence) Manoj Bhat said “Efforts are being made to get all the details of the persons who indulged in this land scam. It will also unearth the credentials of every person who did not adhere to the provisions of the law.”

Due to innumerable complaints of sale of land on the border, the state government had constituted a three-member Special Investigating Team (SIT) which is scrutinising the land deals.

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