A Raipur court on Wednesday admitted a petition filed by Congress leader Bhupesh Baghel against Chief Minister Raman Singh for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy and regularising 2,780 acres of land to Balco in Korba district,most of which the company had illegally occupied over the years.
Significantly,the Sessions Court has decided to investigate the case itself under Section 200 of CrPC. In March,the Congress had sought Governor Shekhar Dutts sanction to prosecute Singh,but approached the court after they did not get any response.
The Congress has alleged that Singh conspired with Balco chairperson Gunjan Gupta and then Chhattisgarh Chief Secretary P Joy Ommen and cleared files in a day to allot the land,causing a loss of Rs 140 crore to the exchequer. The petition seeks to prosecute Singh,Gupta and Ommen under Sections 420,467,120 B of IPC and 13 (1) D and 13 (2) of Prevention of Corruption Act.
State Congress chief Nand Kumar Patel demanded Singhs resignation,adding that the courts decision to conduct the probe showed that judiciary had no faith in the state police.
State BJP general secretary Shivratan Sharma said while regularisation of 1,804 acres is subject to getting forest clearance,the decision to regularise 668 acres at current prices will bring extra revenue of Rs 150 crore.
The case files,however,show that the Singh government decided to regularise the land although a substantial portion is forest land on which the Supreme Court had stayed all construction. Top officers including the advocate general had opposed the regularisation.
In fact,in February 2007,the state government had told SC that except 338.66 acres,the remaining land in Balcos possession was encroached land. Stating that most of the area had tree cover,it had said the land could not be allotted to Balco.
While Balco records show the company had possession of 2,613 acres in 1976-77,the government records put it 2,780 acres.