Srinagar, Mar 18: In a significant order, a Division Bench of J&K High Court comprising Chief Justice Gita Mittal and First Puisne Judge Justice Rajesh Bindal in the open court observed that date-wise summary of proceedings in case in infamous ‘Gulmarg land scam has been received from the Court of 1st Additional Sessions Judge (Special Judge Anti-Corruption), Baramulla pursuant to order dated March, 12, 2020 whereby the Division Bench had directed the Trial Judge at Baramulla to submit date-wise summary of proceedings w.e.f. the date of production of charge sheet i.e. September, 25, 2012 and supplementary charge sheet on September, 23, 2013.
After hearing Advocate Sheikh Shakeel Ahmed with Advocates Supriya Chouhan and Muhammad Zulkarnain Chowdhary appearing in the much publicized PIL No.19/2011 titled Prof. S.K. Bhalla V/s State of J&K & Ors highlighting organized land grabbing by a section of Bureaucrats, Politicians, Police Officers and Land Mafia, the Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal in the open court directed and observed that it will examine the summary of court proceedings sent by Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Baramulla on the next date of hearing i.e. April, 15, 2020.
When this much publicized PIL filed by Social Activist Prof. S.K. Bhalla against land mafia came up for hearing, Advocate S.S. Ahmed invited the attention of the Division Bench towards the latest status report of Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) filed on March, 17, 2020 wherein in a tabular form, the ACB indicated the status of 17 FIRs relating to Roshni Land Scam. The Division Bench in the open court perused the said status report and after going through the same expressed its displeasure over inordinate delay towards the completion of investigation in 09 FIRs indicated in Annexure-D of the status report i.e. FIR No.6/2014 VOJ, FIR No.15/2014 VOJ, FIR No.16/2014 VOJ, FIR No.3/2015 VOJ, FIR No.4/2015, FIR No.5/2015, FIR No.23/2015 VOJ, FIR No.17/2014 VOJ and FIR No.26/2015 VOK.
AAG Raman Sharma appearing for Anti-Corruption Bureau submitted that ACB will come out with a updated/latest status report indicating the stage of investigation in each and every FIR. He further submitted that ACB will pursue those cases particularly in FIR No.16/2014 VOJ wherein the order granting sanction for prosecution has been stayed by the Hon’ble High Court on February, 18, 2016.
At this stage Advocate S.S. Ahmed submitted that in two FIRs i.e. FIR No.18/2014 VOK and FIR No.19/2014 VOK, the cases after investigation being concluded as proved were submitted to the Govt. of J&K for accord of prosecution sanction on November, 15, 2018 and October, 17, 2016 but till date the prosecution sanction is awaited.
Advocate S.S. Ahmed according to KNT, vehemently argued that the Apex Court in case titled Dr. Subramaniam Swamy V/s Dr. Manmohan Singh reported as (2012) 3 SCC 64 has held that the Sanctioning Authority is under an obligation to accord the prosecution sanction within a period of 03 months and in case no response is received from the Sanctioning Authority during this period then it is a deemed sanction.
The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal expressed deep concern in the open court over the non-filing of reply by Jammu Development Authority (JDA), Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K Revenue Department, Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K H&UDD, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Deputy Commissioner Jammu in a fresh application (CM No.1972/2020) wherein the petitioner has sought quashment of order No.DCJ/HQA/ ROSHNI/08/ 676-67 dated June, 9, 2008 whereby Hirdesh Kumar Singh (IAS) the then Deputy Commissioner Jammu conferred ownership rights under Roshni Scheme in favour of a prominent businessman of Gole Market, Gandhi Nagar, Jammu with regard to land measuring 05 Kanals 02 Marlas comprised in Khasra No.781 situated at Village Deeli (Marble Market), Jammu. The petitioner in the said application has also sought quashment of NOC No.VC/PS/ 2013/631-32 dated January, 23, 2013 issued by the then VC JDA Sarita Chouhan (IAS) for building permission in favour of the beneficiary. The petitioner has further sought directions to the JDA to retrieve its prime land measuring 154 Kanals 05 Marlas comprised in Khasra No.781 situated at Village Deeli, Jammu which came to be transferred in favour of JDA by the Government of J&K in the year 2004.
At this stage Senior Advocate B.S. Slathia with Advocate Pulkit Chrungoo appeared on behalf of Hirdesh Kumar Singh (IAS) and Advocate Pulkit Chrungoo accepted notice in the open court on behalf of Hirdesh Kumar Singh (IAS). The Division Bench directed Advocate S.S. Ahmed to supply a copy of the said application to Advocate Pulkit Chrungoo during the course of the day so that reply be filed before the adjourned date of hearing.
Senior Advocate R.K. Gupta, Advocates Rahul Pant, Rohit Kapoor and Sheikh Faraz Iqbal drew the attention of the Division Bench towards the applications filed on behalf of Sheikh Mehboob Iqbal (IAS), Manzoor Ahmed Khan, Mushtaq Ahmed Burza, Nazir Ahmed Mir and Abdul Hamid Dar seeking their impleadment as party respondents in the instant PIL.
The Battery of Lawyers led by Senior Advocate R.K. Gupta vociferously argued that the continuous prejudicial reporting of this PIL is causing immense loss to the reputation of the applicants who have been arrayed as accused in Gulmarg Land Scam. The Senior Advocate R.K. Gupta further submitted that the one sided reporting may influence the Trial Judge where almost arguments on framing of charge have been finalized. Advocate Rohit Kapoor referred a judgment of the Supreme Court “Sahara Real Estate” in this regard. Advocate Sheikh Faraz Iqbal also submitted that the Gulmarg Land Scam is the subject matter of another PIL titled Sheikh Mohd. Shafi & Anr V/s Union of India & Ors (PIL No.9/2012) and also informed the Division Bench that earlier the Division Bench had refused to entertain the application filed by the petitioner. He further submitted that in case his impleadment application is allowed, he will bring all these facts before the Court.
The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice Gita Mittal placed on record the aforesaid applications seeking impleadment but at this stage did not implead the applicants as party respondents and further in the open court observed that no order has been passed against the applicants by this Court.
The Division Bench headed by Chief Justice also issued directions to the JDA to report compliance of order dated March, 4, 2020 and March, 12, 2020 whereby the Division bench had directed JDA to file utilization plan of the JDA land retrieved from land mafia.
The Division Bench also directed the Registry to list another writ petition (OWP No.828/2020) titled Rajinder Singh Jamwal V/s Union Territory of J&K & Ors alongwith writ petition (OWP No.1342/2012) titled J&K Cooperative Housing Corporation Ltd. V/s State of J&K & Ors and writ petition (OWP No.1326/2014) titled Horizon Construction V/s State of J&K & Ors alongwith PIL No.19/2011. Advocate Rajinder Singh Jamwal appearing in person submitted in the open court that on JDA land the Apartments have been constructed by a Builder and construction was raised after procuring orders from the Court by suppression of facts.
Looking into the importance of the matter, the Division Bench directed the Registry to re-notify the instant PIL on April, 15, 2020. (KNT