Spl. Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu directs ACB to submit fortnightly Progress Reports
In a significant order, Special Judge (Anti-Corruption) Jammu, Y.P. Bourney has directed the Anti-Corruption Bureau, Jammu to submit fortnightly progress reports in the investigation in case FIR No.06/2014 P/S VOJ (now ACB) pertaining to illegal encroachment of 154 Kanals of prime JDA land comprised in Khasra No.781 situated at Village Deeli (Marble Market), Jammu and conferment of ownership rights with regard to 05 Kanals 02 Marlas of land in the said Khasra No.781 under Roshini Scheme illegally in favour of a Gandhi Nagar based prominent businessman of Jammu. FIR No.06/2014 was registered at Police Station, VOJ (now ACB) Jammu on the written complaint of RTI/Social Activist Prof. S.K. Bhalla wherein it was alleged that the beneficiary hatched a criminal conspiracy with the Revenue and JDA officers/officials for grabbing the prime JDA land situated in Khasra No.781 at Village Deeli (Marble Market), Jammu which land had already been transferred to JDA way back in the year 2004 vide SRO 263 dated August, 9, 2004, however, the benefits of ownership under Roshini Act were illegally conferred upon the beneficiary by the then District Collector/Deputy Commissioner, Jammu-Hirdesh Kumar Singh (IAS) presently Chief Electoral Officer, J&K with additional charge of Commissioner/Secretary to Govt. of J&K, Transport Department.
The Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu Y.P. Bourney had on December, 4, 2019 declined to accept the final report presented by SVO recommending closure of case FIR No.6/2014 and while returning the case for further investigation the Court had directed ACB to widen the scope of investigation for including within its ambit all encroachments by anybody and everybody whosoever unfazed by their status or position. The Court had also directed ACB to ascertain the role of the officers/officials of the JDA for their deliberate acts of omissions and commissions to take charge of the land immediately after it was ordered to be transferred to JDA by the Government.
The Whistleblower/Complainant on July, 24, 2020 had filed an application in the Court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Jammu seeking directions to the ACB to submit before the Court the latest status of investigation in case FIR No.06/2014 wherein a status report was called in which the Investigating Officer ACB Jammu submitted that further investigation of the case could not be completed due to COVID-19 infection and the subsequent lockdown and all efforts are being made to complete the remaining investigation as early as possible.
On August, 14, 2020 Advocate S.S. Ahmed with Advocate Muzzaffar Ali Shah made submissions via virtual mode whereas APP Hemanshu Parkash represented ACB. Advocate S.S. Ahmed vehemently argued that there is no progress achieved by ACB during the last eight months and the ACB is trying to shield the high profile accused on the pretext of COVID-19 and the subsequently lockdowns. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that the delay is deliberate and intentional just to screen the offenders who are highly influential and politically connected and are occupying prime positions in the Bureaucracy. Advocate Ahmed further submitted that to cover-up the delay the ground of COVID-19 has been taken and as a matter of fact the ACB is actively working with regard to children of lesser God but in this sensitive case the real face of the ACB to conduct fair and impartial investigation has been exposed.
The Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Jammu-Y.P. Bourney upon consideration of the matter expressed displeasure over the lackadaisical approach of the ACB and observed that, “the investigations in such cases has to be conducted and concluded with fairly good amount of promptitude”, and directed the personal appearance of the I.O. alongwith CD file on the next date of hearing.
The Investigating Officer alongwith CD file appeared before the Court on August, 20, 2020 whereas Advocate Muzzaffar Ali Shah appeared for the complainant via virtual mode and APP Hemanshu Parkash appeared for ACB and the I.O. submitted that due to COVID-19 infection not much has been done.
The Special Judge Anti-Corruption, Jammu-Y.P. Bourney while expressing displeasure over the slow pace of the investigation in a case of wide public importance directed the Investigating Officer to expedite the process and keep the Court informed of the progress in the investigation achieved fortnightly. The Court in view of the importance of the matter directed its further listing on September, 7, 2020.