The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has said that it will decide on Wednesday whether to transfer “Roshni Scam” case to Central Bureau of Investigation as the court also directed the Anti-corruption bodies in Jammu and Kashmir to file a status report.
In the last hearing, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court had expressed shock over the manner encroachers of state land had become landowners due to the now-defunct Roshni Scheme.
Advocate Ankur Sharma who had filed the Public Interest Litigation against the Roshni Act said that the reports sought by the court in its earlier order dated February 2, 2020, from Revenue Secretary, Education Secretary, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, PCCF and DC Jammu were not filed.
Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir Administration in November 2018 under the chairmanship of the then Governor Satya Pal Malik had approved the repeal of the J&K State Lands (Vesting of the ownership to the occupant) Act 2001 commonly known as Roshni Scheme.
As per the official statement issued by the Government in 2018, the Jammu and Kashmir State Lands (Vesting of the ownership to the occupants) Act was enacted in 2001 with the twin objective of generating resources for financing power projects and conferment of proprietary rights to the occupants of the State Lands.
The scheme had the aim of giving proprietary rights of around 20.55 lakh kanals (1 acre= 8 kanals) to the occupants of which only 15.85% land was approved for vesting of ownership rights, the spokesman had said. However, a 2014 report by the Controller and Auditor General said that the Roshni Scheme had miserably failed to achieve its desired target. The CAG report had also hinted towards a major scam which needed to be investigated.
As per the CAG report of 2014, under the Roshni scheme, the then Government had set a target of around 25,000 crores for funding the power projects by selling the 20,64,972 kanals of state land. However, the CAG report pointed that by 2013, the Government had collected a meagre sum of 76 crores by transferring 3,48,160 kanals of land, thus falling way behind the set target. The CAG report also pointed out that the scheme had also failed to serve its second purpose that was to stop new encroachments. However, the encroachment of state land continued unabated despite the act being in place.
Advocate Ankur Sharma who filed the PIL seeking the recovery of the encroached land under the scheme and also order an investigation of Politicians and Bureaucrats in the encroachment of state lands said that a thorough enquiry would reveal the extent of damage the act has done to the state exchequer. “Today, the honourable court directed all the authorities to file the report by Wednesday next week. The court also said since these reports have not been filed, therefore we will decide the matter of transfer of Roshni Scam to CBI on March 18, 2020,” Ankur Sharma told Republic World.
As per Sharma, the court also directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau Jammu and Anti Corruption Bureau Kashmir to file a fresh status report in the Roshni Scam.
“The law commission only a week back had recommended the retrieval of lands allotted under the Roshni scam. The Process to retrieve Jammu’s forests, state lands, river beds is in full swing”, Sharma said.