Revenue officials involved in embezzlement of public exchequer, illegal sale: Chief Secretary
In Pahalgam Golf Course Land Acquisition Scam, Jammu and Kashmir High Court Monday directed the Amicus Curie to file response to a compliance report submitted by Chief Secretary, revealing involvement of revenue officials in the embezzlement of public exchequer for the expansion of the golf Course.
The division bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey and Justice Sanjeev Kumar directed the Amicus to respond to the report of Chief Secretary.
Chief Secretary in his report submitted that the First Information Report (FIR) has already been registered against the erring officials of the Revenue Department including Assistant Collector for manipulating and changing the nature of the land in question.
As per the report the case stands challaned by the Vigilance Organization of Kashmir under Sections 120-B, 420, 467, and 468 RPC and presently the case is pending for disposal before the court of Additional Sessions Judge (Special Anti corruption) Anantnag and is at the state of recording of evidence.
He informed the court that excess amount paid to the beneficiaries for “Najaiz Shamilat” land shall be made by the erring Assistant Collector as arrears of the land revenue under the provision of ‘Land Revenue Act’.
“The Revenue Department has been asked to initiate necessary steps for recovery of the excess amount paid if any,” the report reads.
He also submitted that any officer involved in the matter can be proceeded against both in departmental proceedings as well as criminal proceedings.
“Accordingly taking cognizance of the matter, departmental action was initiated against the officers involved in the insertion case of land in question by changing and manipulating the original nature of the land by the then officials of the Revenue Department who were placed under suspension and entry was made in their service books as well,” he stated in report.
Earlier, the court while taking suo-moto cognizance had directed the Chief Secretary to file a compliance report with regard to the details as to how the officials had allegedly distributed compensation to people who had never provided any land for the project.
Observing the gravity of the case, in which corrective action is pending despite court orders, the court had earlier asked that the case should be referred to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for probe to bring to justice the erring government functionaries and beneficiaries in the matter involving huge exchequer.
In its 2014 judgment, in petitions surrounding land acquisition for expansion of golf course at Pahalgam, the court had noted that land belonging to the state had been expropriated by changing the nature in disregard of the law and rules, certain lands already acquired by the state continued to be in possession of private individuals and some persons had been allotted alternate lands in lieu of their portions of land, but entries in regard thereto had not been made in the revenue records.
The court took note of the irregularities in the making of awards of compensation for the acquired land where higher rates were awarded to influential land owners, bureaucrats, political activists and businessmen.
The court had said it wanted to know as to who was or were the competent authority/authorities to take the follow up action and implement the common judgment of the court of 2014 in seven related writ petitions.
It said that what action should be taken against the erring Government functionaries/officers, including the concerned Revenue officers who remained posted in Anantnag and had an occasion to deal with the matter.
The court also wanted to know the course of action taken by the government to retrieve the Government money disbursed to persons not entitled to it whether under the orders of the civil court or otherwise.
The scam is related to the misappropriation of funds and illegal sale of land by revenue officials in famous tourist resort Pahalgam which came to light in 2014. In this regard, a petition was filed by Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Mir, a resident of Laripora in Pahalgam in the high court through his council Parvez Imroz.