The Punjab government on Wednesday reinstated Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Anand Sagar Sharma, who was placed under suspension in March this year soon after his alleged involvement in the multi-crore Hoshiarpur land scam had come to light. In February, Vigilance Bureau had booked over a dozen persons and made Sharma the prime accused in the case. But his arrest was recently stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
On Wednesday, Sharma confirmed the news of his reinstatement to The Indian Express. “I have received the reinstatement orders today. Now, I waiting for my posting orders,” he said.
Meanwhile, a senior Vigilance Bureau official said that the probe against Sharma was very much underway, adding that the bureau had nothing to do with his reistatement, which was a matter under the purview of the Punjab government. Secretary, perosonnel department of the state government, could not be reached for comments.
The land scam was exposed in June last year. In the scam, windfall gains were allegedly made by private persons as nearly two km-long stretch was purchased from farmers at lower rates in Hoshiarpur to pocket heavy compensation after getting the land use changed with the alleged connivance of revenue officials.
The land in question had been acquired by the NHAI for a four-laning project, and the accused had purchased the land both immediately before and after the notification for acquisition. Even PMO had asked Punjab Additional Chief Secretary to probe the matter.
It was alleged irregularities were committed by the competent authority appointed for acquiring land for the four-laning project from Jalandhar district to Hoshiarpur. Sharma, who was SDM, Hoshiarpur, was the competent authority in-charge for acquiring land for the project.
Apart from VB probe, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) had also initiated action against Sharma under Prevention of Money Laundering Act in the Hoshiarpur land scam.
Initially, RTI Activists Rajiv Vashisht, who had exposed this scam, had sent a complaint to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and PMO had forwarded the complaint to Punjab’s Additional Chief Secretary, after which the then CM, Parkash Singh Badal, had ordered a probe.