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J&K Court chides Crime Branch for inefficiency in 4,000 kanals land scam

Last Updated on March 23, 2021 at 7:21 pm

Special Judge Anti Corruption Y P Bourney has rejected final reports of the Crime Branch in land scam of more than 4,000 kanals of land which involved several political leaders including former Cabinet Minister and many others. He severely criticized the Crime Branch and directed them to further investigate. He set a timeline to conclude this investigation within a period of three months to bring all facts to the fore and expose all beneficiaries of scam.

The court also asked to set up a full-time specialized investigating agency to investigate white-collar crimes and frauds which are a frequent phenomenon in Government offices. This case dates back to 2012 when the Crime Branch Jammu lodged three FIRs against the then Tehsildars of Jammu namely Balwant Raj, Kamal Singh and some others. These FIRs were lodged under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act after many formal complaints were received alleging land scam of huge value.

The Crime Branch took around a decade to file closure reports in the court of Special Judge Anti-Corruption Jammu. The court remarked that over 4000 kanals of land in Nandani and nearby areas forming the bed or banks of River Tawi has been captured through identity of a mysterious lady. Officers and officials of the Revenue Department have also assisted in this illegal job.

The court said that Taj Mohu-ud-Din, former Cabinet Minister and a prominent politician of Jammu and Kashmir and his family members have captured over 843 kanals of land violating upper ceiling limit on landholding under Agrarian Reforms Act. It was suspected that officers/officials, land grabbers and the ultimate beneficiaries used identity of a lady for their own benefit.

The court also chided Crime Branch and said that in place of concluding this investigation within a reasonable timeframe, the investigating agency took a decade to investigate what should not have taken more than six months. As a result of the agency’s indolent behaviour, most of the officials who were involved have retired by now and have got all service, promotions and retirement benefits.

The court refused to accept the final report and directed Inspector General of the Crime Branch to further investigate and collect all important details like total area of land which was acquired and sold and also role of major beneficiaries in this scam. The bench also directed to constitute a special team of senior officers above or equivalent to rank of DySP and conclude investigation within a time period of three months. Crime Bench was also directed to send a copy of this order to the Chief Secretary for information and necessary action.

The bench also added that it is high time to punish officials who often disobey rules. The criminal justice delivery system needs to be completely upgraded to become highly effective in avoiding future crimes.