The petitioner in the Rs. 1000 crore land grab case against sacked Mizoram Governor Kamla Beniwal moved an application before a metropolitan magistrate’s court on Wednesday seeking that Beniwal be named as an accused in the case as she no longer enjoys constitutional immunity. So far 17 members of a farmers’ cooperative were accused in a land grab case filed by the petitioner Sanjay Kishore in 2012 while Beniwal, who was then Gujarat Governor, was only named.
A hearing was slated for Wednesday on the case but with the ongoing lawyers’ strike in the state, the petitioner personally appeared before the magistrate and moved the application. The next hearing is scheduled for September 11 when the court is likely to decide on who all would be summoned in the case.
The petitioner’s lawyer AK Jain told the Indian Express, “Initially when the complaint was lodged, Beniwal was a sitting Governor and hence enjoyed constitutional immunity, which she no longer does. The application moved on Wednesday seeks to now include her as the 18th accused in the case.”
In 1953 one Kisan Samuhik Krishi Sahkari Samiti Limited (farmers’ cooperative society) was allotted 384 bighas of land in Kalwar, then on the fringes of Jaipur at a cost of Rs. 25 per acre for better farming. The plot was given on a 20-year lease with a precondition that the co-operative would have to satisfy the state government of its due functioning. Though the lease expired in 1978, the members of the co-operative continued to hold ownership of the land.
Beniwal, who got into active politics in 1954 and became the first woman minister that year, joined the co-operative in 1970. The original members of the co-operative too were gradually replaced by new members, several of them key politicians and businessmen.
In October 1999, 221 bighas out of the 384 bighas allotted to the co-operative were earmarked for Kardhani and Prithviraj Nagar residential schemes. Though land stood transferred to the state government in 1978 and the society members had no claim to it, 15 percent of the developed land was awarded to the society as compensation. Around 209 residential plots were allotted to the 18 members including Beniwal that effectively meant 1516 sq meter of land to each of them. The total valuation of the land in 2012 is tipped at Rs 1000 crore.
A police investigation and a report prepared by Jaipur Collector Krishna Kunal in May this year had found allegations of land grab and fraud against Beniwal valid, which is said to have formed the basis of her removal. “With an intention to grab government land, Beniwal and the other accused prepared report of a ‘fake meeting’ (held on May 5, 2011 when she was the Gujarat governor) of the society and recorded false information about the land,” the police report had substantiated.
The other key members include Kumbaram Arya, former Rajasthan Revenue Minister and state president of Samajwadi Janta Party, his son Vijaypal and grandson Ranveer Singh, Radhakishan Chaudhary, OSD of former Prime Minister Devi Lal and retired Joint Registrar, Co-Operative Department among other prominent businessmen.