The CBI has taken over three separate cases in connection with the Rs 25,000cr Roshni land scam in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The development comes after the Jammu and Kashmir High Court termed the Roshni Act or the J&K State Land (Vesting of Ownership to Occupants) Act, 2001, unconstitutional and unsustainable and declared it “null and void”.
The court also directed the CBI to take over the investigation into cases earlier instituted by the then Vigilance Organisation in Jammu, now known as Anti-Corruption Bureau.
Several Jammu Development Authority officials are also under the scanner.
The first case relates to Jammu revenue department officials allegedly conferring “undue benefits upon illegal occupants of state land” thereby inflicting “huge monetary loss to the state exchequer”.
The second case, also registered for “undue benefits upon illegal occupants” against revenue officials of Samba district, alleged “land was allotted at incorrectly-fixed prices” and that “in many cases the amount was not remitted to the government treasury”.
The third case names Jammu-based businessman Bansi Lal Gupta for allegedly conspiring with government officials to get ownership rights to a land parcel. The accused regularised the possession illegally without any revenue record and issued a no-objection certificate in the beneficiary’s favour for the construction of a commercial building in the disputed land.
The high court, observing it was a “loot to own” policy, said: “That these looters could motivate a legislation to facilitate their nefarious design, by itself speaks about their insidious and deep penetration into the corridors of power and authority; about the level and scale of their influence at all levels and suggests involvement of all those who mattered including in propounding and implementation of the policy.”
In 2018, then Governor Satya Pal Malik had repealed the act and cancelled all pending applications. In December 2019, he said: “The implementation of the scheme has been such that it has proved to be a Rs 25,000 crore scam… When I came here, the first thing I did was to end the Roshni scheme and we handed the Roshni cases to the ACB for investigation.”