The Jammu and Kashmir administration on Monday published on its website the list of beneficiaries under the Roshni Act. The beneficiaries include former State ministers, retired civil servants and politicians.
Among those who were allotted land under the now scrapped Act are Haseeb Drabu, former Finance Minister and ex-Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader; K.K Amla, businessman and Congress leader; Nighat Pandit, wife of retired IAS officer Shafi Pandit; Syed Akhoon of the National Conference; M.Y. Khan, former Chairman of J&K Bank; and Sujjad Kichloo, former National Conference Minister.
In a related development, the Central Bureau of Investigation has registered another case in connection with the ₹25,000-crore “Roshni” scam, this time against the then District Collector of Jammu and others for alleged illegal grant of ownership of land parcels.
The case was instituted by the then Vigilance Organisation in Jammu and Kashmir in 2014. It named Deputy Commissioner Hirdesh Kumar Singh and one Bashir Ahmed as accused, apart from unknown officials of the Revenue Department in Jammu.
According to the Vigilance Organisation, the larger allegation pertained to irregularities in the implementation of the Jammu and Kashmir States Land (vesting of ownership to the occupants) Act, also known as Roshini Act, which has now been declared null and void. One of the cases under scrutiny was about the grant of ownership to Bashir Ahmed involving 63 kanals and 15 marlas.
The then District Collector, Mr. Singh, had ordered the vesting of ownership on the beneficiary in October 2007. Subsequently, the land was transferred in his name under the agriculture category. During verification, the officials found that a part of the land transferred to Bashir Ahmed did not come under that category. Another portion was not shown on paper.
This is the fifth case registered by the CBI, following a directive of the High Court to investigate the alleged scam.
It alleged that hundreds of acres of valuable forest and government land had been illegally occupied, usurped and encroached upon by influential politicians, businessmen, bureaucrats and judicial functionaries all over the State, under the Act that was passed in 2001.
The legislation was introduced in 2000 by the then Finance Minister in the National Conference government. It proposed that proprietary rights be given to the persons who without any authorisation held State land till 1990, on payment of the cost equivalent to the prevailing market rate in 1990.
The government was expected to get over ₹25,000 crore as regularisation fee, which was to be used for generating power through hydro projects.
In 2005, as alleged, the PDP government relaxed the cut off year to 2004 and then the Congress government further pushed it to 2007.
It is alleged that in 2007, rules were framed allowing ownership of the encroached agricultural land almost free of cost, while a huge discount was offered in case of urban land parcels.
The Comptroller and Auditor General, in a 2014 report, had stated that only ₹76 crore had been realised from the transfer of encroached land between 2007 and 2013, as against the target of about ₹25,000 crore.