The Samajwadi Party had made indictment of ministers by the Lokayukta a major issue against the Mayawati government during the just concluded Assembly elections. However after coming to power,Akhilesh Yadav chose a person as a minister in his cabinet who was indicted by the Lokayukta for misuse of authority as a minister way back in 2002.
Justice (retired) S C Verma,then Lokayukta,had said that Rajaram Pandey,now Minister of Khadi and Village Industries,had grabbed land by taking the law into his hand,and that his conduct was unbecoming of a public servant. While Pandey is now again a minister,the man whose land he had allegedly grabbed Kunwar Shivdev Singh is still fighting for justice in the Allahabad High Court.
Late in 2000,Pandey was a minister in Rajnath Singh-led BJP government. According to Singh,Pandey had grabbed his land in Molnapur village in Patti tehsil of Pratapgarh district,but the administration paid no heed to his complaint under the ministers influence. Singh then lodged a complaint with the Lokayukta on December 20,2000.
Singh said he owned 24 bighas of land,of which he had sold 4 bighas to villagers Phoolchand and Binda Gupta,and given another 4 bighas to Phoolchand and Bhagauti on contract. Pandey acquired both pieces of land through sale deeds in the name of his wife Kusum Pandey and son Sanjay Pandey. Later,he took possession of the entire 24 bighas on November 24,2000.
In a report to the then chief minister on January 30,2002,Lokayukta Justice (retired) S C Verma held Pandey guilty of misusing his ministerial position for land grabbing. He also recommended action against the then District Magistrate of Pratapgarh Vijay Prakash,then SP Pramod Kumar,ASP P K Mishra and Patti SDM Anil Kumar Upadhyay for conniving with Pandey.
The Lokayukta stated that Pandey pressurised revenue officials,and grabbed the land by using fear and taking the law in his hands. Further,he had unleashed a reign of terror and no one was ready to speak against him. Pandeys conduct was unbecoming of a public servant,the Lokayukta held.
As for the local administrations role,the Lokayukta said that District Magistrate Vijay Prakash did not take the matter seriously in right earnest and failed to present the complete facts during the inquiry,while SP Pramod Kumar did not act according to law. The Lokayukta said the then SDM Anil Kumar Upadhyay did nothing to prevent the incident despite having advance information about it.
The BJP government took no action on the Lokayuktas report. On May 3,2002,Mayawati became chief minister and Pandey ceased to be a minister. On October 29,2002,a criminal case was
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lodged against Pandey at Aspura Devsara police station.
On August 29,2003,Mulayam Singh Yadav became the chief minister and Pandeys fortunes again started to shine bright. He again became a minister and the police closed the case on March 4,2004,saying there was no evidence. I was informed by a letter from the Lokayuktas office that the police has entered a final report in the case and I can now contest the matter in the district court, said Shivdev Singh.
Singh challenged the police action in the local court on September 2,2005. However,Additional Sessions Judge N D Mishra rejected his application,saying that no charges could be established against Pandey. Singh then knocked at the doors of Allahabad High Court on May 11,2010,where the matter is pending. Notices have been issued and the case is likely to be taken up shortly, said Singhs counsel U K Pathak.
Singh finds it strange that even after the Lokayukta,who was a retired high court judge,upheld his complaint and indicted the minister and the local administration,he has still not got back his land,while Pandey has again become a minister.
Pandey began his career as Janata Dal MLA in 1996,later won as a candidate of Ram Vilas Paswans outfit Lok Janshakti Party in the 2002 Assembly elections. He lost in 2007 Assembly elections as a SP candidate and this year,he won from Biswanathganj in Pratapgarh.