Inquiry by retired judge in Rohtak land release case to get further delayed

A two-month deadline was set by the state government for the completion of the inquiry ordered in June.
(Representative image)
(Representative image)
Updated on Oct 26, 2018 01:07 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By

The inquiry being conducted by a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana high court, Justice RS Madan, into the land release of around 400 acres in Rohtak and grant of colonisation licence on 280 acres to real estate developer Uddar Gagan during the previous Congress regime is set to get delayed.

The Supreme Court is monitoring the matter.

A two-month deadline was set by the state government for the completion of the inquiry ordered in June. However, Justice (retd) Madan sought an extension in time to complete the probe. Consequently, the state government in July made a plea before the apex court for grant of three months to complete the proceedings.

But with the three-month extension also getting over in November, the retired judge has sought yet another extension in time.

He is also learnt to have conveyed his inability in getting the probe completed in a short span as the inquiry required summoning of many individuals and scrutiny of a large number of documents.

The government has no option but to grant the extension, said an official.

The matter is listed before the bench of Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre and Justice Indu Malhotra of the Supreme Court for October 26.

Why probe is important

The Supreme Court wanted the state government to probe the actions of those officials who illegally entertained the applications of Uddar Gagan and released the land to it when it had no title to the land on the date of the notification under Section 4 and proceed against them in accordance with the law.

The apex court had in May 2016 upheld the land acquisition process and ordered that land will vest in Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) free from all encumbrances.

The SC ordered 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 SC said.

“Justice RS Madan was appointed to carry out an inquiry and make complete recommendations in two months to enable the government to carry out the directions of the apex court. An inquiry earlier conducted by IAS officer Rajan Gupta was not accepted by the state government,’’ said an official.

The inquiry conducted by Gupta had blamed the state government for assuming discretionary powers and its legal institutions like the office of the legal remembrancer (LR) supporting it by incorrectly interpreting the law. However, the inquiry officer did not fix the responsibility of any individual and concluded it to be a failure of the system. Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had on March 13 announced in the state assembly that the state government has decided to refer the Uddar Gagan matter to the CBI for investigation.

However, the state government made a volte face by ordering an inquiry by a retired judge instead.

Govt intentions questioned by Abhay Chautala

Leader of Opposition Abhay Chautala had questioned the motive behind the flip-flop terming it as contempt of the House. “The BJP government wanted to have a tailor-made inquiry which would suit their interests. Appointing a retired judge instead of referring the matter to CBI carried no value,’’ he had alleged.

The case

Around 850 acres 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 about 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 about 280 acres. The licences were granted by the town and country planning director in June 2006 and corresponding land was released from acquisition. The licenses were addressed to the owners but remitted to the builder.

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